Every business owner knows that his or her business may be a target for fraudulent lawsuits. If you own a Florida business and you are sued for a purported wage-and-hour violation, or if you are sued by a contractor claiming to be an employee, speak to a central Florida business attorney.

Of the many laws that employers must understand and adhere to, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is among the most important. Keep reading for an introduction to the FLSA, what it requires, and why FLSA compliance is so necessary if you are a business owner.

Many employers in Florida have been wrongly sued for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. When the Act became law in 1938, it established the right to a minimum wage and to time-and-a-half overtime pay when an employee works more than forty hours a week.

To Which Employees Does the FLSA Apply?

The FLSA applies to “any individual employed by an employer,” but independent contractors and volunteers are not considered employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

However, employers cannot exempt workers from FLSA provisions simply by calling them independent contractors, and some Florida employers have mistakenly and illegally classified certain workers as independent contractors.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but Florida exceeds the federal requirement. Florida’s minimum wage in 2020 is $8.56 per hour. Florida’s minimum wage is subject to change each year based on the annual inflation rate.

The overtime rate is one-and-one-half times the normal pay rate after forty hours of work in a work week. In most cases, overtime earned in a particular week must be paid on the usual pay day for the pay period when the overtime was earned.

Can FLSA Requirements be Waived?

The Fair Labor Standards Act forbids an employer and employee to agree mutually to waive the overtime pay requirement, so business owners should not even approach employees about making another arrangement.

The FLSA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, which can refer employers for criminal prosecution if they willfully violate the statute. Employers additionally cannot retaliate against or terminate an employee for filing a complaint regarding an alleged FLSA violation.

Which Employees are Exempt from FLSA Wage and Overtime Provisions?

The FLSA exempts some employees from the overtime pay rules or from both the minimum wage and overtime pay regulations.

Employees who are exempted from both the minimum wage and the overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act include but are not limited to:

1. Administrative, executive, and professional employees including teachers and academic administrative personnel, and outside sales employees

2. Employees of certain seasonal or recreational businesses, crew members working on foreign vessels, employees of fishing operations, and newspaper delivery employees

3. Agricultural workers for employers who used no more than 500 “man-days” of farm labor in any quarter of the preceding calendar year

4. Babysitters and anyone working as a companion to the infirm or elderly

Which Employees are Exempt Only from FLSA Overtime Provisions?

Employees who are exempted only from the FLSA’s overtime pay provisions include but are not limited to:

1. Certain commissioned retail and service employees; auto, trailer, truck, farm implement, aircraft, or boat salespersons, and the mechanics and parts clerks who service those items or sell parts for those items for employers who are not manufacturers

2. Employees of air carriers and railroads, taxicab drivers, certain employees of motor carriers, crew members on U.S.-based vessels, and local delivery workers who are paid on a per-delivery basis

3. Domestic service workers who reside in an employer’s residence

4. Agricultural workers

Does the FLSA Impose Rules for Recordkeeping?

The FLSA requires employers to keep comprehensive and precise records regarding wages, hours, and overtime, but no specific recordkeeping system is required. The records required for exempt employees are different from those required for nonexempt workers.

Additional information is required for employees who work from home, employees working under unique or unusual pay arrangements, employees for whom lodging is provided, and for employees who are attending an educational facility as part of their employment duties.

Payroll records must be kept for three years. Timecards and work and time schedules must be kept for two years. If an employer fails to keep accurate records, that employer may have no way to challenge non-exempt employees who claim they were not paid properly for hours worked.

What Else is Required of Florida Employers?

All employers in Florida must display an approved Florida minimum wage poster in a prominent location to inform employees about the minimum wage and their workers’ rights under Florida labor laws.

Understanding your legal obligations as an employer is not easy, but if you fail to understand and adhere to federal and state wage and overtime laws, it is almost inevitable that you will be taken to court by an employee or a former employee who claims that he or she was not paid fairly.

When both state and federal laws and regulations are considered, employers in Florida face a confusing and sometimes overlapping patchwork of wage and overtime rules. Yet even a minor violation or mistake can cost you in lost hours, legal fees, and paperwork and red tape.

How Can the Right Business Attorney Help You?

That is one reason why every Florida business owner needs access to the advice and services of a Florida business lawyer. A trustworthy business attorney can function as a business owner’s guide through the confusing tangle of state and federal wage, hour, and overtime regulations.

The Fair Labor Standards Act is a particularly complicated federal law with dozens of provisions, amendments, and exceptions.

A business attorney’s sound and frank advice can help employers avoid FLSA-related problems with the U.S. Department of Labor and potential wage-and-hour-related lawsuits from current and former employees. But don’t wait until you need a business lawyer; that may be too late.

When Should You Speak with a Florida Business Attorney?

In a more general sense, a central Florida business attorney can help employers put solutions in place before problems surface and become serious legal difficulties. The right business attorney will help you reduce your liability and minimize your losses.

If you are a business owner in Florida, you need a reliable legal partner at your side – right now – who is working on your behalf on an ongoing basis. Getting the legal advice, insights, and services you need begins with a simple phone call, and the time to make that call is now.