Florida Statute Preempts Local Wage and Benefit Laws


Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law H.B. 655 (linked below), which preempts laws enacted by counties, cities and other local governmental units that require employers to pay wages and provide employee benefits more favorable than those required under federal and state laws. The measure thus preempts local laws affecting: minimum wage; health benefits; disability benefits; death benefits; group accidental death and dismemberment benefits; paid or unpaid days off for holidays, sick leave, vacation, and personal necessity; retirement benefits; and profit-sharing benefits.

Some local laws are carved out and thus survive. These include laws requiring in certain cases time off for domestic violence victims (Miami-Dade County has such an ordinance). In addition, the new law does not affect employment laws enacted by federally recognized tribal governments.

Most importantly, in most situations, Miami-Dade County’s and Broward County’s living wage ordinances will survive. The new law preserves local minimum wage laws for employees of political subdivisions, and for employers who contract with political subdivisions for goods and services (along with subcontractors of such employers where the contract requires that subcontractors pay the local minimum wage).

There is one potentially big change for Miami-Dade County’s living wage law. Miami-Dade County’s living wage law, like many such ordinances, applies to County employees and county contractors. The law also applies to employers providing services under aeronautical services permits issued by the Miami-Dade Airport. Thus, aviation service providers must pay a living wage to airport workers. These covered airport workers include wheelchair assistants, baggage handlers, fuelers, in-flight caterers, among others. (Skycaps that receive tips are exempt under Miami-Dade County’s living wage ordinance and typically are not paid the living wage.) With some exceptions, aviation support services are not provided under contracts or subcontracts with the county; the services are provided under contracts with the airlines. These workers’ pay does not come from county funds. But for the requirement that permit holders pay their employees the living wage for services provided pursuant to the permit, the living wage ordinance would be inapplicable. But the carve out in H.B. 655 does not reach services provided under aeronautical service permits. An argument can be made that these aviation services providers will no longer be required to pay their workers the living wage.

This law is good for employers because it provides clarity and uniformity. The local laws were often obscure, making it difficult for employers with facilities in different localities to comply.

The measure takes effect on July 1, 2013.

Related Posts