Florida Just Approved a New Law to Increase the Wages and Standards for Fast Food Employees


Florida is one of the states that has just enacted new legislation that will have an impact on the lives of many citizens and visitors, particularly those working in the fast-food business. Beginning January 1, 2024, fast-food workers in Florida will get greater salaries, improved working conditions, and additional employer safeguards.

Higher Minimum Wage

The new law increases the minimum pay for fast-food workers to $20 per hour, beginning April 1, 2024. This is a significant increase over the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which has remained unchanged since 2009.

The new pay will be increased annually depending on inflation, with a maximum rise of 3.5%. The increased salary will help nearly 500,000 fast-food workers in Florida, who account for roughly 6% of the state’s employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly salary for fast-food workers in Florida was $16.21 in 2022, therefore the new law will result in a 23% rise in their earnings.

The higher salary will also benefit the economy by increasing fast-food workers’ purchasing power and consumer expenditure since they often spend the majority of their earnings on necessities. According to Economic Policy Institute research, raising the national minimum wage to $15 per hour would increase low-wage workers’ income by $107 billion and create 1.3 million new employment. A $20 minimum wage in Florida may have a far-reaching impact, setting a new norm for other states to follow.

Better Working Conditions

Another feature of the new law that would enhance the working conditions of fast-food workers is the establishment of a fast-food council, which will be in charge of creating and enforcing industry standards. The council will be made up of members from fast-food workers, employers, customers, and the state government, and it will have the jurisdiction to regulate matters such as health and safety, training, scheduling, and dispute resolution.

The fast-food council will also be able to impose fines and penalties on fast-food employers who breach the law or the council’s guidelines. For example, the council may sanction businesses that fail to offer enough breaks, protective equipment, or sick leave to their employees, or who retaliate against workers who use their rights.

The council may also cancel the licenses of fast-food businesses that consistently or flagrantly breach the law or norms. The fast-food council is meant to enhance working conditions and service quality in the fast-food business by ensuring that fast-food employees are treated fairly and respectfully and that fast-food employers adhere to best practices and the public interest.

Increased Protections for Fast-Food Workers

The new law also gives fast-food workers broader protection from discrimination, harassment, and exploitation by their employers. For example, the legislation forbids fast-food companies from discriminating against employees because of their race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other protected trait.

The legislation also protects fast-food workers against sexual harassment, which is defined as any unwanted sexual approaches, demands for sexual favors, or any sexually motivated verbal or physical conduct that creates a hostile or unpleasant workplace environment.

The legislation also protects fast-food workers against wage theft, which is the criminal practice of withholding or underpaying wages, tips, overtime, or benefits owing to employees. The legislation compels fast-food operators to pay their employees at least once every two weeks and to present them with a written account detailing their hours, salaries, deductions, and tips.

The law also permits fast-food workers to file complaints with the fast-food council or the state labor department if they believe their pay has been stolen, and if they win, they may recover their unpaid wages, plus damages and legal expenses.

Furthermore, the legislation protects fast-food workers from unfair termination, which is defined as discharging a person without a sufficient reason or following due process. The legislation creates a just cause threshold for termination, which implies that fast-food companies can only remove employees for valid job-related reasons, such as poor performance, misbehavior, or economic necessity.

The law also compels fast-food businesses to implement a progressive punishment policy, which means they must offer employees a warning, suspension, or probation term before dismissing them unless they commit a significant infraction. The law also allows fast-food workers to appeal their termination to the fast-food council or the state labor relations board, as well as seek reinstatement, back pay, or other remedies if they can demonstrate that they were fired unjustly.

Final Words

Finally, Florida’s new law for fast-food workers, which goes into effect on January 1, 2024, makes a lot of good changes. To make the lives and working conditions of nearly 500,000 fast-food workers in the state much better, the law raised the minimum wage to $20 an hour, set up a fast-food council to set industry standards, and made it easier for workers to report discrimination, harassment, and exploitation.

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