February 2021 Florida HR Legal Updates

New Effective I-9 and E-Verify Requirements

Update Applicable to:
All Florida employers.

What happened?
A new law in Florida has updated how businesses, both private and public, must handle their I-9 verification process and the storage of related documents.

What are the details?
Public Employers: Beginning January 1, 2021, every public employer, contractor, and subcontractor in Florida must register with and use the E-Verify system to verify the work authorization status of all newly hired employees. No public contract may be entered into unless each party to the contract registers with and uses the E-Verify system.

Private Employers: Beginning January 1, 2021, a private employer must, after making an offer of employment that has been accepted by a person, verify the person’s employment eligibility by either using the E-Verify system or requiring the person to provide the same documentation that is required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on its Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Private employers utilizing the I-9 documentation option must maintain a copy of the documentation provided for at least three years after the person’s initial date of employment.

An article covering this law can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Florida employers should look to update their documentation storage process to ensure the ability to properly store documents for the required amount of time. Additionally, public employers, contractors, and subcontractors should update their I-9 verification process and immediately move to using E-Verify, when possible.

November 2020 Florida HR Legal Updates

Florida Voters Pass Minimum Wage Increases

What happened?
Voters in Florida passed Amendment 2, which will increase the state’s minimum wage over the next several years until it eventually hits $15 an hour.

What are the details?
Amendment 2 will increase Florida’s minimum wage to $10.00 effective September 30, 2021. The minimum wage of Florida will still increase from $8.56 per hour to $8.65 per hour, effective January 1, 2021. After the minimum wage hits $10.00, the minimum wage will climb by $1.00, until it reaches $15.00 an hour on September 30, 2026. At that time, Agency for Workforce Innovation will regain control of managing minimum wage increases. The Florida minimum wage applies to any employees who are covered by the federal minimum wage.

Employers who must pay their employee’s the Florida minimum wage must also post a notice of the state minimum wage.

The notice’s may be found here.

Amendment 2’s full text may be found here.

An article going over Amendment 2 in more detail can found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in Florida should keep this increase in mind and contact their Payroll specialist if they have any questions.

October 2020 Florida HR Legal Updates

Florida Minimum Wage Poster Available Now

What happened?
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has posted their new required minimum wage poster.

What are the details?
Florida’s minimum wage will be growing to $8.65 an hour effective January 1, 2021.

The official Notice to Employees can be found on the DEO’s website, here.

What do employers need to do?
Florida employers should post the new Notice to Employees before the January 1, 2021 effective date to remain in compliance with state laws.

June 2020 Florida HR Legal Updates

Florida Emergency Order Restricts Sale of Alcohol for On-Site Consumption

What happened?
The Secretary of Florida’s Department and Professional Regulation has passed an emergency order restricting the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption.

What are the details?
An emergency executive order was signed on June 26, 2020, that limited the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption. If a vendor is licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on-site, and they make more than 50% of their gross revenue from those sales, the vendor may no longer sell alcohol for consumption on-site. The vendor can still sell for pick up/consumption elsewhere.

Restaurants may continue to provide on-premises consumption of alcohol if they make 50% or less gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages that are consumed on-site. They must also still comply with Executive Order 20-139, which mandates they stay at 50% capacity indoors and outdoor dining must still practice social distancing measures.

The emergency executive order can be found here.

Executive Order 20-139 can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Vendors in Florida that make over 50% of their revenue from selling alcohol for on-site consumption should adjust their business practices to accommodate pick up/takeout orders. Restaurants should keep an eye on how much revenue they are generating through alcohol sales and continue complying with the capacity reduction and social distancing measures enforced by Executive Order 20-139.

Summary of State Laws (Q1 &Q2 2020)

Pinellas County Wage Theft Notice
Effective February 7, 2020, employers must provide written notice to employees at the time of hire and to all employees who work for the employer as of the date of the ordinance and in the future, containing:

  • The rate or rates of pay and basis thereof, whether paid by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece, commission, or otherwise, including any rates for overtime, as applicable
  • Allowances, if any, claimed as part of the minimum wage, including meal or lodging allowances
  • The regular payday designated by the employer
  • The name of the employer, including any “doing business as” names used by the employer
  • The physical address of the employer’s main office or principal place of business, and a mailing address, if different
  • The employer’s telephone number

 Employers must also provide the written notice to an employee whenever anything in the original written notice changes within seven calendar days after the time of the changes.

