Once you reach working age, you will spend over a third of your life working towards your career and making money for you and your family. But considering we spend this much time in work, shouldn’t we all learn what our rights are as employees? It is surprising how many of us go through working life without knowing what our rights are and what laws are there to protect us as we work. If you are unsure what there is out there to protect you, then take a look at this list.
- The Minimum Wage
The minimum wage is a limit set by the government as the minimum hourly rate companies are allowed to pay an employee legally. The Fair Labor Standards Act has ensured that pretty much all public and private companies in the country stick to a wage of $7.25 at the minimum. The rate will change depending on inflation and is a way to make sure that employees are paid fairly and can live off the money they earn. It also offers protection for children as it states that no child under the age of 16 should be working over a certain number of hours per week. Even under 18’s are not allowed to work in high risk jobs where there are forklift trucks or machinery driving around site.
2. Workplace Safety
Safety at work is something which is a core part of being successful and keeping employees happy in their jobs. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created many different safety procedures and guidelines for what was and wasn’t acceptable conduct in the workplace. It makes sure that all employees undergo training if they will be doing heavy lifting or manual labour, and that if anything ever goes wrong and an employee has an accident at work, they have the right to a workers compensation lawyer to claim back compensation for their trouble.
The law is enforced by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and covers most public and privately owned businesses, apart from those who are self employed.
- Health Coverage
It is part of the law that any company which employees over 50 employees must provide each one with a minimal level of health insurance. It means that employees will have to help you cover the costs of medical bills in certain cases. Some employers offer extra health benefits for their employees too, such as eye care and dental care.
4. Social Security
The social security act is one which provides disabled and elderly people a little bit of a safety net with their finances. It means that those who are retired or disabled will have checks carried out every month to assess their situation and provide benefits if it is needed.
The benefits which are paid out through the social security act is funded by taxes. Employees all over the country have a responsibility to make sure that the taxes are paid so they can be used to help those in need.
5. Unemployment Benefits
For someone who is unemployed to qualify for benefits, they have to meet certain criteria. They must have been made unemployed by a reason beyond their power like being fired or made redundant, and they have to have a household income of a certain amount. The specific values will change from state to state, but the principles are the same. Payments will only be available for a maximum of 26 weeks, after that the person will need to find work to make money.
This means that if you ever do end up out of work for a reason beyond your control, the state will support you while you look for a new job and get back on your feet.
6. Whistleblower Protections
This is a law which will protect you if you ever report your employer for misconduct or for another reason. The protections will ensure that you are not identified as the one who reported your employer, and it can be a huge help to you and the authorities. Sometimes an employer may be fudging the books, or committing a violation to the environment such as not recycling their rubbish and using harsh fuels for their work. It is important that you pluck up the courage to say something if you notice your employer behaving badly, because it is affecting you, your colleagues and the planet. You’ll be able to ensure that they have to pay a fee or change the way they work without risking your job by being the one who told.
7. Family Leave
Family is the most important part of life, and President Bill Clinton agreed with this. In 1993 he signed an act called the Family and Medical Leave Act which guaranteed that all employees were entitled to 12 weeks per years of family leave if they had a child or a family member became seriously ill. Although the time off is unpaid, it will ensure that you do not lose your job when you are ready to come back. Showing the importance of life and family is one of the most significant things the USA has done to make their employees lives move more smoothly. To benefit from this service, you will need to have been working for a company for 12 months first.
8. Employment-Based Discrimination
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 paved the way for some big changes in life and work throughout the United States Of America. However perhaps the most crucial to employees was that of the discrimination act. It states that is is illegal for any company to refuse an employee due to their gender, race, age or nationality. It means that everyone has an equal chance of getting a job, and it is the experience, skills and personality of the employee which will set them apart from the rest. The act also prevents there being any wage discrimination between gender and race. There has always been a large pay gap between men and women working in the same role, but this gap is closing now as everyone is being seen as an equal at last.