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Will Florida pass a uniform wage-and-hour law?

Local governments have had the right to implement their own labor laws when it comes to government workers and contractors. However, this may all be about to change, as state lawmakers have begun to introduce legislation that could defeat the local laws enacted in Miami-Dade County. As a result, supporters of the county wage-and-hour law came out in force to protest the proposed legislation.

Miami-Dade has passed laws that impose higher burdens on many businesses to pay their employees a higher wage. Public contractors have been required to provide their workers with health benefits. The employment laws also require employers to give victims of domestic abuse 30 days of unpaid leave.

However, the recent legislative proposals introduced at the state house have put these and other laws at risk of being preempted. The state-wide law would impose uniform wage laws and also prohibit local governments from mandating that employers provide their workers with health insurance. The state-wide proposal has gathered substantial support from organizations across the state, including the Florida Retail Association and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

There remains much to be determined with regards to the proposed changes to the wage-and-hour law set forth in Miami-Dade County. However, until the bill has been signed into law, workers are still entitled to the benefits that have been set forth by the local laws. If a violation of these laws occurs, the worker may be able to make a claim for damages that can include back pay for the wages they should have earned during the period that their employer was in violation. In the interim, workers will likely want to follow the progress of any proposed laws potentially affecting them in the Florida legislature.

Source: Miami Herald, "Miami-Dade politicians blast Legislature over wage laws," Patricia Mazzei, March 7, 2013

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