The federal government has workplace regulations for employees that cover the rights and obligations within their employer relationship. Whether potential candidates, current employees or past employees, situations may arise that requires equitable outcomes.
Everyone will agree that the employer-employee relationship carries a variety of complex issues that can arise at any given moment. The law stands as a reminder of how those issues should be resolved. Diverse issues such as:
- wrongful termination;
- hiring practices;
- wages; and,
- workplace safety
are governed by both federal and state laws to dictate rights and duties of both sides. Many employers are unaware of rules and regulations until a problem occurs. Employees may take legal action when they believe they were treated unfairly.
To avoid that type of financial hit, and to promote a positive company image, employers should ensure they are up-to-date with regulations.
Promoting Fairness in the Workplace
Basic rights in the workplace exists for all employees. These include the right to privacy, freedom from discrimination and fair compensation. So, it should come as no surprise when some employees choose to question the actions of their employers.
Additionally, potential candidates also have rights that a potential employer must honor. Employers should not discriminate against applicants because they are a certain gender, race, age or have different religious expressions.
The hiring process should be based solely on whether job applicants’ skills and abilities match the open position. One example is asking a potential candidate, questions related to their family during the hiring process is not permitted.
Protection against claims of bias can come through employers adopting a system that keeps the hiring process honest and fair. Tracking job applicants through each phase can help HR and hiring manager on the same page when reviewing resumes.
The Department of Labor administers and enforces over 180 federal workplace regulations for employees. Therefore, employers need a system in place to ensure their employment practices do not violate these mandates.
Comparing applicants can aid with narrowing the selection of equally qualified candidates. As long as the reasoning is justified based on the needs of the position – and done for every candidate – employers may keep themselves out of court.
Wage and Hour Regulations
Principles for what is considered fair wage and overtime pay is monitored by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Both private and public employment is affected by these regulations.
In essence, employers are required to pay nonexempt employees at least the federal minimum wage. Generally, employees work 35-40 full-time hours each week.
The law requires that they receive an additional one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay for every hour above the full-time hours.
The Wage and Labor Division of the DOL administers this wage law. The agency also enforces the Immigration and Nationality Act, which sets the standards for aliens who are authorized to work in the country through various nonimmigrant visa programs.
Health and Safety in the Workplace
Many will agree that a healthy and safe workplace is essential to running a profitable business. A catastrophic injury from an avoidable accident could lead to a business closing its doors. If some employers frown at the obligations required by some regulations, this is probably not one.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration administers workplace regulations for employees that protects them on the job. Private and public sector employees are covered.
Some things employers can do to stay compliant include:
- Inform employees of their rights and responsibilities
- Post the OSHA poster in a prominent area of the workplace
- Keep the work environment up-to-date with standards and rules of the OSH Act
- Eliminate serious and recognizable hazards
- Provide proper tools and training that promotes safety habits
- Warn employees of potential hazards with labels, color codes, signs and other visual features
Workers’ compensation is somewhat related to keeping a safe work environment; if an employee is injured on the job, he or she have a right to file a workers’ comp claim. Typically, this program is administered by state agencies.
Nevertheless, employers have rules to follow. They should also make sure that their attendance tracking system includes features that allow accurate reporting.
The disposition of the claim, including how an employee gets paid after filing this type of claim, is something employers must track for government reporting purposes.
Job-Protected Family and Medical Leave
Employers with 50 or more employees must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees. This too requires a tracking mechanism to ensure compliance is maintained and employees’ rights are not violated.
Reasons for the unpaid, job-protected leave usually involves
- Serious illness
Generally speaking, whether an employer is subject to these employment laws depends on the number of employees who work for the employer.
While there is a vast number of regulations designed to protect employees, it only takes one incident with one employee that could cost millions. Therefore, it is in every employers’ best interest to understand their legal responsibility and liability.