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Florida Labor Laws

A Primer on Child Labor, Unionization, Minimum Wage and Other Employment Law

By Marcus Johnson

Florida Labor Laws
Jim Arbogast / Getty Images

Florida’s labor laws govern every business operating in our state. They regulate the employer-employee relationship in many areas, including unionization, child labor, minimum wages, working hours and acceptable working practices. In this article, we examine the labor laws affecting Florida businesses and their employees.

At Will Employment in Florida

Florida is an at-will employment state. That means that either the employee or the employer can break their relationship without any formal consequences or sanctions. The only exceptions are if the employee signed a contract that contains an explicit a duration of work, or if the employer was part of a collective bargaining group and didn’t notify the union before such a move was taken. “At-will employment” means that employees work at the whim of their employer. They can be fired for any reason at all, even if they had many years of service or good job performance. Although employees can also break the relationship without retribution, this law was meant to provide the employer flexible options for labor.

Minimum Wage in Florida

Minimum wage is a federal law that applies in every state. Each state must set a minimum wage, but the rate of that wage is left to each state legislature. In 2014, the State of Florida raised its minimum wage from $7.67 per hour to $7.93 per hour. Florida’s minimum wage has risen over the past half-decade, starting at $6.15 in 2005. Florida has the power in the future to either raise or lower their minimum wage, as long as it is at or above the federally imposed minimum of $.7.25

Child Labor Laws in Florida

Child labor is another area that the federal government regulates for the entire country, but allows the states to customize their laws to the needs of their constituents. The minimum age to work in Florida is 14 and children must provide proof of age to their employer prior to starting work. Children aged 14 or 15 years are only allowed to work three hours per day, and no more than 15 hours per week. In the summer however, these rules are relaxed to allow 14 and 15 year olds to work 8 hours per day. During the school year, 16 and 17 year olds cannot work more than 30 hours per week, and are permitted only 8 hours each day. Summer hours are unrestricted for this age group. No minors are allowed to work late night shifts between the hours of 11:30 pm and 6:30 am.

Right to Work in Florida

Florida is also a right to work state, which means that when employees join a unionized company, they do not have to join the company’s union. They are still subject to any rules or regulations that may be collectively bargained, but they don’t have to pay union dues or any other union fees.
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