Q&A – Employee Heat Protections & Minimum Wages – Florida's Employment Law 

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Q&A – About Employee Heat Protections & Minimum Wages – Florida's New Employment Law 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.       

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Today’s Entry: Good Morning, Brian. Forever grateful for all your information and analysis. I see some in the media and certain organizations are saying many negative statements about this bill (HB 433) as signed by Governor DeSantis. What's your take on this? 

Thank you and God bless 

Bottom Line: Thank you – and may God bless you as well! The new law in question is Florida’s new Employment Regulations law. The bill was signed into law by Governor Desantis on Friday and takes effect July 1st. To your point the news media’s coverage and response has been commonly critical and often dire in the presentation. Related headlines include:  

  • USA Today: Heat protections for outdoor workers banned in Florida with new law 
  • Florida Politics: Gov. DeSantis strips worker wage, heat protection powers from cities 
  • Orlando Weekly: ‘It’s Unjust’: Florida Gov. DeSantis signs bill banning local heat safety and wage law 

So about now you likely are wondering why it is that Governor DeSantis and the state legislature would want workers to cook in the heat and make less money to do it. Let’s start with what’s actually in the law. The official summary analysis of the change in law is as follows:  

<<The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides workers with minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping, and child labor protections for full and part-time workers in both the public and private sectors. The FLSA allows states to expand the rights of employers and employees. Florida generally follows federal law on overtime pay and occupational health and safety.  

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is the federal labor law governing occupational health and safety in the private sector and federal government. Currently, there are no specific federal or state laws that provide heat exposure protections for outdoor workers.  

Regarding heat exposure protections, the bill prohibits political subdivisions from:   

  • Requiring an employer, including an employer contracting with the political subdivision, to meet or provide heat exposure requirements not otherwise required under state or federal law.  
  • Giving preference, or considering or seeking information, in a competitive solicitation to an employer based on the employer's heat exposure requirements. 

Regarding Florida’s wage and employment benefits law, effective September 30, 2026, the bill prohibits political subdivisions from:  

  • Seeking to control or affect the wages or employment benefits provided by its vendors, contractors, service providers, or other parties doing business with it through its purchasing or contracting procedures.  
  • Using evaluation factors, qualification of bidders, or otherwise awarding preferences on the basis of wages or employment benefits provided by its vendors, contractors, service providers, or other parties doing business with the political subdivision. 

The bill removes the ability of local governments to require a minimum wage for certain employees under the terms of a contract, and provides that the bill’s revisions to Florida’s wage and employment benefits law do not impair any contract entered into before September 30, 2026. The bill prohibits local governments from adopting or enforcing any ordinance, resolution, order, rule, policy, or contract requirement regulating scheduling, including predictive scheduling, by a private employer except as expressly authorized or required by state or federal law, rule, or regulation; or pursuant to federal grant requirements. The bill does not appear to have a fiscal impact on state or local government.>> 

The new law passed along partisan lines and was a priority of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which is to say that business interests were behind its passage. The reason for the timing of this new law is twofold addressing two matters impacted by it. Let’s start with the preemption of local heat ordinances on businesses.  

Last July Miami-Dade advanced a proposal to create a county-wide ordinance creating heat standards for outdoor workers. The ordinance sought to impose, by my count, 33 new mandates on employers with outdoor employees. Among the mandatory requirements of the proposed county ordinance are:  

  • Mandatory “Access to Shaded Recovery Periods” anytime the heat index was to reach 90 or higher 
  • Access to a “sufficient quantity” of drinking water at all times provided free of charge to the employee 
  • Employers must implement pre-shift meetings to discuss drinking plenty of water and to remind employers of the “shaded recovery periods” 
  • Employers must remind employees to drink water at least every two hours 

There’s obviously much more to it, including a whole host of protocols that must go into effect if there’s any indication of a potential medical issue with an employee. I’ll address this both as a former business owner with dozens of employees and as an analyst. First and foremost, it obviously doesn’t serve the employer of an employee who is harmed by unsafe work conditions, any more than it serves the employee. That’s not to say that some employers aren’t more responsible than others in their care of employees, however, obviously no company’s interest is served by a worker who can’t work due to health issues associated with work conditions. The idea is that there should be a balance in these matters where minimum safety standards are ensured for employees, while potentially onerous restrictions on employers should be avoided. It’s clear within just the few proposed mandates I highlighted that what Miami-Dade has been attempting to do is onerous.  

For employers to have provide mandatory paid time for workers to have “shaded recovery periods” anytime the heat index reaches 90, not even the temperature, but the subjective heat index, is an absurd requirement for employers to have to keep up with that would only add expense to projects and set companies up for liability – which is a theme. What, for example is a “sufficient” amount of water that’s supposed to always be available for free? Pre-shift meeting to discuss drinking water and shade? That’s all additional expense. Likewise for supervisors to have to conduct two-hour rotations to remind employees about drinking water.  

This kind of stuff plays well in the news because it sounds like the local government is attempting to care for vulnerable employees. In reality these are a series of mandates adding employer cost to perform work which would negatively impact the cost for Floridians to have work performed, adding to inflation, and mandatory but subjective standards that could easily setup employers to be sued even when acting in good faith. There is no doubt that if the Miami-Dade proposal were allowed to persist it would drive up costs and lead to fewer jobs being created. Now one could still say that the potential health benefit would be worth it. That’s where balance comes into play. Florida’s workplace health standard is the federal government’s workplace health standard – OSHA. If, what is proposed by Miami-Dade is truly needed as a matter of balance it should be evidenced and enacted at the federal level, so all Americans are protected under that standard and there’s workplace consistency within industries. Florida’s new law prevents local governments from enacting their own subjective standards a la what Miami-Dade was attempting to do. The other piece of the preemption came in the form of mandated minimum wages.  

The law preempts local governments from mandating minimum wages for contractors that are in excess of the state mandated minimum wage. This is one where there is greater room for interpretation in my view. On the one hand, very few people work for minimum wage (only 1.3% most recently). And commonly labor unions will tie automatic compensation increases to the minimum wage into their contracts. Meaning that often the main impetus behind minimum wage increases isn’t for those who earn minimum wage because so few do, but rather union employees at all levels who take advantage of what are really masked public policy decisions. On the other hand, there are vast cost of living differences across the state, and it could be reasonably argued that to the extent minimum wages are validated by the state, they should be able to be adjusted within it accordingly. I’ve reported you can decide.  

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