January 2020 Florida HR Legal Updates

Medical Marijuana

What happened?
This is the first bill filed in the Florida Legislature that would provide job protections for medical marijuana cardholders in Florida. The bill has a section covering public employers, the Medical Marijuana Public Employee Protection Act, and another section covering private employers, the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act. Both sections would prohibit “an employer from taking adverse personnel action against an employee or job applicant who is a qualified patient using medical marijuana,” require “an employer to provide written notice to an employee or job applicant who tests positive for marijuana of his or her right to explain the positive test result,” and to confirm testing before taking adverse action if there is no response by the employee or applicant as to the result.

What are the details?
Employers would not be required to extend protections to positions with “safety-sensitive job duties.” An employer may also take appropriate adverse personnel action against any employee if it “establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the lawful use of medical marijuana is impairing the employee’s ability to perform his or her job responsibilities,” particularly “if the employee displays specific articulable symptoms while working which decrease or lessen the performance of his or her duties or tasks.” “Safety-sensitive” is broadly defined to include tasks or duties of a job which the employer reasonably believes could affect the safety and health of the employee performing the tasks or duties or other persons, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

  1. The handling, packaging, processing, storage, disposal, or transport of hazardous materials.
  2. The operation of a motor vehicle, equipment, machinery, or power tools.
  3. The repair, maintenance, or monitoring of any equipment, machinery, or manufacturing process, the malfunction or disruption of which could result in injury or property damage.
  4. The performance of firefighting duties.
  5. The operation, maintenance, or oversight of critical services and infrastructure, including, but not limited to, electric, gas, and water utilities or power generation or distribution.
  6. The extraction, compression, processing, manufacturing, handling, packaging, storage, disposal, treatment, or transport of potentially volatile, flammable, combustible materials, elements, chemicals, or any other highly regulated component.
  7. The dispensing of pharmaceuticals.
  8. The carrying of a firearm.
  9. The direct care of a patient or child.

What do employers need to do?
Employers need to review their interview and hiring practices to ensure compliance, as well review new hire paperwork.

Bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/962; https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/595

Article: https://ogletree.com/insights/2020-01-14/new-year-new-legislative-session-greets-florida-employers/

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Family Leave Act

What happened?

Florida Family Leave Act will take effect July 1, 2020.

What are the details?
The proposed Florida Family Leave Act would require employers to allow employees who work an average of 20 or more hours per week and who have been employed for at least 18 months to take up to three months of paid family leave to bond with a minor child upon the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. This bill would also expressly prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, and provide for leave, maintenance of health coverage, reasonable accommodation, and job return rights for an employee who is disabled from pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. This version of the bill may prove to be problematic for employers because it covers part-time employees without defining a look-back period for the 20-hours-per-week determination. It is also unclear how these requirements would interact with short-term disability benefits, as well as how spouses/parents who work for the same employer would be treated.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should prepare for the Act to take place by reviewing employee handbooks and making the proper modifications to reflect the new leave.

Bill: http://flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/1194/BillText/Filed/HTML

Article: https://ogletree.com/insights/2020-01-14/new-year-new-legislative-session-greets-florida-employers/

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Heat Illness Prevention

What happened?
This is the first bill that would require Florida “employers in industries where employees regularly perform work in an outdoor environment, including, but not limited to, agriculture, construction and landscaping,” to provide drinking water, shade, and annual training to employees and supervisors. This takes effect October 1, 2020.

What are the details?
The bill would further require the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Department of Health “to adopt specified rules.” The requirements would give teeth to similar heat illness prevention guidance published by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

What do employers need to do?
Employers need to prepare for the law in October and gather supplies needed to ensure compliance.

Bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/513

Article: https://ogletree.com/insights/2020-01-14/new-year-new-legislative-session-greets-florida-employers/