Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as a salaried employee in Florida?

April 15th 2024

Acquiring a deep comprehension of your rights as a salaried employee goes beyond just legality; it serves as a tool for self-empowerment as you navigate your professional journey confidently.

With each workday, the consistent compensation you receive molds your position within the workplace. Nonetheless, the intricacies of these arrangements can differ significantly from state to state within the United States.

This piece is intended to offer guidance, addressing the questions that have piqued your curiosity. We will delve into the nuances of your rights, leading you toward a more informed and empowered work experience that aligns with the specific regulations of Florida.

This Article Covers

Defining a Salaried Employee in Florida
Common Questions About Salaried Employee Rights in Florida
Understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status in Florida
Wage and Hour Regulations in Florida
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Florida
Taking Action Against Violations in Florida
Case Studies and Real-Life Scenarios of Salaried Employee Rights Violations in Florida

Defining a Salaried Employee in Florida

What is Salaried Employment in Florida?

As per the regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and labor laws in Florida, salaried workers receive a predetermined amount at agreed intervals, such as bi-weekly or monthly. This full payment remains consistent regardless of the number of hours worked per week.

Typically, the fixed salary of these employees encompasses compensated sick leave as they often meet the criteria for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits.

The FLSA designates certain employees as exempt, and this includes many salaried personnel, particularly those in managerial roles (executives, administrators, other professionals, and computer science staff). If you belong to the salaried category but do not hold one of these positions, you might fall under the non-exempt category and thereby qualify for overtime compensation.

What are the Key Differences Between Salaried and Hourly Employees in Florida?

Aspect Salaried Employees Hourly Employees
Minimum Wage Laws Under FLSA and Florida laws, paid a fixed amount regardless of hours worked. Subject to Florida’s minimum wage of $12.00/hour (eligibility applies).
Overtime Laws Exempt under FLSA for certain positions; eligibility for overtime varies. Eligible for overtime (1.5x pay) for hours beyond 40 in a workweek.
Severance Pay Typically depends on tenure; payouts vary based on years of service. Similar to salaried; tied to years of service and company policies.
Paid Sick Leave & FMLA Salaried pay often includes sick leave; qualifies for FMLA benefits. May earn paid sick leave and use it with unpaid FMLA leave.
Paid Vacation Salaried pay may include vacation; specifics vary by employer. May earn paid vacation based on hours worked and employer policies.
Maternity/Paternity Leave May have unpaid provisions; duration varies by agreement. No guaranteed paid leave; terms depend on employer’s policies.
Domestic Violence Leave Up to 3 unpaid workdays allowed for certain situations. Same provisions as salaried employees; up to 3 unpaid days.

If you’d like to know more about Florida labor laws, you can access our guides on hourly employee rights in Florida and salaried employees laws.

Common Questions About Salaried Employee Rights in Florida

What are the Basic Rights of Salaried Employees in Florida?

Here are some essential points to understand regarding salaries according to Florida employment law:

  • Both federal and state legislation protect employees’ rights and provide remedies for violations. When federal and state laws cover the same issue, the law offering greater protection applies.
  • Key federal laws include the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
  • Discrimination during the hiring process based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or genetic information is illegal.
  • Employers cannot force job applicants to take a drug test against their will.
  • In Florida, employment is “at-will,” but termination for illegal reasons is prohibited.
  • Employees have the right to a minimum wage set at $12; Florida’s minimum wage has specific increments over time (on September 30, 2024, Florida will increase its rate to $13).
  • Florida overtime laws require fair compensation for work beyond 40 hours in a workweek pegged at 1.5 times regular wage ($18 for minimum wage workers).
  • Under FMLA, employees are entitled to unpaid leave for certain health-related situations.
  • Employers cannot discriminate or create a hostile work environment based on protected characteristics.
  • Employers must provide safe working conditions and proper training for employees’ protection.

