Florida state senator files bill to allow employers to offer sub-minimum ‘training wage’

The proposal would allow employers to offer training wage to workers for first six months of employment

(AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.State Senator Jeff Brandes is looking to make a change to Florida’s minimum wage laws that would allow employers to offer a “training wage” which would be below the state’s current minimum wage.

Brandes, a Republican from Pinellas County, filed Senate Joint Resolution 382, which would amend the state’s constitution — specifically, Section 24 of Article X, the section establishing the state’s minimum wage.

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SJR 382, which could be considered during the 2022 legislative session, calls for the state legislature to establish a “Minimum Training Wage rate less than the Minimum Wage rate.”

Under the proposal, employers would be able to offer the training wage to any employee for the first six months of their employment.

SJR 382 does not specify what the training wage would be but gives a look at how it would be calculated.

“The Minimum Training Wage rate must be based on a federal temporary training wage rate, if any, or on the findings of a study commissioned every three years by the state legislature to determine a sufficient Minimum Training Wage rate,” the proposed amendment reads.

Read the full text of SJR 382 below:

SJR 382 by Thomas Mates on Scribd

Because this is a constitutional amendment, the legislature would have to vote on the proposal which would then go onto the ballot where 60% of Florida voters would have to be in favor of the measure for it to take effect.

Brandes made a similar attempt in the 2021 legislative session where he proposed a “reduced minimum wage rate” for prisoners in the state correctional system, workers convicted of a felony, workers under 21 and other “hard-to-hire” employees.

The senator’s attempts at offering a pay rate below the minimum wage come after Floridians passed Amendment 2 in the 2020 election, which raised the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour in September, then raises it a dollar more each year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026.

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According to estimates from the Florida Pay Institute — which calls itself “an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization dedicated to advancing policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians” — 2.5 million workers in Florida will benefit from the $15 per hour minimum wage.

On the Florida Foodie podcast, Fight for $15 advocate Christian Cardona said that even the $15 per hour minimum may still not be enough for workers.

“The thing about the Fight for $15 is that it started almost 10 years ago, back in 2012. Work workers were asking for $15 (per hour) then and it has been a long time since then and we still don’t have it,” Cardona said. “Back in 2012, $15 (per hour) might have been enough then — it’s probably not enough now and in five years (when Florida’s minimum wage reaches $15 per hour), it will be even less so.”

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.