As Florida employers prepare to wind down 2018, most are hoping for a quiet New Year when it comes dealing with employment laws. Although there is nothing of major concern coming down the pipeline at this time, there are two big changes you'll want to look out for in 2019.
Florida's new minimum wage rates go into effect next year, and the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, indicating their intention to update Federal overtime rules in 2019. Here's what you need to know so you can stay ahead of the game.
Florida's New Minimum Wage
The change to Florida's minimum wage, which was announced in October of 2018, goes into effect starting on the first of the year. The regular minimum wage is increasing by $0.21 per hour, moving from $8.25 to $8.46. For tipped employees, the rate is changing from $5.23 to $5.44. While the Federal minimum wage is expected to remain at $7.25 for the foreseeable future, employers in Florida must pay the higher rate as dictated by the state.
To stay in compliance with the change, employers must also prominently display a Florida Minimum Wage Poster in addition to the required Federal Minimum Wage Notice.
Proposed Overtime Rule Changes
The DOL is considering making some significant changes to overtime rules. To begin with, they'll evaluate the rules for exemptions from overtime pay, specifically in regards to salary levels. Currently, managers and employees with "specialized skills" like law or medicine, are exempt from receiving overtime pay if they earn more than $455 a week or $23,660 per year.
Under the Obama administration, these salary limits were raised to $913 a week and $47,476 per year, but they never went into effect. The proposed change was blocked by a Texas Federal judge who ruled that the administration had overstepped its boundaries by making such a drastic change.
Employers who had already begun budgeting for this change were obviously relieved, but also left with a great deal of uncertainty. This uncertainty continues today as we wait to see what the DOL will do next.
How to Prepare for Pending Changes
The DOL will begin working on these changes on January 1st. It's unclear what they will ultimately decide to do, but there has been some speculation that the salary limits will be raised to around $33,000. This would put the new limits about half-way between the current limits and the ones in the Obama-era updates. Some have also suggested that the exemption may continue for executives, administrative workers, and professionals regardless of the salary they earn.
To stay ahead of the game, you can start preparing yourself before the final ruling is issued. First, begin by ensuring that you're adhering to the current rules. To avoid potential increases to your payroll expenses, you may consider working with your employees to set up a schedule that won't require overtime hours. Depending on how the new ruling shakes out, you may also find that it's less expensive for you to raise salary levels or hire additional employees rather than pay overtime rates.
It's possible that other rule changes will happen over the course of the year, but these are the two that you need to keep on your radar right now. The best thing you can do as an employer is to stay on top of the latest news. The sooner you know about pending changes, the better you'll be able to adapt no matter what comes your way.