It’s important to note that this summary provides a general overview. If you require/ need specific legal advice or believe your rights have been violated, consulting with an employment law attorney is recommended.

Is Overtime Pay Applicable to Salaried Employees in Florida?

Yes. Contrary to popular belief, being salaried does not automatically exempt you from overtime pay.

Certain categories of salaried employees can be exempt from overtime, yet not all salaried employees are ineligible for overtime. The state adopts federal definitions for four ambiguous categories: 

  • Professionals: Possessing advanced knowledge and expertise accumulated through years of experience, which they employ to oversee departments within the organization.
  • Executives: Possess advanced knowledge and expertise and have authority over hiring and firing decisions.
  • Computer Employees: Roles like software engineers, computer programmers, or analysts.
  • Administrative Employees: Having roles in accounting, quality control, human resources, personnel management, or labor relations.

Further, in line with federal law changes effective January 1, 2020, salaried employees still eligible for overtime pay must:

  • Earn less than $684 weekly.
  • Earn less than $35,568 annually.
  • Earn less than $1,043 weekly for those in the motion picture industry.
  • Earn under $107,432 yearly for “highly-compensated employees.”

“Highly-compensated employees” refer to those who own more than 5% of a company and can meet the $107,432 limit through a weekly salary (meeting or exceeding the $684 minimum) combined with commissions, bonuses, and additional compensation beyond their weekly base pay.

For employees not falling within the aforementioned categories, considered non-exempt, overtime compensation of one-and-a-half times their base rate is required for any hours worked beyond 40 hours in a week. Florida law also mandates overtime for over 10 hours worked in a single day.

Can Employers Deduct Wages from Salaried Employees in Florida?

Florida lacks its own specific or general wage deduction laws. Instead, the state abides by the guidelines outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal statute, as set forth by the Department of Labor

State-level wage deduction laws exhibit variability, while Florida follows the minimum standards dictated by the FLSA. In Florida, adhering to wage deduction prerequisites mandates prior written authorization from the employee. In the absence of such consent, non-mandated deductions are deemed unlawful. 

Instances of wage deductions encompass various elements such as:

  • FICA taxes
  • Membership fees for gyms
  • Health insurance scheme premiums
  • Uniform costs for employees
  • Tools utilized during employment
  • Contributions to retirement savings
  • Garnishments for defaulted loans
  • Garnishments for child support
  • Garnishments for alimony
  • Deductions for investments

Specific regulations govern the deduction of wages for employees. Employers bear responsibility for any unlawful deductions, which could result in remedies such as back pay, liquidated damages, and reimbursement of legal fees for Florida employment attorneys.

Permissible employee wage deductions extend up to the final paycheck following resignation or termination. Legislation related to final paychecks necessitates that employers remit payment on the subsequent regular payday after the employee’s last working day.

Are Salaried Employees Eligible for Breaks and Leaves in Florida?

Unlike certain states such as California and New York, which impose strict obligations on employers to offer breaks, Florida does not fall into this category. The decision to allow employees meal breaks and rest breaks largely rests with the employer’s discretion.

As such, within the state of Florida, employers are not obliged to grant meal periods or rest breaks to employees aged 18 and above. Instead, employers are guided by the regulations outlined in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which similarly does not mandate such breaks. It’s worth noting that Florida’s sole requirement for a meal break pertains to employees under the age of 18.

Can Salaried Employees Request Flexible Work Arrangements in Florida?

In Florida, a “flexible work schedule” refers to a schedule that necessitates approval to deviate from the standard work hours, usually amounting to 40 hours per week for full-time employees. Variations could encompass working on weekends, extending over consecutive days, and embracing durations exceeding or falling short of the standard eight hours per day. Furthermore, a flexible work schedule might be essential during an extended work period if the weekly hours fluctuate (averaging around 40 hours) or consistently surpass 40 hours.

