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3 facts for teens about getting paid to work in Florida

It's an exciting time when you get your first job, but there are some things you need to know. While you might want to take whatever wages you're offered, there are actually laws that determine how much you must be paid and when. These laws make sure you aren't taken advantage of, especially since you're under the age of 18.

1. Florida has a minimum wage above the federal minimum

Like many states, Florida's minimum wage is higher than the national requirement. In Florida, you should receive $8.05 per hours unless you are an employee who receives tips and gratuities. The minimum wage for people receiving tips is $3.02 per hour.

If your employer does not pay the minimum wage, then you may contact the Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security. You have four years from the time of the discrepancy to make a claim for your missing wages. You may want to talk to your attorney before filing to make sure you have the evidence you need for the department.

2. Teenagers have special labor laws that apply to them

As a teen, you have special requirements you must meet to work in Florida. Your employer must obtain an age certificate from your school if you are under the age of 18. If you plan to work as an entertainer, your agent or employer needs to make an application to show the date of your employment, the number of days you'll work, where you'll work and when the work ends. If you planned to perform door-to-door sales, you must be at least 16 except if you are working for a nonprofit organization.

3. You deserve your entire pay in a timely manner

It's most often that employers fail to pay small amounts here and there, like failing to pay for a few hours of overtime or forgetting a person's shift on payroll. This adds up, and teens shouldn't be afraid to speak up. It's important to keep track of your hours and to make sure they're accounted for on each paycheck. If an employer fails to pay the owed money within a reasonable amount of time, then it's possible to seek a claim against that employer for compensation. The employer could face a number of penalties for violating state wage laws.

Any teen who finds an employer is failing in his or her duties to pay needs to speak out. Have a conversation with your employer and see what the problem is. Your parents may want to have a word with your employer, or you may need to work with a legal professional to start a claims process and to have the employer investigated.

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