As a business owner, it is crucial that you understand all the rights and obligations that you have in any relationship with your employees. Employment laws apply to currently enlisted employees, in addition to anyone currently in the hiring process and those you have worked with in the past.
Here, we’ll look at the different employee rights you should guarantee, the risks of not doing so, and tips to help you better manage those rights.
The right to a safe and healthy workplace
There is no clear and easy-to-understand employee right like the right to be physically safe in the workplace. That Occupational Safety and Health Administration describes all the rights to a healthy and safe workplace that each employee should expect, in addition to the different ways that employers can do to guarantee these rights.
For example, all employees have the right to a healthy and safe workplace that won’t cause them injury or sickness in the line of duty, provided they follow safety guidelines and training. However, this also means that they must receive clear safety training on the different hazards in the workplace and how to avoid them.
Employees even have the right to document and report any breach of safety in the workplace and any try to stop it is going to be considered a form of illegal retaliation. As an employer, you should minimize and eliminate safety hazards where possible, or provide protection so employees can get through as safely as possible. You should also keep a record of workplace injuries.
Physical threats are also not a safe place to work. Employees have the right to be safe from workplace harassment, as well. Concerns around harassment are often linked to the right to be free from discrimination, but not necessarily the same. Harassment can be physical, can involve using differences in power in the workplace to take advantage, can be sexual, can be psychological. Having a system in place for people to report harassment with the help of an HR specialist can make sure that you are legally protected. You cannot stop every kind of harassment from occurring, but you can ensure that there’s a process in place to identify and act on it as soon as possible.
The right to avoid discrimination
All employees have the right to be treated equally, irrespective of protected status. Effectively, it’s a protection against discrimination. There are numerous aspects of a person’s character that are considered part of the protected class. This means that employers may not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, gender or religion.
Most business owners intrinsically know that discrimination is wrong and illegal. However, many of them don’t fully understand the scope what counts as discrimination, or may not have taken enough action to notice and stop them in their business. Discrimination can affect every kind of parts of workplace life. Discrimination can include refusal to hire, how people are disciplined or fired, how much access they get to training, harassment, salary and promotion opportunities. Employers are responsible for discrimination that occurs in business even if they aren’t personally involved in the discrimination.
Sexuality is also a common concern in terms of discrimination in the workplace. LGBTQ employee rights has been given more attention recently, as people understand more and more how often people are targeted based on their sexuality and gender expression. However, the Supreme Court’s decision on Bostock v. Clayton County has provided serious protections to people under Title VII. This protection applies to persons who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. As such, they apply to normal and cis people as easily as they apply to gay, bi, or trans people. The law protects in all directions, not just one.
Right to fair wages
Most employees have entitlements that ensure they’re paid the minimum wage. There are some employees who are exempt minimum wage protection. In tipping countries, people can be paid below the minimum wage on the belief that the tip they get will cover it. Otherwise, however, all employers must make sure that they pay their employees the minimum wage. This includes payment for time spent on work-related tasks that don’t fully comply with their definition and job description. For example, people accrue to be paid for the time spent on training required by the job.
Another form of protection for pay rates is the overtime pay that almost all employees must pay if they work more than forty hours in a work week. There are several employees which is excluded from receiving overtime pay, such as executives, educated professionals, and artistic professionals. There are other categories of workers who are considered exempt from having to earn overtime pay, but it’s worth checking to be sure you aren’t failing to give your employees what they’re due.
In addition, if there is a sign, such as a contract or even common practice in business that dictates when employees should be paid, then it’s the employer’s responsibility to make sure they’re paid when expected. Having payroll software can automate this making it easier to avoid mistakes like paying employees late.
Reasonable working hours are also considered part of the right to fair wages. While employers may pay employees for any overtime they work, they can’t coerce or coerce them to do it every now and then in any way.
The right to avoid wrongful termination (and retaliation)
There are laws that protect employees who also try to protect their rights. These are known as whistleblower rights. Employers cannot take action against those who report criminal misconduct by the company, such as firing them or disciplining them. This is known as reprisal and is commonly considered a more serious crime than the offense that was reported in the first place.
However, not every kind of wrongful termination are based on retaliation. In fact, wrongful termination of employment based on discrimination is widely viewed as probably the most widely recognised forms of illegal termination of employment. It is against the law to fire an employee because, in any part, their race, national origin, gender, religion, disability, age, or pregnancy status. Some, but not all countries, also extend this protection to gender identity and sexuality.
Most states use work at will law. This is commonly taken to mean that the employer can fire the worker for any reason. However, that’s not completely true. First, even if the employer does not have a really good reason (and they do not need one), they still must provide fair procedures and warning before termination. There are also times when termination of employment simply doesn’t apply. If termination of employment violates clear clauses in the workers’ contract, if it is finished for reasons of discrimination, or is carried out as retaliation as described above, then even voluntary termination of employment may be considered illegal.
Consequences of failure to guarantee employee rights
There are serious consequences for failing to protect the rights of your employees. The most common is being fined. The severity of the fine can rely upon the type of non-compliance evident in the business. Fines aren’t the only type of economic loss you can experience. If an employee takes steps towards litigation, it can get even more serious. Even if you successfully defend your company from the lawsuit, the legal costs alone can be serious.
While unusual, some individuals in business can be jailed for some of the most serious offenses that endanger the health and safety of employees. This is most frequently the result of a direct case of malpractice or harm. If multiple people are involved, then they can all be serving criminal charges at the same time, and that goes for you and other employees and executives as well.
Even if there are not any legal repercussions, there can still be an adverse impact on business. Your reputation can be damaged, meaning your relationships with business partners, customers and clients become harder to maintain. Other staff members may become concerned about their rights, whether or not they have a reasonable excuse or not, and leave. You can experience downtime when facing legal challenges, which means lost productivity and lost revenue. It is important to protect against risks even if you have done nothing wrong.
Taking each employee as a business owner in signing a legal contract you must do to uphold. We hope that the above tips have helped you better understand what your division is and help you live it in the best way possible.