FEDERAL LAWS THAT PROTECT EMPLOYEES: Why Your Boss Cant Mistreat You

Federal laws that protect employees
Image source: Fit Small Business

Just in case you didn’t know, there are federal labor laws that protect employees in the workplace. These laws make clear the employee’s rights and obligations, making sure to penalize any party that violates the law. These Federal laws, as well as the employee rights in the workplace, are what we’ll be talking about in this article.

Federal  Labor Laws That Protect Employees In The Workplace

There are approximately 180 laws in place to protect workers. These include salary and wage rules, as well as parental leave policies. Some of the most important federal laws that protect American employees in the workplace are listed below:

#1. Minimum Wage

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires all American employees to be paid a fair minimum wage for the work they do. This is one of the federal labor laws that protect employees. Since 2009, all private and public employers have been required to pay their employees $7.25 per hour. Thus, making this the minimum wage.

However, many legislators have pushed to increase this amount over the years. The FLSA also assures that nonexempt employees are reimbursed for overtime labor.

Minors who choose to work are also protected under this law. Children under the age of 16 are only permitted to work in the nonagricultural department for a limited number of hours per week. Furthermore, children under the age of 18 are not permitted to work in hazardous occupations.

#2. Workplace Security

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 reduced workplace hazards in the United States (OSHA). The legislation established specific safety provisions focusing on construction, maritime, and agricultural employment. The statute also included a “General Duty Clause”. This is to ensure that no employer may put their workers in obvious danger in the workplace.

Although it is primarily the responsibility of OSHA to enforce the law, state agencies also play a role in enforcing some provisions. Although these laws protect most employees, those who are self-employed or work on family farms are not covered.

#3. Health Insurance

This is also among the federal labor laws that protect employees in the workplace. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act was passed, making health insurance mandatory for employees in medium and large-sized enterprises.

Employers with 50 or more full-time employees must provide some type of health insurance. This is in line with the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment clause. Otherwise, these groups will face punishment and a penalty cost. Employees are considered “full-time” if they work at a company for 30 hours or more each week.

Employee Rights In The Workplace

Employee rights in the workplace are something we all know about. But then, ask the ordinary worker to enumerate them in detail, and most will be completely confused. This is a chasm that must be bridged if workers are to feel fully empowered and self-assured in the workplace. So, no matter the sector you work in, let’s go through some of the most fundamental rights you have in the workplace as an employee:

#1. The Right to a Safe and Healthy Environment

This is one of the employee rights in the workplace. The right to bodily safety is the most obvious and straightforward of all employee rights. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in charge of any infractions involving disease and injury. These include being exposed to poisonous substances or being cut by a blade on the job. Unfortunately, nearly 4,000 people died on the job in 2014, demonstrating the importance of OSHA.

#2. The right to equal treatment

Federal labor laws are rarely covered in the media. However, several discrimination cases have made local and national headlines in recent years. Thus, inspiring a fresh interest in social justice across the country. In 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received nearly 100,000 complaints. Con Edison paid out 3.8 million dollars in 2015 to female employees who complained about continuing sexual harassment, being held to higher evaluation standards than male workers, and being refused training chances, among other things.

Cases of discrimination may be based on race, gender, handicap, religion, sexual orientation, or age. In fact, it can be based on any characteristic that prevents an employee or job seeker from obtaining the same rights and benefits as others in their position. Aside from monetary penalties, firms who are found guilty are often forced to implement in-house training programs and adjust their current policies to be more equitable and inclusive.

#3. The right to reasonable working hours and fair pay

There’s this concept of “workaholism,” which is often measured by the number of hours worked per week. It is a recurring issue among American workers. According to one research, “in the United States, 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week,” putting the country ahead of Australia, Sweden, and Switzerland. And, while working more than 40 hours per week was not uncommon throughout US history, many wonder why we have not yet evolved to a more realistic work-life balance.

We know that in many circumstances, overtime is performed voluntarily. However, the common argument is that workers have little choice but to work enormous overtime hours in order to make ends meet. This brings us to the contentious issue of salaries. This has prompted many workers to oppose both legislators and their employers in recent years.

#4. The Right to Report Issues, also known as Whistleblower Protection

One of the main reasons workplace infractions persist is that all employees are afraid of “ratting out” their employer. They may be afraid of significant consequences, such as being fired or demoted, as well as little ones, such as being given fewer hours or being hated by their employers or coworkers. These are valid concerns. However, no one is legally required to work in hazardous situations. Fortunately, whistleblower laws address this complex matter, protecting employees who fear punishment from their employers. There are cases where an employee decides to report a corporation for violating a law and the employer retaliates. This can also be reported within a certain limit.

How Does The Government Protect Workers

It is worth noting that many of the policies to protect critical workers or comparable laws, might be adopted by state and municipal governments.

