Labor Law Information for Employees

The U.S. Department of Labor oversees activities that occur in a workplace to ensure that employers follow every labor law completely. Laws also serve to protect employer interests. Various regulations pertain to wages paid, hours worked, workplace safety, workers’ compensation, employee benefits, unions, and membership, rights, wage garnishment, employee leave, severance and layoffs. Because labor law includes so many different areas, employers, and employees may find it confusing to follow guidelines and requirements. However, ignorance does not excuse noncompliance. It is thus vital that everyone learns about these legal requirements upon entering the workforce.

The federal government oversees employment and labor law. States also have separate regulations that govern employment and labor practices. Employers have a responsibility to comply with both federal and state regulations.

Over 100 years ago, employers routinely enforced oppressive rules for jobholders, which resulted in unfair practices. The government interceded on behalf of staff members to ensure that mistreatment would not occur. The initial employment regulations governed minimum wages, child labor, and compensation for injured employees. The government also instituted a standardized workweek. Additional provisions were eventually added to protect workers from discrimination and unsafe workplace conditions. Some of the newest guidelines pertain to equal pay for both women and jobholder healthcare benefits.

The current labor law does not dictate the maximum number of hours a jobholder can work in a week. However, regulations state that any work time over 40 hours in one week will earn payment at a rate of one and a half times the jobholder’s standard pay rate. Employment guidelines also regulate work time for employees under the age of 18 carefully. These staff members have special regulations about the number of hours they can work each week and each shift. Minor workers also have work provisions when employed in the agricultural industry.

Labor law presumes that employers and employees choose to work together by choice. Consequently, either party can end the working relationship for any reason and at any time. Employers, however, are not free to terminate a worker using discriminatory reasons as the basis for the termination. Regulations also prohibit businesses from terminating workers who file workers’ compensation claims or if the employee reports the company for violations.

Business owners might use materials provided by federal and state governments to ensure that business policies such as benefits, safety, wages, and nondiscrimination comply with federal and state regulations. This will ensure that internal rules of conduct for workers are lawful and fair.

An employment contract between parties can show promises made by either party, as well as provisions for ending the employment relationship. An employment contract can govern the length of an employment term, specific compensation paid to the staff member, allowable disciplinary measures and reasons a worker could be terminated. If an employee and employer disagree about terms of a contract, either party may instigate litigation to resolve the issue. The court case would require a court to interpret the contract and determine the responsibilities of each party. Some attorneys specialize in employment law to represent either party.

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