The work schedule assigned to the employee, whether conforming to the standard or adhering to flexibility, establishes the routine hours the employee is expected to work. Consequently, in most cases, work schedules are designed to be “permanent” in nature. This signifies that once they are established, changes should not be made arbitrarily unless there is a shift in business requirements or the adjustment is sanctioned by the agency to address an ongoing employee necessity.

Understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status in Florida

Understanding the distinction between exempt and non-exempt status is crucial for salaried employees to navigate their rights and responsibilities effectively. 

What is the Definition and Implications of Exempt Status in Florida?

An exempt employee refers to a category of worker not entitled to receive overtime pay for surpassing 40 hours in a week. This exemption pertains to employees earning a salary of at least $684 weekly ($35,568 annually) and engaging in specific job duties, encompassing roles like executive, administrative, professional, computer-related, or outside sales positions. These job responsibilities are legally defined within the FLSA, and additional details can be found on the Department of Labor’s website.

Exempt employees offer several advantages to businesses, especially in managerial capacities, granting them the flexibility to work beyond the 40-hour limit without extra remuneration. Their hiring can lead to enhanced efficiency, cost reduction, and the cultivation of a culture centered on dedication and cooperation. Often, exempt employees enjoy more adaptable schedules, ultimately resulting in job satisfaction and heightened productivity.

To ensure adherence to the FLSA and Florida Labor Laws, comprehending their implications for exempt employees is vital. Employers must accurately classify their workforce in alignment with the legal differentiation between exempt and non-exempt workers. Missteps in this regard could result in wage and hour disputes, claims, and legal actions that could prove financially burdensome for businesses.

When making classification determinations, meticulously assessing the employee’s job description and duties is crucial in gauging whether they align with the legal criteria for exempt employees. Incorrectly categorizing employees, whether through intention or negligence, could give rise to complaints, disputes, and legal complications that have the potential to incur substantial costs for your business.

What are the Differences Between Exempt and Non-Exempt Salaried Employees in Florida?

Aspect Exempt Employees Non-exempt Employees
Definition Not entitled to overtime pay for exceeding 40 hours per week Eligible for overtime pay for working over 40 hours per week
Pay Structure Paid on a salary basis Paid hourly
Overtime No overtime pay regardless of hours worked beyond 40 Entitled to 1.5x regular pay for hours exceeding 40
Monitoring Hours Not expected to track hours worked Expected to track and report hours worked
Employee Type Often managerial or professional roles Blue-collar workers, clerical staff, or retail employees
Compensation Typically costs more due to skill and discretion expected Hourly rate, flexibility in scheduling
Stability Stable paycheck, benefit eligibility Varied hours, potential for instability
Paid Time Off May qualify for paid vacation/sick time Typically not eligible for paid time off

How to Determine if You're Exempt or Non-Exempt in Florida?

Determining whether you fall under the category of an Exempt or Non-Exempt Employee in Florida involves applying three fundamental tests, as established by the FLSA:

  • Salary Level Test: Employees earning an annual salary surpassing $35,568 ($684 per week) possess eligibility (though not guaranteed) to be classified as exempt.
  • Salary Basis Test: Employees receiving a guaranteed minimum compensation, regardless of the actual hours worked, may qualify (though not guaranteed) for exempt status.
  • Duties Test: An employee satisfying the requirements outlined in the first two tests must also perform exempt job duties, which may encompass executive duties that involve supervising two or more employees as a regular aspect of the job, professional duties that encompass engaging in intellectual activities necessitating specialized education and the use of discretion and judgment, and administrative duties that entail executing supportive operations related to significant matters, demanding discretion and judgment.

Download U.S. FLSA Exemption Salary Threshold 2024 Poster now.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Florida

What are the Minimum Wage Requirements for Salaried Employees in Florida?

Currently, Florida’s minimum wage stands at $12 per hour, but it is scheduled to increase to $13.00 by September 30, 2024. For salaried employees, a weekly minimum of $684 is required.

