Florida’s Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was designed as part of the welfare reform movement of the ’90s. Like its federal counterpart, the Florida WIA provides incentives and assistance to employers who hire those who've been long-term welfare recipients.

Florida’s WIA includes the state’s 1998 Untried Worker Placement and Employment Incentive Act, which also provides incentives for Florida employers to hire difficult-to-place workers. Since many of them suffer from mental or physical disabilities, the ADA may protect them as well.

Under the WIA, employers may receive incentive payments from the state’s regional work force boards for workers who maintain full-time employment for six months. Employees hired under the program may be subject to a maximum probationary period of six months.

To locate your regional work force board, go to www.workforceflorida.com/wages/wfi/boards/index.htm.

The law requires employers to provide workers’ comp and unemployment compensation coverage for those workers. But oftentimes, employers can offset those costs by using federal tax credits and subsidies. (Receiving state WIA incentive funds doesn’t affect employers’ federal tax incentives.)

Employers may not displace other employees to hire WIA workers. Once the workers complete one year of employment, employers receive no more incentives or subsidies. To keep their standing in the program, employers must maintain a good record of employing and developing hard-to-place workers or otherwise risk being disqualified from the program.

The regional work force boards partner with the state’s Agency for Workforce Innovation (www.floridajobs.org/PDG/wia.html) to administer the law.

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Excerpted from Florida’s 9 Most Critical Employment Laws, a special bonus report available to subscribers of HR Specialist: Florida Employment Law.

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