Aleksandar Stevanovic spent 10 years honing his craft as a freelance content writer. He has a degree in Economics, and extensive experience in software, crypto,…
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Employment law refers to a specific section of the law that defines and regulates the relationship between employers and their employees. People commonly confuse it with labor law, which regulates relationships between different companies, trade unions, and the government.
What’s important to understand is that the term employment law doesn’t denote a singular law, but rather a collection of employment laws on both the state and the federal level.
The main purpose of employment laws is to protect the employees in the workplace. They define all the characteristics of a working relationship and ensure workplace safety, guarantee a fair hiring process, ban child labor, and provide workers with rights such as medical and parental leave.
Employers that break the law are often fined exorbitant amounts by the regulatory bodies that enforce them, plus they’re liable to get sued for unfair treatment by the worker who suffered consequences from the employer’s misconduct.
That said, employment laws also protect the employers. Employees are contractually obligated to perform their work duties, so employees reserve the right to terminate workers based on poor performance or inappropriate behavior.
Employment laws in the US function on both the federal and the state level. The federal employment laws are the rules and regulations that have passed Congress and have been signed by the president of the United States. Currently, the two federal employment laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In addition to these federal laws, every state has the liberty to pass state-specific laws that further define and regulate the specifics of working relationships within the state, such as minimum wage laws, industry-specific employment (e.g., agriculture), and door-to-door sales.
Employment laws are enforced by a variety of regulatory bodies across the United States, including:
As you can see, there are a ton of different areas that employment laws need to regulate and govern, ranging from protection from unfair treatment to safety in the workplace.
Here are a couple of employment laws that both employers and employees need to be aware of so they have a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities:
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) describes the circumstances in which employees are entitled to take unpaid leave for family or medical reasons. Additionally, under the FMLA, employees retain their group health insurance coverage under the same terms as if they did not take leave.
One thing to note is that the law permits both the employees to choose and the employers to request that the employee in question take accrued paid leave (paid vacation, sick, or family leave) for a part of the full duration of the FMLA leave.
Essentially, FMLA provides workers with a 12-week unpaid leave per year in the event of:
The federal minimum wage in the United States is defined under The Fair Labor Standards Act and currently sits at $7.25/hour as of July 24, 2009. The minimum wage for workers who receive tips is $2.13/hour, provided that their wage plus the tips reach $7.25/hour (otherwise, the employer must cover the difference).
What this means is that it’s illegal for employers to pay their workers less than $7.25/hour. This serves as a safeguard against exploitation and underpaid labor.
One thing to note is that states are still free to individually state their own minimum wages. If they differ from the federal minimum, the higher wage rate will apply. Put simply, certain states can (and 30 of them plus Washington D.C. do) enforce higher minimum wages as a result of the living standards in said states.
Overtime is defined and regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The act states that all nonexempt employees must receive compensation for hours worked over the standard 40 hours per week.
It also defines the rate as “time and a half,” which simply means that overtime pay must be equal to 150% of their hourly rate. So, if someone was making $10 per hour, their overtime rate must not be lower than $15 per hour.
There is no limit under FLSA regarding the amount of hours someone can work overtime. Additionally, work done on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays doesn’t automatically qualify as overtime work unless the person works more than 8 hours. For these instances, employers are free to offer regular hourly rates.
In addition to these examples, there are key terms you need to know in order to understand conversations, debates, and articles related to employment laws. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of those terms (the list isn’t comprehensive):
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Aleksandar Stevanovic spent 10 years honing his craft as a freelance content writer. He has a degree in Economics, and extensive experience in software, crypto, and cybersecurity industries. He covers a multitude of topics, writing factual and informative articles, helping individuals better understand the intricacies of the online world. Over the last two years, his research focus shifted more towards tech and software content, as evidenced by his publications on CEX.IO, Business2Community, and Techopedia. He believes in simplifying complex topics and bringing them closer to like-minded individuals. His work is as detail-oriented as it is creative, and is designed to…
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