Florida’s regulations dictate that employers adhere to the prevailing minimum wage. Nevertheless, they have the option to offer higher compensation for roles that require specific skills.

Additionally, employers are obligated to exhibit the Florida Minimum Wage Poster in a prominent spot at their workplace.

How is Overtime Compensated for Salaried Employees in Florida?

Similar to hourly employees, if a salaried employee exceeds 40 working hours within a given workweek, they are eligible for an overtime wage of one and a half times their regular rate. Explore our comprehensive guide for calculating overtime in Florida for further information.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Florida

What are the Permissible Deductions from Salaried Employee Pay in Florida?

As per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are forbidden from reducing the salary of a salaried employee based on reduced work hours or availability, given that the employee remains prepared and willing to perform their duties.

In a similar vein, employers are not allowed to deduct pay for half-day absences. This implies that if an employee takes a half-day off, their full day’s pay should still be provided.

Nonetheless, there exist permissible deductions that employers can deduct from the pay of salaried employees, including unpaid disciplinary suspensions, excessive use of benefit days, and personal leaves.

Should an employee frequently face permissible deductions, they might potentially jeopardize their exempt status under the FLSA.

What are the Provided Employee Benefits and Protections Under Florida State Law?

Florida laws offer various protections and benefits which include the following:

  • Florida regulations forbid employers from engaging in discrimination and retaliation against workers in various protected categories. Additionally, employers are mandated to ensure pay equity and safeguard individuals who blow the whistle on misconduct. 
  • The state of Florida mandates the utilization of E-Verify and allows for pre-employment background screenings and drug tests. 
  • Florida enacts laws governing employee compensation and benefits, encompassing wage disbursement, salary deductions, and the continuation of healthcare coverage. 
  • Employees hold entitlements to specific leaves or periods off, encompassing domestic violence leave, jury duty leave, witness leave, military leave, and Civil Air Patrol leave. 
  • Florida strictly prohibits smoking in workplaces and texting while driving. Moreover, employees are granted the right to carry firearms within privately owned vehicles on employer premises.
  • Upon the conclusion of employment, Florida employers must adhere to pertinent final compensation and job reference stipulations.
  • In Florida, obligations concerning the minimum wage and the employment of minors are also outlined.

Taking Action Against Violations in Florida

How to Report Violations to Authorities or Labor Departments in Florida?

Instances of violations in labor or employment law might pertain to wage and hour discrepancies, hazardous work environments, or prejudicial treatment. In Florida, it’s generally necessary to file reports concerning labor or employment law violations with the nearby branch of a federal agency. 

Florida lacks its own entities for implementing wage and hour or workplace safety protocols. The selection of the appropriate agency hinges on whether the grievance pertains to wages and hours, unsafe working conditions, or workplace bias.

A discrimination charge can be initiated against employers (or potential employers for an applicant) by completing a questionnaire provided by the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR)

Employees can utilize an online complaint form by OSHA to report any unsafe conditions or hazards at the workplace. This form requires comprehensive details about the company and work site, along with a thorough description of the hazard and its location. 

To file an hours or wages complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wages and Hours Division (WHD), employees can contact a regional office or locate the nearest WHD area office for a visit in person.

Case Studies and Real-Life Scenarios of Salaried Employee Rights Violations in Florida

Employee Misclassification: Florida Company Incorrectly Classified Security Guards

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida has issued a ruling in favor of the Department of Labor (DOL) in its enforcement action against Freeman Security Services Inc., a Central Florida-based company specializing in security services, and its owner, Darren Freeman. In Walsh v. Freeman Sec. Servs., the court found that the company had wrongly labeled at least 76 security guards as independent contractors, leading to the denial of essential wage and hour benefits they were entitled to under the law.

Of particular note is the fact that the company paid these affected security guards regular wages regardless of the actual hours they worked. As a result, the court had mandated the payment of $117,880 in back wages along with liquidated damages. The Wage and Hour Division of the DOL highlighted that violations related to overtime, minimum wage, and employee misclassification remain significant concerns for the federal agency as it announced this enforcement action.

