Employees of Florida's unemployment agency are returning to office

click to enlarge Screenshot via Google MapsEmployees of Florida’s jobs agency who have been working at home will soon have to be back in the office, but there is no word on when other departments will follow suit or when state buildings will fully reopen to the public.A week after Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted COVID-19 business restrictions, Department of Economic Opportunity employees who have been able to work remotely during the pandemic have been told they will need to transition back into the office, starting Monday.Louise Mondragon, chief of human resource management for the department, outlined in a memo Thursday the return to “full-time office hours.”Employees who are in what is known as the senior management service class are expected to return Monday, with other employees shifting back to the office on Oct. "Employees should discuss their individual circumstances with their direct supervisors," Mondragon said in the memo.The department, whose numerous duties include overseeing the unemployment system, is an executive agency under the governor’s office.Fred Piccolo, a spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis, said such directions about bringing workers back to offices are up to individual agencies, when asked about plans to reopen state government buildings.“There is no directive coming from the governor’s office, but each agency is making plans to return to work based on the movement to Phase III,” Piccolo said in an email. “It will be revisited again at that time.”Also, no immediate changes have been announced for people working at home for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which is under Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat.“Our department has received no guidance on office reopenings, and our employees and offices will continue to follow our cautious, science-based plan for reopening as local conditions allow,” Franco Ripple, a spokesman for Fried, said in an email.Similarly, no changes are planned in the Attorney General’s Office, where spokeswoman Lauren Cassedy noted that on a volunteer basis 25 percent of employees currently can work in the office.“We will not be reopening any offices to the public until (the Department of Management Services) indicates that state buildings are reopening to the public,” Cassedy said in an email.Representatives of the Department of Management Services, which oversees state buildings, did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Friday.

Under Floridas new minimum wage, what will you do with your extra $200 before tax?

click to enlarge Photo via Adobe StockDont spend it all in one place, folks.According to the states Department of Economic Opportunity minimum wage in Florida is about to jump from $8.46 to $8.56 an hour on Jan. 1. The new wages will also include a minimum wage of at least $5.54 an hour for tipped employees.Of course, all of this is absolutely meaningless for Floridas increasing population of working poor, which means despite having a job, you are unable to pay your bills, afford healthcare or other basic necessities, and are essentially just one accident away from sliding into near irreversible poverty.Sure, any pay increase is good, and the new wage is better than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, but this extra dime doesnt get anyone remotely close to an actual living wage.For some perspective, this bump means that the average minimum wage earner in Florida, who works 40 hours per week and 50 weeks per year, will now get an extra $200 before taxes. In other words, theyll earn $17,120 a year instead of $16,920.Either way, this is far below 2019s federal poverty level of $25,750 The only shred of hope in all of this is that Florida voters will be able to fix this embarrassing problem in November, as the proposal to gradually raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour will finally be on the ballot A 2017 report from United Way found that 3.3 million households across Florida, which is almost half of Floridas families, are classified as working poor.A report in June said Orlando area minimum wage earners have to work 85 hours a week to afford cheapest apartments. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced in October that full- and part-time city employees would begin receiving a $15 minimum wage, the Sentinel reported.Nearby, Tampa has made some worthy strides in this regard. Last August, Tampa mayor Jane Castor announced that all city employees will earn a starting salary of $15 an hour.Now let's just do everyone else.