The Ultimate Hiring Guide for Florida Employers

December 29th 2023

Florida is experiencing the highest surge in job resignations compared to all other states in the country. This alarming trend has left many employers dealing with substantial talent gaps that need urgent attention and action. But hiring in the state isn’t exactly simple.

Aside from the challenge of finding the right candidates that fit the position and company culture, employers will also need to navigate through both federal and Florida hiring laws. It’s challenging, no doubt about it. But don’t worry. This guide aims to simplify hiring for you. 

We’ve taken a deep dive into Florida’s hiring laws, expert hiring tips, and practical strategies. All those hours of research and insights have been distilled into this guide. Check it out, try out some of the steps we’ve outlined, and get ready to find the best hires to add to your growing team.

This Article Covers

Why Hiring the Right Employee is Crucial
What are the Signs it’s Time to Hire?
Federal and Florida Laws that Affect Hiring
Steps to Effectively Hire New Employees in Florida
Final Thoughts

A woman smiling while being interviewed during the hiring process. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

Why Hiring the Right Employee is Crucial

A company is only as good as its people. This holds true for almost any industry. Hiring the right employee is crucial for several reasons, and the benefits of making a good hire extend far beyond just filling a position. 

  • Reduces Turnover Costs: Hiring the right person reduces the likelihood of turnover. And lower turnover means less time and money spent on recruitment, training, and onboarding.
  • Maximizes Productivity: Hiring well maximizes company productivity by saving time and getting qualified candidates into positions quickly. An efficient hiring process allows less time spent on hiring, enabling the team to focus on daily tasks.
  • Encourages Team Morale: Employees contribute to the company culture, either positively or negatively. Hiring individuals who fit into your organization quickly enhances team morale, adds vital skills, provides inspiration, and encourages other employees.
  • Promotes Company Growth: Recruiting the right staff is crucial for short- and long-term company growth. Saving time and money, increasing productivity, maximizing employee performance, reducing safety risks, and keeping morale high—all these benefits stem from finding and hiring the best candidates.

How Do You Know It’s Time to Hire?

Several signs can indicate that your company might need additional hands on deck. One clear sign is when current employees are consistently overwhelmed with work, leading to decreased productivity and potential burnout. If your team is frequently missing deadlines or struggling to meet demands, it’s a signal that you need more help.

Another indication is when you find certain tasks or projects continually delayed due to a lack of resources or if you’re turning down new business or opportunities because your current team can’t handle the workload. Monitoring these signs proactively allows you to identify when it’s time to hire, ensuring the continued success of your business.

Federal and Florida Laws that Affect Hiring

Florida’s employment landscape is shaped by various laws to ensure fair treatment, nondiscrimination, and ethical hiring practices. Understanding these laws is vital for employers to create an inclusive and legally compliant hiring process.

  • Florida Fair Employment Practices: The Florida Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination during the hiring and recruitment process based on various factors, including race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, disability, age, and marital status. The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees and also prohibits discrimination against individuals perceived to have AIDS or HIV or those with the sickle-cell trait.
  • Consumer Reports: Similar to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, Florida’s consumer credit reporting law restricts employers from using employee credit reports without written consent. This law applies to job applicants and emphasizes the importance of obtaining consent before conducting credit checks or investigative consumer reports.
  • Drug Testing: Florida employers may conduct pre-employment drug and alcohol tests, but they are not mandatory. Employers must provide a written policy on drug use to applicants before testing. To be eligible for a drug-free workplace program designation and workers’ compensation premium discounts, employers must meet specific standards, including providing testing procedures and explaining results to job applicants.
  • Equal Pay: Florida bans pay discrimination based on gender for roles requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility performed under similar conditions. The law covers employers with two or more employees not subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Pay differentials are allowed under seniority or merit systems, systems based on quantity or quality of production, or any other reasonable factor except for gender.
  • E-Verify: Private employers with 25 or more employees and all public agencies in Florida must use the E-Verify system to verify new employees’ employment eligibility within three business days. Public contractors and subcontractors are also required to use E-Verify.
  • Florida Minimum Wage: The Florida Minimum Wage Act mandates a current minimum wage of $12.00 per hour for nonexempt employees, with scheduled increases through 2026 until it reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30, 2026. There are separate rates for tipped employees, and certain exceptions to the state minimum wage rate exist. The law aims to ensure fair compensation for workers across various industries.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): The ADEA makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against job applicants or employees aged 40 or older. Employers are prohibited from favoring younger workers over older ones in hiring decisions or other employment practices.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA prohibits discrimination against employees and job applicants with disabilities, ensuring equal opportunities in the workplace. Employers are restricted from inquiring about disabilities before a job offer, but they can ask about a candidate’s ability to perform job functions with or without reasonable accommodation.
  • New Hire Reporting: Employers in Florida must report all new hires, including rehired employees, to the Florida Department of Revenue within 20 days, even if the new hire has not yet worked any hours. The report includes employee information such as name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, and date of hire, as well as employer information like business name, address, and federal employer ID number (EIN). This reporting is essential for regulatory compliance and helps in administering state services.

Two men shaking hands to agree on a job offer.Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Steps to Effectively Hire New Employees in Florida

1. Register as an Employer

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to register as an employer in Florida first before you can kick off your hiring process.

Begin by obtaining a federal employer identification number (EIN) through IRS Form SS-4, known as the “Application for Employer Identification Number.” Once you secure your EIN, proceed to register with the Florida Department of Revenue. This step needs to be completed by the end of the month following the calendar quarter in which you become an employer.

You can register online or use Form DR-1, the “Florida Business Tax Application.” This registration will provide you with a business tax account and a Reemployment Tax Number.

