The labor laws are enforced with the primary motive of employee welfare. They are dedicated to safeguarding the interests and employee welfare and protecting them against unwarranted treatment by their employers. The laws provide several provisions for the welfare of the employees in the form of minimum wages, overtime payment, paid leave, health insurance and many other things.
Besides all these things, the laws protect employees against discrimination on the grounds of race, age, gender and origin. They also ensure safe working conditions and protect workers from health issues arising out of hazardous work conditions. The labor laws also provide for grievance redressing systems for employees to place their work related complaints.
Provisions for upholding employee interest
The laws in the country clearly states that the employer cannot discriminate the employees on the basis of race, religion, gender, pregnancy, age, citizenship status, etc. Every employee has to be treated in a common way.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) under Equal Pay Act prevents employers from paying different wages to persons of different genders for doing the same job under identical skills, efforts, responsibilities and work conditions.
The Federal laws fixes the minimum wage at $7.25 per hour to every employee working. The work hours for a work week is standardized at 40 hours and any work over this is termed as over work and it should be compensated by the employer at a rate 1.5 times the regular rate. State laws also provide minimum wage rate. In such cases, the employer must pay the higher rate of wage.
Simply put, $7.25 per hour is the minimum wage rate in the United States for a person above 20 years of age. The law also states clearly the definition and scope of work hours and does not leave any trace of doubt on what can be and what can not be included in work hours.
People below 20 years of age are eligible for a minimum wage of $4.25 per hour for first 90 days of employment. Polygraph test can not be carried out on a job applicant or employee except for some typical situations and employers under Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA).
When it comes to child labor, children below 12 years are strictly prohibited to work. Minors above this age group can be employed subjected to certain restrictions. This is to safeguard their right to education and protect them from hazardous nature of work.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures safety of personnel and health of the employees by providing several measures and guidelines to be adopted at work place to ensure that accidents do not take place at work place and health issues do not arise as the result of nature of work. Employer is required to take these measures and guidelines very seriously and ensure their enforcement.
Employees in an organization covered under the law can form unions to bargain the terms and conditions for welfare of employees and put forward their concerns before their employer. However, restrictions are there in their operation providing a code of conduct for the unions.
Awareness saves from exploitation
Though it is the employer’s duty to communicate the laws to the employees, it is the responsibility of the employees to stay aware of their rights as an employee. This can save them from any probable discrimination by their employer. They should ask their employers to display posters if any of them is missing and they should stand collectively for their rights. Almost every law provides systems for grievance addressing and complaint can be made to the agencies if the employer denies to comply with the labor laws.