Wage & Hour Laws -- Employee
Across the country, laws on final paychecks regulate how an employer must pay an employee’s last remaining wages. These rules outline when a final paycheck should be paid and what deductions an employer can legally make from it. Some federal law offers a few rules and guidelines under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but in general, individual state laws dictate the requirements for issuing last paychecks.
So whether an employer is based in Miami, Tampa, or Jacksonville, Florida’s state laws outline the responsibilities that employers have and the legal process an employee can pursue if they don’t receive their final paycheck. Understanding these laws is important to safeguard an employee’s rights.
Florida state law does not include specific rules that require employers to provide final checks in a certain minimum amount of time. The Department of Labor suggests that final paychecks should be delivered on the next scheduled pay day at the end of the next regular pay period, but that’s not necessarily what all employers have to do.
An employment contract may include an employer’s own timeframe for giving an employee their final paycheck that goes outside the next scheduled pay period. This could be enforced, as long as it does not exceed the state’s laws on the maximum time allowed between paychecks. In Florida, that maximum is usually 30 days. However, it’s recommended that you reach out for help to collect your missing check before then.
When an employee quits or otherwise loses their job, they often want to know if state law requires employers to pay for unused vacation days in the final paycheck. Florida law does not require employers to offer any paid vacation days, although many still do. Where there is an existing agreement in an employee’s employment contract to provide paid vacation, an employee may be able argue that the paid vacation days were part of their overall compensation package. If that argument is successful, the employee may be able to have those unused days included as additional pay in their final paycheck.
Employees should receive wages, including overtime pay, for the work they perform, and this should generally be at the rate agreed upon in the employment contract. However, an employer could withhold part of the final paycheck where the employee has expressly consented to a reduction, or for reasonable or necessary deductions, like taxes or a court-ordered payment. In most cases, an employer is not allowed to deduct so much from your paycheck that your pay rate falls below minimum wage.
If an employer fails to give the final paycheck on the next scheduled payday, the Department of Labor says that an employee in Florida should contact the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, or Florida’s labor department. The worker may then be able to register a complaint, at which point the department can file a case on the employee’s behalf to recover the missing pay.
The law in Florida says that an employee who is successful in an action for unpaid wages should receive at least their pay amount, associated costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.
An employee who experiences difficulties receiving their final paycheck could also consult with a Florida wage and hour attorney, who can provide detailed advice based on the facts of their specific situation. If the case requires a lawsuit to resolve, an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer could be a powerful ally during negotiations or a trial to help an employee get the money they deserve.