Lessons Learned from the Case

  • The case underscores the importance of accurately classifying workers as employees or independent contractors. 
  • The case highlights the significance of providing overtime compensation to eligible employees. 
  • The award of liquidated damages serves as a reminder that violations of labor laws can result in additional financial penalties beyond back wages. Employers need to prioritize compliance to avoid such consequences.

Employee Classification: Uber Drivers Asserted as Independent Contractors and Not Employees by Florida Court

In 2017, the case of Darrin E. McGillis, Appellant, v. LLC UBER showed a distinctive scenario that pertains to the classification of workers in emerging technology-driven sectors like ride-sharing, where the question arises whether they should be designated as independent contractors or employees. 

A higher court in Florida deliberated on whether Uber drivers should be correctly categorized as independent contractors or employees, particularly concerning eligibility for benefits under Florida’s unemployment insurance statute.

After examining both the contractual arrangement between Uber and the drivers and the overall nature of their relationship, the appellate court determined that Uber’s level of control did not align with that typically exercised over traditional employees. As a result, the court concluded that Uber drivers do not qualify for benefits under Florida’s unemployment insurance statute.

Lessons Learned from the Case

  • The case highlights the ongoing challenge of classifying workers in emerging technology-driven fields like ride-sharing. 
  • This case serves as a reference point for the complex interplay between evolving work models, legal classifications, and the implications for worker benefits.

Wage Deduction: Employees Denied Recovering of Unpaid Overtime Pay and Liquidated Damages

In the Kuchinskas v. Broward County case, William Kuchinskas and Roberta Hartwell initiated legal action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Their Complaint alleges that they, along with other current and former employees of Broward County (County), have the right to recover unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages. 

This claim is based on the County’s alleged implementation of a policy or practice that compelled employees to use accrued “leave compensation” or reduce their actual pay to cover partial-day absences. According to the terms of 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), an additional 115 current and former County employees have chosen to join the class lawsuit. These collective members collectively seek overtime pay and liquidated damages spanning the three years before the initiation of this lawsuit up to the present time

In the case, the Court concluded that the deductions were found to be unintentional and stemmed from reasons other than a scarcity of work. The County was found to have effectively addressed any prior violations of the FLSA through corrective actions, explicitly amending its personnel policies, and reimbursing employees for deductions related to partial-day absences.

Furthermore, no evidence has been presented to indicate that the County made these deductions from employees in the Executive, Administrative, and Professional (EAP) category due to a lack of available work. While the regulation regarding the timeframe for correction needed not be interpreted conjunctively, the Court determined that the County has fulfilled both aspects of the regulation. Consequently, the employees had no basis for seeking additional remedies.

Lessons Learned from the Case

  • This case serves as a reminder for employers to diligently review their payroll practices, accurately classify employees, and ensure compliance with FLSA regulations 
  • The case showcases the significance of corrective actions when violations are identified. Employers are reminded to promptly correct errors and take measures to rectify any wage-related discrepancies
  • The Court’s decision underscores the effectiveness of addressing violations through explicit amendments to personnel policies and reimbursement of affected employees.
  • The absence of evidence indicating deductions were due to a lack of work and the Court’s analysis of the unintentional nature of deductions emphasize the importance of presenting clear and accurate information when defending against wage and hour claims.

Final Thoughts

Having a solid grasp of their legal entitlements and safeguards is essential for salaried employees in Florida. Being well-versed in these rights enables workers to prevent potential violations and advocate for their well-being.

Staying informed about changes in labor laws is crucial for maintaining a favorable work environment in the state of Florida. Given the complexity of employment regulations, seeking expert counsel, like consulting with an employment attorney or reaching out to the U.S. Department of Labor, can provide invaluable insights and guidance.

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.