Skip to Main Content
Quick and Easy Guide to Labor & Employment Law: Florida

This state-specific guide covers labor and employment case law, statutes, rules, and regulations that HR professionals and clients often encounter or have questions about in Florida.

At-Will Employment

The employer/employee relationship is governed by the at-will employment doctrine. This means that either party may terminate the relationship at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice. Florida's Whistleblower Act is an exception to the at-will doctrine and provides a cause of action against employers who wrongfully discharge an employee because the employee objected to or refused to participate in the employer's illegal practices. Fla. Stat. § 448.102; Schultz v. Tampa Elec. Co., 704 So. 2d 605, 606 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997). Absent those created by statute, Florida, unlike other states, rarely recognizes an exception to the at-will employment doctrine.

Right-to-Work Laws

An employer cannot deny nor otherwise condition an employee's right to work upon that employee's membership or non-membership in any labor union or labor organization. Further, an employer cannot deny nor otherwise interfere with an employee's right to organize, or to bargain collectively, by and through a labor organization. Also, public employees do not have the right to strike. Fla. Const. Art. 1, § 6.

Immigration Verification

Beginning January 1, 2021, a private employer must verify each employee's employment eligibility by either using the E-Verify system or requiring the person to provide the same documentation that is required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on its Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) form. Private employers electing to use the I-9 documentation option must maintain a copy of the documentation provided for at least three years after the person's initial date of employment.

All contractors and vendors servicing the city of Bonita Springs are required to use E-Verify to verify employment authorization for all new hires during their contract terms. Exceptions apply for 1) individual contactors; 2) contracts for services under $5,000; and 3) single performance contracts to be completed in less than 30 days.

Contractors and subcontractors servicing Hernando County are required to use E-Verify for all new hires.

NOTE: Florida is the second state (after Mississippi) to participate in the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services' "Records and Information from DMVs for E-Verify (RIDE)" program. Using RIDE, the E-Verify system can validate the authenticity of Florida driver's licenses used by employees as Form I-9 identity documents.

Drug Testing

The State of Florida allows for private employers to implement workplace drug and alcohol testing. Fla. Stat. § 440.101. The drug and alcohol testing programs must conform to specific requirements, which may be found here Fla. Stat. § 440.102, as well as any rule or regulation adopted by the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the employee must be notified that it is a condition of employment that the employee refrain from reporting to work or working with the presence of drugs or alcohol in his or her body. Employers should cautiously approach drug testing as it can present substantial hurdles.

Jury Duty Leave

It is unlawful for an employer to discharge, or threaten to discharge, an employee because of his or her jury service. Fla. Stat. § 40.271.

Voting Leave

The State of Florida has no specific law requiring time off to vote.

Parental Leave

The State of Florida does not require a private employer to offer to its employees parental leave. However, it is unlawful for a public employer to discharge or discriminate against a public employee because she or he has requested, or returned from, parental leave. Fla. Stat. § 110.221.

Other Leave

The State of Florida does not require employers to offer to employees paid vacation or sick leave.

Smoking Laws

Under the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, Fla. Stat. § 386.201, et seq., smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas not specifically exempted by statute, including professional offices and other work places. Florida's Constitution, specifically Article X, Section 20, further prohibits smoking in enclosed, indoor workspaces, subject to certain exceptions. By law, employers must adopt and implement policies consistent with these laws, and employers are encouraged to "increase public awareness" by posting "NO SMOKING" signs as deemed appropriate. Fla. Stat. § 386.206.

Break Time to Express Milk

The State of Florida recognizes that the breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture that must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values. A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present. Fla. Stat. § 383.015. The State of Florida has no law specifically regulating breastfeeding in the workplace.

Meal Breaks

The State of Florida has no law regulating meal breaks or rest periods.

Minimum Wage

For the last several years, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Economic Opportunity adjusted the minimum wage each year on September 30 based on the percentage increase in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the South Region for the prior 12-month period. Fla. Stat. § 448.110. The current minimum wage as of April 2021 is $8.65 per hour. On November 3, 2020, Florida voters approved an Amendment to the Florida Constitution, increasing the minimum wage to $10 per hour on September 30, 2021, and an additional $1 per hour on each anniversary thereof until $15 per hour is reached on September 30, 2026. The tipped employee rates of pay are lower, but also increase annually from 2021 through 2026, peaking at $11.98 per hour September 30, 2026.

Employers must prominently display a poster substantially similar to the one made available in subsection three of Fla. Stat. § 448.109 in a conspicuous and accessible place in each establishment where such employees are employed. Fla. Stat. § 448.109(2). Employers must still comply with federal wage laws and regulations.

Final Payments

The State of Florida has no law regulating final payments to employees.

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance benefits provide income to individuals who have lost work through no fault of their own. The benefits are intended to partially offset the loss of wages while an unemployed worker searches for suitable work, or until an employer can recall the employee to work. Nothing is deducted from the employee's wages to pay for this coverage. Unemployment benefits are administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and additional information regarding the benefits may be accessed at www.floridajobs.org/.