2. Identify Your Hiring Needs

Understanding your hiring needs is fundamental to a successful recruitment process. Evaluate your current workforce and pinpoint the specific roles or skills your team requires. Consider the tasks that need attention and the qualifications essential for the new hires. This careful assessment ensures that you are bringing in employees who genuinely contribute to your business goals and not just filling positions for the sake of it.

3. Create Accurate Job Descriptions

Crafting precise and informative job descriptions is the next step. And although not legally required under most state and federal laws, job descriptions offer legal protection to employers and provide clarity to employees regarding their roles. 

To create an accurate job description, you’ll need to clearly outline the responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations for each role. Be specific about the skills and experience required, and highlight any particular qualities that align with your company culture. 

Since Florida doesn’t have any statewide pay transparency laws, you’re not required to disclose the salary range for the position on your job ad. But it’s still recommended that you do so anyway to enhance the transparency of your hiring process and attract candidates who align with both the role and your budget. 

All in all, accurate job descriptions not only attract suitable candidates but also set clear expectations from the outset, reducing the likelihood of mismatches later in the hiring process.

4. Utilize Multiple Recruitment Channels

To cast a wide net and attract diverse talent in Florida, leverage various recruitment channels. These may include online job boards, social media platforms, networking events, and local community resources. Posting your job opening on multiple platforms increases visibility and ensures that your opportunity reaches a broader audience.

5. Select and Screen Resumes

Once you’ve received applications, the next step is to review and screen resumes systematically. Focus on essential qualifications and experiences relevant to the job. Look for candidates whose skills align with the job description, paying attention to consistency, relevant skills, and effective communication. Look for key indicators of success in their previous roles, such as achievements and positive outcomes.

Be mindful of unintentional biases during this process and ensure fair evaluation based on merit.

6. Implement a Structured Interview Process

After screening resumes, initiate a structured interview process. Decide whether you prefer one-on-one sessions or panel interviews, depending on the role and company preferences. Develop a set of standardized questions that align with the job specifications, covering both technical aspects and soft skills.

You want to ensure consistency among interviewers to maintain fairness and minimize biases. Incorporate behavioral questions to understand how candidates handled situations in their previous roles. It’s also important to stay informed about questions that are off-limits due to legal considerations, such as those related to age, marital status, or disabilities.

7. Make the Job Offer

Once you’ve identified the perfect candidate for your team, it’s time to make it official. Present the job offer to the chosen candidate, being clear and transparent about terms such as salary, benefits, start date, and any other relevant details. Address any questions or concerns the candidate may have. After mutual agreement on all details, send out the formal offer letter to solidify the employment arrangement.

8. Submit a New Hire Report

Under the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PWORA), Florida employers must report specific information on newly hired employees to the Florida Department of Revenue within 20 days of their hire or rehire date.

This report includes essential details such as the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, and date of hire. Employers must also provide their federal employer identification number, Florida unemployment compensation number, contact information and indicate whether medical insurance will be offered. For this, you can use Form CS-EF315 or the “Florida New Hire Reporting Form” and submit it online or by mail.

9. Verify Employee Eligibility

New employees are required to complete Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification,” by their first day of work. Employers must then complete Section 2 of the form within three business days after the employee begins working, retaining it for three years or one year after employment ends.

As of July 1, 2023, private employers with 25 or more employees in Florida are obligated to use E-Verify for new hires, electronically confirming their eligibility to work in the United States by cross-referencing information from I-9 forms with relevant government records. Employers may also consider using E-Verify, even if it is not mandated, to enhance the hiring process. This step ensures compliance with employment laws and contributes to a smooth hiring and onboarding experience. Speaking of onboarding, you can check out our complete Florida onboarding guide to learn expert strategies to integrate new hires to your growing team.

10. Prepare for your Payroll Tax Obligations

A new employee means new opportunities but also new payroll tax obligations. Understanding and fulfilling these payroll tax obligations is a crucial step in hiring in Florida.

Employers must withhold federal income tax, Social Security, and Medicare taxes from employees’ pay under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). The tax rates for 2023 are 6.2 percent for Social Security and 1.45 percent for Medicare. Employers need to deposit these taxes on a schedule determined by the IRS, either monthly or weekly.

Additionally, federal unemployment taxes (FUTA) must be paid if certain criteria are met. Being well-versed in these tax obligations ensures compliance with federal regulations, so make sure to check which taxes are applicable to your new hires.

11. Display Legally Required Labor Law Posters

In Florida, employers must prominently display both federal and state employment law posters to inform employees about their rights and responsibilities. Some of these posters include:

12. Streamline Hiring with Time Tracking Software

In the hectic process of hiring new employees, efficient time management is crucial. Consider implementing time tracking software to streamline scheduling, monitor task durations, and manage work hours effectively. This software aids in tracking schedules, ensuring fair compensation, and maintaining compliance with labor laws. It can be particularly beneficial in handling remote or flexible work arrangements. By adopting time tracking software, employers can enhance productivity, simplify payroll processes, and foster a transparent and accountable work environment.

Final Thoughts

The success and growth of any business are fundamentally linked to the individuals who make up its workforce. You want to hire the right people who not only fit the roles you’re offering but also align with your company’s values and culture. The hiring process isn’t easy, but the time you invest in crafting a comprehensive hiring strategy will definitely pay off in the long run. Consider it an investment for your company’s future success.

Each company is different, and some roles may require a more comprehensive approach to hiring than others. But by adhering to the guidelines outlined in this hiring guide, you’re sure to build a robust foundation for your hiring practices. Good luck!

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide, we have tried to make it accurate, but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you to seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for the use of this guide.