Not long ago, many workers depend on the mercy of their employers concerning their safety and benefits at work. But fortunately, things had made a significant shift when employee rights made their way in the 20th century, offering essential labor protection laws that many U.S. citizens enjoy these days.
There are about 180 employee protection laws in the U.S., including parental leave benefits, employee pay requirements, and many more. Some of these laws are even supervised by some agencies, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
This article will discuss the top labor protection laws that most employees benefit from today.
Minimum Wage Law
The FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act ensures that all workers receive a minimum wage for their jobs. From 2009, many public and private employers started paying their staff at least $7.25 per hour, yet many legislators have attempted to increase the amount. Also, the law guarantees nonexempt workers receive the correct pay for overtime work.
In addition, the FLSA protects minor workers too. Businesses cannot hire individuals under 18 for high-risk jobs, and for nonagricultural posts, children below 16 have limited work hours.
Safety in Workplaces
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 focuses on decreasing dangers in the workplace. The legislation constructed multiple safety provisions throughout the years, including guidelines for specific industries, such as maritime, construction, and agricultural jobs.
For example, employees working over or close to water, such as marine yacht plumbing professionals and boat maintenance experts, shall be provided with buoyant work vests or life jackets to decrease the risk of drowning. The act also disallows any workplace practice that presents an explicit risk to workers.
The Social Security Act law signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 ensures that retired Americans have a financial safety net. As of recent years, most retirees receive an average of $1,543 per month. Meanwhile, citizens with disabilities receive $1,277 monthly.
Where does the government get funds for these benefits? These are all funded by a payroll tax. The amount is taken away from your earnings, and half of it comes from your employer. As for self-employed individuals, they need to pay the total amount of the tax by themselves, which is 12.4% of their total income.
The Affordable Care Act aims to provide workers of medium and large enterprises with rightful health insurance. In this act, employers are obligated to protect their full-time employees, ensuring that they receive at least minimal levels of health insurance. Otherwise, the employer will have to pay the penalty. Before a worker becomes a “full-time employee,” he must work for the company for at least 30 hours a week.
The Family and Medical Leave Act signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton ensures that eligible employees receive benefits if they decide not to work in the event of their child’s birth or adoption. It also covers the events where employees feel the need to leave work temporarily when a family member is critically ill.
But not everyone is eligible for the said benefit. For starters, the employee should be with the company for 12 consecutive months and have worked at least 1,250 hours before the application. Further, the law is only applicable to companies with more or less 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
While every state has its unemployment insurance agency, unemployment benefits are provided by a joint federal-state program. The state handles the payments to the unemployed individuals but must meet particular federal rules regarding how they do the process.
Often, individuals who qualify for unemployment must be unemployed for acceptable reasons—for example, getting fired or laid off by their companies. Most of the time, unemployed citizens can receive payments for up to 26 weeks, but it can be extended, especially during some points of economic turmoil.
And while the U.S. unemployment benefits are not are generous as some European countries, the system still ensures that unemployed Americans are well provided for at least a few months when they are temporarily out of work.
One of the most important laws that brought employment social justice in America is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law protects people in general as it prohibits businesses from discriminating based on religion, sex, color, national origin, or race. After 45 years, the law was strengthened more when the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act prohibits wage discrimination against minors and women workers.
There is no doubt that American employees benefit from many legal protections mainly designed to provide rightful pay and shied from hazards in the workplace. If you are experiencing injustice in your workplace, keep in mind that there are laws that protect your welfare, so there is no reason to be afraid to exercise your right to fight for what’s right.