Workers' Compensation

The Florida Workers' Compensation Law, Fla. Stat. § 440.01, et seq., applies to every employer in the construction industry, and every other employer in Florida with four or more employees. Employees who suffer injuries and/or occupational diseases arising out of and in the course of their employment may be eligible to receive several types of benefits. Under the Law, a workplace injury must be immediately reported to the employer; failing to timely report an injury may result in a denial of benefits. Florida's Workers' Compensation Law is administered by the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation and additional information may be accessed at https://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/.

It is unlawful to discriminate or retaliate against an employee because she or he has sought benefits or participated in proceedings under the Law. Fla. Stat. §§ 440.105; 440.205. Moreover, if the injured employee is a minor employed, permitted or suffered to work in violation of any of the child labor laws, the employer shall also be liable to pay such additional compensation the judge determines in its discretion. Fla. Stat. § 440.54. The total shall not exceed double the amount otherwise payable under this chapter, and the employer, not an insurer, must pay this amount. Id.

Additional Laws & Regulations

Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992

The Act, which may be found at Fla. Stat. § 760.01, et seq., mimics federal laws in that it prohibits discrimination because of an individual's race, religion, color, sex, national origin, handicap or age. The Act further prohibits discrimination because of an individual's marital status. The Act applies to all employers with 15 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Prior to filing a lawsuit under the Act, an employee has 365 days from the date of the wrongful act to file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Record Keeping

Florida has specific laws regarding the time and manner in which certain records must be maintained:

  • Fla. Stat. § 440.102(9): All documentation concerning a positive result on a drug/alcohol test must be maintained for at least one year.
  • Fla. Stat. § 443.071; Fla. Admin. Code 60BB-2.032: All payroll records must be maintained for five years following the calendar year in which the services were rendered.
  • Fla. Stat. § 443.171; Fla. Admin. Code 60BB-2.032: All "work records" must be maintained for five years following the calendar year in which the services were rendered.
  • Fla. Stat. § 447.07: Any documentation concerning the accounts of any labor organizations must be maintained; however, a specific retention period is not provided.
  • Fla. Stat. § 450.045: Any documentation concerning a minor's proof of age must be maintained for the duration of his or her employment.
  • Fla. Admin. Code 69L-3.004: With regard to workers' compensation, any documentation concerning injury reports or earnings must be maintained for at least two and one-half years after the date of injury or illness is reported.

Reference Immunity

An employer who, upon request, discloses information about a former or current employee to a prospective employer of the former or current employee is immune from civil liability for such disclosure or its consequences, unless it is shown that the information disclosed by the former or current employer was knowingly false or violated any civil right of the former or current employee. Fla. Stat. § 768.095.

Domestic Violence

An employer, who employs 50 or more employees, shall permit an employee to request and take up to three working days of leave in any 12-month period if the employee or a family or household member of an employee is the victim of domestic violence or sexual violence. This leave may be with or without pay, at the discretion of the employer. Fla. Stat. § 741.313(2)(a). This leave is protected by law, and an employer shall not discriminate or retaliate against an employee exercising his or her right to such leave. Fla. Stat. § 741.313(2)(a).

Child Labor Laws

Minors of any age may be employed as pages in the Florida Legislature, by the entertainment industry as prescribed in Sections 450.012 and 450.132, and in domestic or farm work in connection with their own homes or farm or ranch on which they live. Fla. Stat. § 450.021(1). No person ten or younger shall sell or distribute newspapers. No person 13 years or younger shall be employed, permitted or suffered to work in any gainful employment at any time. Id. § 450.021(2), (3).Employers who employ children must keep in their records a photo of the child's birth certificate, a photo of the child's drivers' license, an age certificate issued by the district school board of the district in which the child is employed, and a copy of a passport or visa that lists the child's date of birth. Id. § 450.045(1). There are also restrictions on the hours upon which a child may work that can be found at Fla. Stat. § 450.081.

Wage Rate Discrimination Prohibited

Florida prohibits discrimination in pay on the basis of sex and the language of its act, which is found at Fla. Stat. § 448.07, mirrors the Equal Pay Act.

Unauthorized Aliens

It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to employ, hire, recruit, or refer for private or public employment within the state, an alien who is not duly authorized to work by the immigration laws or the Attorney General of the United States. Fla. Stat. § 448.09(1).

Medical Marijuana Law

Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution allows medical marijuana as treatment for patients with certain debilitating medical conditions. The law took effect on January 3, 2017. The law shall not "require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana" at the person's place of employment and prohibits driving while under the influence of medical marijuana. This suggests an employer may prohibit use of the medical marijuana at work and may prohibit such employee from driving on company business. Although the State of Florida will soon allow the use of medical marijuana, it is still prohibited by federal law. Indeed, the law provides that "nothing in this section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law." Seek counsel for specific questions concerning the effect of the law on related laws like reasonable accommodations under the ADA, drug testing, etc. However, the Florida Department of Health is required to issue reasonable regulations necessary for the implementation and enforcement of the amendment.

Have Questions?
Let's Talk!

Click the button above to reach out to a
Baker Donelson L&E Professional.

Disclaimer: These materials do not constitute
legal advice and should not be substituted
for the advice of legal counsel.

Guide last updated July 2021.

Email Disclaimer

NOTICE: The mailing of this email is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Anything that you send to anyone at our Firm will not be confidential or privileged unless we have agreed to represent you. If you send this email, you confirm that you have read and understand this notice.
Cancel Accept