#1. Safety requirements

Due to poor safety regulations and a severe scarcity of personal protective equipment, essential workers are facing a health and safety catastrophe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was working under the previous administration to produce an infectious disease workplace standard that would have prepared workers for this type of pandemic. However, the Trump administration discontinued that work. Despite its congressionally mandated commitment to protect employees from “grave risk,” the federal agency in charge of worker health and safety is now advising workers that there is nothing it can do.

To address this issue, OSHA must develop an emergency standard to protect front-line workers against airborne infectious diseases, just as it does for bloodborne illnesses.

#2. Additional remuneration

When critical workers do their duties, they take the danger of being ill with COVID-19. Thus, they can expose their families to the risk of contacting the infection. Even if workers are given sufficient safety precautions, they are still incurring a risk. These risks should be appropriately compensated.

Essential workers should be paid at least the prevailing wage rate required of government contractors, or $15 per hour, whichever is more. If the worker is classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee, the additional costs they must endure should be compensated for. Finally, in addition to these minimums, essential workers should be compensated for hazard pay. Senate Democrats have suggested a $25,000 increase in hazard pay for key workers.

#3. Paid parental and medical leave

Essential workers jeopardize their own and their families’ health and well-being. Still, they are not routinely guaranteed access to any sort of paid leave. The emergency paid leave provisions included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act exclude up to 96 million workers, and many essential workers are explicitly exempted from coverage.

#4. Access to cheap healthcare services

Although the Affordable Care Act significantly increased healthcare coverage rates, millions of Americans, including many important workers, continue to lack access to affordable healthcare options. This is particularly in states that have yet to expand their Medicaid programs. Congress must ensure that vital workers have access to free COVID-19 testing and treatment. But that is only the first step. Finally, all Americans, including critical workers, require a plan to ensure universal health coverage. However, as a first step in addressing this problem, Congress must ensure that important workers have access to free COVID-19 testing and treatment. To ensure that testing and treatment are available regardless of immigration status, Congress should affirm that treatment for COVID-19 or a comparable disorder qualifies as “emergency therapy” under 42 U.S.C. 1396b (v).

#5. Dependable child care

Access to child care is critical for millions of important workers, especially front-line health workers. There is an urgent demand for emergency child care to accommodate the children of these vital workers. This is following the immediate close-down of schools and child care centers across the country to comply with social distancing requirements. Child care programs that are stepping up to provide emergency child care face the difficulty of keeping the children in their care safe and healthy, as well as avoiding the risks of infection, in accordance with CDC guidelines, while also maintaining the financial stability of their programs.

With early childhood educators earning less than $12 per hour on average, this pandemic has emphasized the importance of this underpaid profession as the backbone of the American economy, as well as the crucial role it is currently serving to assist front-line essential workers. Congress must ensure that funding is available to support educators who provide this care, both directly to cover the higher expenses of operating at this time and by providing hazard pay and full benefits to educators who put themselves in danger every day by leaving their homes to do their duties.

#6. Strict adherence to workplace standards

Unfortunately, simply having legal safety standards or other protections in place does not guarantee that workers will benefit from them. Indeed, data revealed that infractions of legal workplace rules were widespread long before the current crisis. Because there will be few, if any, government inspectors during the pandemic, violations may even grow.

To help effectively enforce workplace standards for essential workers, essential workers should be permitted to take action on their own, or even on behalf of the government, against companies that violate their rights. And when courts rule in their favor, they should receive back pay, damages, attorneys’ fees, and injunctive relief. Grants should be made available to community and labor organizations that have access to workers and can assist in reporting infractions. Finally, a board should be established to give further monitoring of enterprises that receive government assistance. This is similar to the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board established following the Great Recession, but with the explicit objective of focusing on workplace infractions.

#7. Collective bargaining and unions

Essential workers require unions and collective bargaining to negotiate salaries, benefits, and working conditions on a level playing field with their employers. While legislative standards are important for establishing a baseline, collective bargaining can assist raise remuneration and safety protections above the bare minimum. Collective bargaining is also necessary for customizing standards to a certain industry and workplace.

In Conclusion,

Although not as numerous as in other nations, there are some federal labor laws in the United States that protect employees. Legal safeguards attempt to ensure that every worker receives a minimum wage and is protected in the workplace so that the rights of the employee are not infringed on by their employer.

FAQs on Federal Labor Laws That Protect Employees

Which is the most basic employee right in the office?

The most basic of the employee rights is the right to be safe and healthy in the workplace.

Do employees have any rights at all?

All employees have certain essential duties and rights during the course of their job. These fundamental rights are proportional to an employer’s obligation to make the workplace as comfortable and welcoming to employees as feasible.

Why is it important to protect your employees?

A safe and healthy workplace not only protects workers from injury and sickness, but it may also reduce injury and illness expenses, absenteeism and turnover, increase productivity and quality, and boost employee morale. In other words, safety is beneficial to business. Furthermore, safeguarding workers is the moral thing to do.

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