Penalties for Late Paychecks in Florida

February 28th 2024

In the state of Florida, the payment of wages is the right of all workers and is protected by law. Employers are expected to compensate their employees for unpaid wages promptly and in accordance with the terms in the employee contract and federal law. Failure to pay wages can lead to legal action and penalties for employers. However, unlike some states, Florida does not have its own specific laws surrounding certain elements of wage and paycheck laws. In such instances, federal laws are adhered to instead.

This article covers:

When should I receive my Paycheck in Florida?

In Florida there are rules in place for public sector employees, outlining when or how often they should receive their wages. These rules detail that employers should pay workers once a month. For those working in the private sector, there are not such specific regulations. However, both Federal and State Law dictate that employers are obligated to pay the correct wages and in a timely manner. Therefore, if an employer is violating this law, employees can file an unpaid wages claim. How often employees should get paid and the specific payment schedule is based on the agreed upon terms in the employment contract.

Legal Framework for Late Paychecks in Florida

The two main laws to be aware of when faced with paycheck issues are the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Florida Minimum Wage Act (FMWA). The FLSA is a Federal Law that sets the standards for labor law requirements across the US, including minimum wage, overtime, wage equality and child labor standards. Many States have introduced their own laws based on the Federal FLSA, outlining the employment standards to which employers must adhere. In addition, the FMWA is used in Florida, particularly for minimum wage issues. It also covers other employment aspects and is sometimes referred to for paycheck issues. However, in general, the FLSA is the main law in Florida for employments standards, including paycheck and unpaid wages issues.

There are not many laws specifically about paychecks in Florida. The laws in place require that an employer issues a detailed paycheck to all employees. The paycheck must show details of the wages earned in that particular pay period, the taxes deducted and any other specifics. In Florida, employers are not required by law to deliver paychecks on a certain day. As a result, employers can install pay schemes and schedules which suit their business needs rather than for the best interest of employees.

Final Paychecks:

In Florida, there are no laws detailing exactly when the final paycheck should be received. However, all employees are entitled to receive wages for all the hours or work they have completed, regardless of whether they have resigned or have been terminated.  There are some differences in actions to take to recover a missing final paycheck, based upon the circumstances for the end of the employment:

  • Termination: Employers are not obligated to pay wages for unused vacation time, unlike in some other States. It is recommended by the Florida Office of Workforce Services to contact the United States Department of Labor if facing challenges with receiving a final paycheck after termination.
  • Resignation: The holding of a final paycheck due to resignation is illegal. First contact the employer, specifically the human resources or payroll department, requesting the wages owed in writing. Following this, if an employer is still not complying with the law, there are two action options:
    1. File an employment complaint with the Labor Agency of Florida
    2. File a claim in the small claims court for violations of federal and state wage laws

In Florida, employers can decide their own paycheck policies, therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the conditions in your employment contract.

Wage Deductions:

Florida uses federal laws when it comes to wage deductions. Under federal laws, employers are allowed to make deductions to employee paychecks, but only for certain circumstances. One such reason is if company property is not returned by the employee at the end of the employment. Employers can withhold the final paycheck until the company property is returned. Also, there are no rules regarding what deductions can be made and what constitutes as company property. Common deductions from wages include:

  • Damage or loss to company property
  • Cash shortages
  • Equipment, tools, required uniforms etc.

One small protection for employees, in line with Federal law, is that deductions are prohibited if it would result in the employee earning less than the federal minimum wage for the applicable pay period.

The lack of laws and specifics in Florida enable it to be lawful for employers to withhold or make deductions from paychecks.

Penalties for Late Paychecks in Florida

Under both Federal and State law, those who fail to pay their employees in a timely manner, may be obligated to pay penalties for their actions, including back pay, fines and legal fees.

To pursue back pay, the payment for completed work that employees are entitled to, employees have the option to file an unpaid wages claim. If the claim is successful, the employer will be obligated to pay the missing wages to the worker.

Additionally, in cases where there have been violations of the FMWA, employees are entitled to liquidated damages as well as their unpaid wages. The aim of liquidated damages is to compensate employees for having to wait for their wages and to deter employers from making labor violations. Liquidated damages add up to the same amount as an employees unpaid wages. In total, the employee will receive double the amount of their missing paycheck. Liquidated damages may also be pursued when claiming unpaid overtime. This can be filed for under federal law, not State law. In certain cases, the employer may also be required to pay the legal fees of the employee.

Actions to take if an Employer does not Deliver Paychecks on time in Florida

If a paycheck is late and an employer does not deliver the full wages owed, employees should consider pursuing the following steps to receive back wages:

  • Firstly, email or contact the employer, in writing, requesting the wages that are owed. It is normal procedure to contact human resources or the payroll department. Often there can be small administration errors and the wages were not purposefully withheld. The normal response from an employer should be to pay the full wages.
  • If an employer continues to refuse payment, an employee is entitled to file an unpaid wages claim with the Florida Labor Agency. Detail the amount of wages owed and include any relevant documentation to bolster the case.
  • An alternative is to file a lawsuit for the missing wages. During this process, a legal team will recommend either settling the suit in the small claims court or taking it to the next level.

It is strongly recommended to seek legal advice from an experienced wage and hour lawyer in Florida when pursuing a late paycheck case. The process can be complicated and attorneys are best situated to inform employees of the best options for different circumstances. Documenting meticulously all information during this process is key to ensuring the best outcome and can be used as evidence for the case.

Statute of Limitations for Late Paycheck Claims:

The statute of limitations or time an employee has to file a complaint for a late paycheck depends upon whether the employer knowingly refused to pay wages. Florida employment laws state that:

  • An employee is entitled to file an unpaid wages claim up to 4 years after the violation of employment law
  • However, if an employer knowingly made a violation, the time increases to up to 5 years to make a complaint

Summing Up

In Florida, the payment of wages in a timely manner follows both State and Federal law. The FLSA and the FMWA outline the employment standards for employers to follow. Under Florida Laws, there are not many specifics for paycheck rules and schedules. However, employees are entitled to receive their full wages for completed work. Employees are able to file unpaid wages claims and lawsuits when facing employment violations. Employers found to have violated employment rights may be subject to pay penalties such as backpay, civil penalties and liquidated damages, to properly compensate employees for their work.

Learn more about Florida Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

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 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 use of this guide.