HR Basics: Employment Law
HR Basics: Understanding Employment Law
Employment regulations come from laws passed by Congress, state legislatures, and local governing bodies. Laws focus on fair treatment of individuals in the workplace, and they play a crucial role in guiding managers and organizations. Employment laws can be grouped into four categories: Equal Employment, Total Rewards, Employee Safety and Health, and Labor Relations.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws focus on eliminating discrimination in the workplace. Two agencies oversee Equal Employment regulations: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). EEO laws prohibit job discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and other traits called protected characteristics. Discriminatory practices can be grouped into four categories: disparate treatment, disparate impact, harassment, and retaliation.
Compensation and benefits employment regulations have been shaped by major pieces of legislation over time. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act provides for equal pay for men and women. Equal Pay laws provide that no employer should pay wages to employees at a rate less than that of the opposite sex. A gender pay gap still exists, with women earning on average only 77 cents for every dollar men earn.
Workplace safety laws are in place to reduce the risk of accidents and illnesses. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures employers follow safety regulations to keep their employees safe. Violations can result in monetary fines, imprisonment, and other criminal penalties.
Workers’ Compensation law provides a system of rules to pay expenses for employees who are harmed on the job. Employees can recover lost wages, medical and rehabilitation expenses, disability payments, and retraining costs.
Labor Relations laws help maintain relationships with employees organized by labor unions. The National Labor Code consists of three acts passed over a period of almost 25 years. Each act focuses on some facet of the relationship between unions and management.
Understanding employment law is crucial for both employers and employees. It helps frame our understanding of fair treatment of individuals in the workplace. Employers should understand employment law to avoid legal action resulting from ignorance, and employees should know their rights to avoid being treated unfairly. HR Basics provides a series of short lessons to highlight what you need to know about Human Resource Management topics.