On November 2, 2004, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that created Florida’s minimum wage. The minimum wage applies to all employees in the state who are covered by the federal minimum wage. Florida law requires a new minimum wage calculation each year on September 30, based on the Consumer Price Index. If that calculation is higher than the federal rate, the state’s rate then would take effect the following January.

Florida’s minimum wage is currently $7.93 per hour, effective January 1, 2014. According to our discussions with state officials, beginning January 1, 2015, Florida’s minimum wage will be $8.05 per hour, which is a 1.54 percent (or $0.12) increase from the current year. This calculation is based on the percentage increase in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the South region for the 12-month period prior to September 1, 2014.

Employers of “tipped employees” may count tips actually received as wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) towards satisfaction of the state minimum wage. However, the employer must pay tipped employees a direct wage. The U.S. Department of Labor defines tipped employees as “any employee engaged in an occupation in which he or she customarily and regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips.”

Effective January 1, 2015, the new minimum wage for tipped employees will become $5.03 per hour, plus tips. This rate is calculated as equal to the tip credit ($3.02) subtracted from the minimum wage ($8.05).

In deciding whether the federal or state minimum wage applies, federal law dictates that businesses must pay the higher of the two. The Florida minimum wage will prevail over the federal rate until (and unless) the federal minimum wage becomes higher than the state rate.

Employers must pay their employees the hourly state minimum wage for all hours worked in Florida. The definitions of “employer,” “employee,” and “wage” for state purposes are the same as those established under the FLSA.

An employee who has not received the lawful minimum wage can bring a civil action in a court of law against an employer to recover back wages plus damages and attorneys’ fees. The state attorney general may also bring an action to enforce the state’s minimum wage.