The St. Petersburg Wage Theft Ordinance: New Notice and Poster Requirements
Monday, June 26, 2017
The City of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently amended its wage theft ordinance to require employers to provide pay notice to employees at the time of hire and to display “in a location accessible to all employees” a poster about wage theft. See St. Pete. Code, Chap. 15, Art. III, Sec. 15-40, et seq. These requirements are not yet in effect. As detailed below, the effective date is on hold pending the completion of a memorandum of understanding by the City, which is engaging a “community-based” organization to “implement the purposes of this article.”
The ordinance defines the term “employee” broadly to mean a “natural person who performs work within the geographic boundaries of the City while being employed by an employer . . .” including “a person who performs work that benefits an employer located within the City even though the employee may have performed work outside of the City.” The ordinance excludes “any bona fide independent contractor,” stating that the term “independent contractor” “shall have the same meaning as in the Internal Revenue Code, Fair Labor Standards Act, and implementing federal regulations, administrative interpretations and guidance” (though “independent contractor” is defined differently by the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Labor).
On December 15, 2016, the St. Petersburg City Council passed several amendments to the City’s wage theft ordinance. Under Sec. 15-44, there are three new requirements for employers. Employers must provide a “written notice” to employees at time of hire, including a “template summary” summarizing the employee’s rights (available from the City), written notice of changes in pay, and a poster (available from the City). Sec. 15-44(a)-(d). There is also a $500.00 “per violation” penalty for an employer’s failure to adhere to any part of the ordinance. Sec. 15-44(e). The term “violation” is not defined.
Sec. 15-44(a)(1)-(7) provides:
(a) At the time of hiring, an employer shall provide to each employee a written notice, to be signed and dated by the employer and employee, containing the following information:
(1) 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;
(2) Allowances, if any, claimed as part of the minimum wage, including meal or lodging allowances;
(3) The regular payday designated by the employer;
(4) The name of the employer, including any “doing business as” names used by the employer;
(5) The physical address of the employer’s main office or principal place of business, and a mailing address, if different;
(6) The employer’s telephone number; and
(7) A template summary, available from the City, summarizing the protections and rights of employees pursuant to this article.
The “template summary” is not available at this time and there is no time frame in which it is to be completed.
Sec. 15-44(c) provides:
In addition to providing the written notice required by subsection (a), employers must place in a location accessible to all employees a poster, available from the City, summarizing the protections and rights of employees pursuant to this article.
Sec. 15-44(d) provides:
An employer shall notify his or her employees in writing of any changes to the information set forth in the notice required by subsection (a) within seven (7) calendar days after the time of the changes.
These requirements, however, did not go into effect when the City passed the amendments. According to the amendments, the requirements of Section 15-44 (the notice and poster provisions) “will not become applicable to employers until ninety (90) days after a community-based organization has been selected for the purpose of facilitating implementation of this ordinance.” Sec. 15-47.
An official with Pinellas County, who is in charge of administering both the St. Petersburg and Pinellas County ordinances, confirmed to Ogletree Deakins that the “community based organization” has not yet been selected and that there is not yet a “template summary” to provide (referenced in Sec. 15-44(a)(7)).
Pinellas County has requested a “memorandum of understanding” from St. Petersburg regarding the notice and posting requirements. The county does not have any comparable notice or poster. Presumably, this may be a precursor to these requirements being enacted countywide.
The official also noted that the delay in implementation may have to do with personnel changes within the City of St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg has now put Pinellas County in charge of administering the ordinance, because Pinellas County has a similar ordinance (although the County ordinance has no notice or posting requirements).
Finally, the official stated that Pinellas County will likely tweak St. Petersburg’s current form and poster before they are finalized. The official also anticipates that the county will adopt similar notice and posting requirements in the future. Pinellas County refused to provide an estimated time for such actions.
St. Petersburg and/or Pinellas County will probably issue a press release before the requirements are finalized.
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Rachel A. Morris
Ms. Morris focuses her practice on representing employers in all aspects of labor and employment litigation and compliance.