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Florida’s Minimum Wage Increasing on January 1, 2012

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 11/15/2011
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Effective January 1, 2012, Florida’s minimum wage will be $7.67 per hour. This represents an increase of 36 cents over the 2011 minimum wage of $7.31 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees will increase by the same amount to $4.65 per hour, up from the 2011 minimum hourly wage of $4.29.

Florida’s minimum wage is the result of a 2004 voter-approved amendment to the Florida Constitution, and it applies to all Florida employees who are covered by the federal minimum wage.

Every year, Florida’s minimum wage must be recalculated to consider the rate of inflation during the prior year. Since the Florida Supreme Court held that the law “does not provide for decreases in the minimum in times of deflation,” only upward adjustments are permitted.

The annual calculation, which must be completed by September 30th of each year, is based on the percentage change in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the South Region for the preceding 12-month period. The adjusted state minimum wage rate and the effective date must be posted annually by October 15th.

In the past, Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation was responsible for performing the annual calculations and posting the upcoming year’s new minimum wage rate. However, pursuant to a July 1, 2011 statutory amendment, the former Agency for Workforce Innovation is now part of the newly formed Department of Economic Opportunity.

Except for the judicially ordered June 1, 2011 minimum wage increase, Florida’s minimum wage has not increased since 2009, which is when Florida defaulted to the federal minimum wage. Under federal law, employers are required to pay either the federal minimum hourly wage or the state’s, whichever is higher. Since Florida’s 2012 minimum hourly wage will remain higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, employers must follow Florida law.

Accordingly, on January 1, 2012, Florida employers will have to increase their minimum hourly wage to $7.67; for tipped employees, the minimum hourly direct wage will have to increase to $4.65.

Since the consequences for failing to pay the correct minimum hourly wage can be severe, employers must be diligent in ensuring that their minimum wage employees are compensated properly.

If you would like to learn more about wage and hour matters, please click here.

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