HR Basics: Employment Law

HR Basics: Employment Law

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HR Basics is a series of short lessons designed to highlight what you need to know about a particular Human Resource Management topic. In today’s HR Basics, we explore employment law, providing an overview of the laws and regulations pertaining to the management of people in organizations. Employment regulations derive from laws passed by Congress, state legislatures and local governing bodies. They also originate from executive orders of the President of the United States to manage the operation of federal government and its contractors. These regulations commonly focused on fair treatment of people in the workplace. Employment Laws influence employee contributions to organizational performance by guiding managers in the management of people and organizations. Nearly all employment laws can be categorized in four areas of the regulatory environment. Here they are: Equal Employment, Total Rewards, Employee Safety and Health, and Labor Relations. To begin, let’s focus on regulations in the form of Equal Employment Opportunity, or EEO Laws, and other regulations related to fair treatment of employees. Equal Employment Opportunity laws prohibit specific types of job discrimination in the workplace. EEO laws and executive orders are intended to eliminate employment discrimination. The EEOC oversees compliance of these laws. Two agencies oversee Equal Employment regulations. As we mentioned, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is responsible for developing guidelines and overseeing compliance with most anti-discrimination laws. Then, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, or OFCCP, is responsible for the same activities relative to executive orders and work in the federal government. The primary objective of anti-discrimination legislation is to ensure that individuals are given an equal opportunity in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act outlaws employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion in any aspect of employment, from being hired to being fired and everything in between. These traits are called protected characteristics and are referred to as protected classes. Discriminatory practices can typically be grouped in one of four categories. First, disparate treatment, where an individual is treated differently because of the characteristic that defines their protected class. Second, disparate impact, a more subtle and usually unintentional form of discrimination that’s also known as adverse impact. Third, harassment, which is unwanted and unwelcome treatment because of a protected class. And finally, retaliation. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee for making the complaint of harassment or discrimination. Now let’s move on to those laws that regulate compensation and benefits. Over the course of time, the administration of employee compensation, or total rewards, has been regulated by federal, state and local governments. Let’s take a brief look at the primary compensation and benefits employment regulations that you need to know as a Human Resource professional. Since 1931, five major pieces of legislation have shaped the fabric of how employees are paid including: in 1931, the Davis-Bacon Act, in 1936, the Walsh-Hartley Act, in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act, in 1963, the Equal Pay Act and in 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, is administered by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. The Act establishes standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor. These standards affect more than 130 million workers, both full-time and part-time, in the private and public sectors. To learn more, see Gregg’s Part 541 Fair Labor Standards Act. I’ll put a link to that video below. Equal Pay laws provide that no employer discriminate between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees at a rate less than that of the opposite sex. Although the Equal Pay Act was passed more than 50 years ago, a gender pay gap still exists. Females earn on average only 77 cents for every dollar males are earning. Workplace safety law consists of federal and state regulations imposed on businesses in an effort to keep employees safe from harm. These rules apply to nearly all employers. Standards are in place to reduce the risk of accidents and illnesses in the workplace and government agents have the authority to investigate violations and issue citations for non-compliance. Offenders are subject to monetary fines, and in some cases, imprisonment and other criminal penalties. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is the federal agency responsible for protecting the health and safety of workers. OSHA makes sure that employers follow occupational safety and health regulations and keep the workplace safe. For more about OSHA, see Gregg Learning’s HR Basics: Occupational Safety and Health Administration. I’ll post a link to that video below. Workers’ Compensation law is a system of rules in every state designed to pay the expenses of employees who are harmed while performing job related duties. Employees can recover lost wages, medical expenses, disability payments and the costs associated with rehabilitation and retraining. The system is administered by the state and financed by mandatory employer contributions. States have enacted Workers Compensation laws to replace traditional personal injury litigation to remove risk for both the employee and the employer. Laws regarding labor relations help maintain relationships with employees organized by labor unions, including the establishment, negotiation and administration of collective bargaining agreements. Three acts – passed over a period of almost 25 years – constitute the core of U.S. labor law:
1. the Wagner Act,
2. the Taft-Hartley Act, and
3. the Landrum-Griffin Act. These acts are also known as the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor Management Relations Act and the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Each act was passed to focus on some facet of the relationship between unions and management. Jointly, they’re referred to as the National Labor Code. For more detailed information on this National Labor Code, check out Gregg Learning’s HR Basics: Labor Relations. I’ll post a link to that video below. Understanding Employment Law is critical for both employers and employees. Our four categories of employment law – Equal Employment, Total Rewards, Employee Safety and Health and Labor Relations – help frame our understanding. Employees should know their rights so they’re not treated unfairly and employers should understand employment law to avoid legal action resulting from ignorance or a lack of knowledge.

3 thoughts on “HR Basics: Employment Law

  • Indonesian Labor Law Consultation Post author

    Nice video.

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  • Ikinararangal ko ako'y Iglesia ni Cristo Post author

    Is this applicable laws in the philippines?

  • Curtis Rowe Post author

    Thank you for a succinct introduction to this topic.

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