The "Fight for 15" movement has seen a lot of action over the past few years, and that action has helped to raise the wages of many people in areas around the country. In Florida, though, attempts to raise wages have had mixed results, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think.
Way Ahead of You
First of all, Florida employers tend to pay some pretty good wages. Certainly, there are those companies that pay minimum wage, but many offer wages that are at least a couple of dollars per hour higher, if not more. Not only does this help the workers, but it also makes the job market a little more competitive. Employers hoping to retain employees should keep watch over reported average wages in different fields so that those companies' wages stay competitive, too.
Living vs. Minimum Wage
It should also be noted that Florida's minimum wage did go up on January 1, 2017, to $8.10 per hour for non-tipped employees. This was only a 5-cent raise over the previous year, but even an extra 5 cents per hour can help.
However, in areas with a high cost of living, the minimum wage really isn't enough to be considered a living wage, one that would allow workers to live in a reasonable manner. What this means for employers in Florida is that there will likely be more pressure to raise the basic wage to higher levels.
Rising wages shouldn't be a surprise and certainly shouldn't be forbidden at companies; people do need to keep up with the rising cost of living. But large jumps, such as the quest to get a minimum wage of $15 per hour, have raised concerns at businesses operating on thin margins. While raises like these are often graduated, rising in intervals over a few years, if your company doesn't have the income to cover the raises, something has to go. That could be services, employees, or other features of the business. A common tactic in restaurants has been to raise prices, though the increases have been minor for the most part.
Given that workers will most likely still advocate for higher wages, it's in your best interests to start planning now. Get a reserve fund in place to cover sudden changes to laws, and figure out how to run your business should basic wages see a major increase.
Where Does This Leave Contractors?
If you work with independent contractors, you know that most contractors and freelancers have rates that provide an hourly equivalent well above minimum wage. While it is common to try to negotiate these rates, be aware that your counter-offers should never provide an hourly equivalent of less than minimum wage. That will make the contractors avoid you.
Instead, keep an eye on what other companies seem to be paying their contractors and go from there. If you want to be competitive, you have to consider how your offered rates affect your contractors' bottom line, too.