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Labor Laws

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Labor Laws

Labor laws are in place to protect employee rights. Different laws have been developed over time to protect people from health hazards and exploitation. In many situations, companies will seek to terminate people who need time off to recover from illness or to care for a loved one. Labor laws are in place to prevent these unethical practices. During a personal emergency, people can expect some job security. Labor laws exist on the federal, state, and local government level to protect people from unethical practices and preventable harm.

Federal labor laws are enacted by the national government and are uniform throughout the country. For example, The Family and Medical Leave Act is in place to guarantee employees a minimum of 12 unpaid weeks of leave for medical and family needs. The federal government also imposes a minimum wage to ensure a basic standard of income. Federal law also regulates child labor. To work, children must be a minimum age and can only work a certain number of hours per week. These laws are designed to keep children in school with the objectives of graduating high school and attending college.

State governments impose additional requirements for child labor and minimum wages. States agencies also provide unemployment benefits to employees who have been terminated from their position. To receive unemployment benefits, a person must be ready and willing to work. People may quality for unemployment benefits if they are laid off, terminated without cause, or dropped to a part time basis. States also implement programs to educate employees about their rights regarding salary, working hours, and job-related injuries. In California for example, businesses are required to display a labor law posters that outline both state and federal requirements. A business can be fined if they do not display these laws. There are many services that produce and distribute necessary posters for businesses to display.

State and federal governments enforce standards for overtime and hiring practices. Certain employees are guaranteed extra earnings when they work beyond a 40 hour work week, and other employees are guaranteed additional time off. Under the Civil Rights Act, it is illegal to discriminate against job applicants by race, disability, or gender. Safeguards are also in place to prevent age discrimination against people over the age of 40. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) makes it possible for employees and their families to continue with their employer's health benefits after they have.

Many attorneys specialize in employment or labor law. If you feel that you have been wronged or mistreated, you may seek professional services from a lawyer who can help you receive compensation to which you are entitled. Lawsuits ensure that businesses will comply with labor laws. In any case, to work with a lawyer, you should have at least a basic understanding of your rights. If you are confused about your rights, a lawyer might be able to listen to your situation and provide advice.

Labor laws have revolutionized the working world. People who suffered a job-related injury were responsible for their own medical bills. If a mother needed to leave to give birth, she could expect to lose her job. Now, people are guaranteed some level of protection.

The following describe general areas where labor laws are instituted and enforced. These categories are broad, but not necessarily comprehensive.

  • Workers' Compensation: Workers' compensation ensures that people receive benefits when they suffer a job-related injury. Employers are required to purchase workers' compensation insurance plans to pay an employee's lost wages and relevant medical expenses. The federal government offers its own workers' compensation program to federal employees. Each state is responsible for administrating workers' compensation for state employees.
  • Maternity Leave: The Family and Medical Leave Act was enacted in 1993 by the United States Department of Labor. Legislation states that an employee may have a minimum of 12 unpaid weeks of leave time per year for medical or family reasons. Pregnant women can use this leave to give birth and care for their newborn. Fathers can also take a leave under this act. Parents can take leave to take care of a seriously ill child, when adopting a child, and taking in a foster child.
  • Minimum Wage: The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that all companies, with very few exceptions, must pay a minimum wage to employees. States can set additional minimum wage requirements. As a result, minimum wage can vary greatly from state to state to adjust for costs of living.
  • OSHA: OSHA stands for the Occupation Safety and Health Administration. This agency is a part of the United States Department of Labor and serves to enact laws that protect the health and safety of employees in the workplace. They have strict standards for safety in equipment usage, personal protective equipment, safe working conditions, ergonomics, and construction site safety in all industries. Penalties for noncompliance include fines, suspension of business permits, and revocation of business licenses.
Last Updated: December 19, 2011
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