You’ve achieved your dream of running your own business and now you need to hire employees. Great! But, do you understand employment law and how it impacts hiring, screening, and every other aspect of bringing on a new employee?
If not, it’s definitely time to brush up on the most important workplace laws. This way, you ensure the safety, security, and well-being of your employees and your organization.
Labor and employee relations laws are some of the easiest to violate. Even worse, they can be extremely costly if you fail to follow them. After all, ignorance of the law is not a valid defense.
Here is a basic overview of five workplace laws every employer needs to know:
Top Workplace Laws for Employers
1. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
WHY IS FLSA IMPORTANT FOR EMPLOYEES:
You’ve likely heard of the FLSA as a business owner. It was passed into law to improve working conditions, ban child labor, establish a federal minimum wage, and overtime pay.
HOW FLSA AFFECTS EMPLOYERS:
You must comply with the federal minimum wage. And likely, you’ll need to compensate any employee working 40+ hours weekly with overtime pay. However, small business owners often use independent contractors who may be considered employees.
2. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
WHY IS FMLA IMPORTANT FOR EMPLOYEES:
The FMLA is actually a more recent law. The FMLA protects the jobs of workers who need a leave of absence for either a serious medical condition or for new parents. Under the FMLA, employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off without fear of losing their job or medical benefits.
HOW FMLA AFFECTS EMPLOYERS:
If you have more than 50 employees, you are required to grant eligible employees up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for qualifying conditions. FMLA prohibits employers from preventing, denying or interfering with employee rights under this law.
As an employer, you also play an important role in preventing employee abuse of the FMLA.
3. National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
WHY IS NLRA IMPORTANT FOR EMPLOYEES:
The NLRA was enacted to protect both employees and employers. It encourages collective bargaining and prevent certain management practices that can cause harm to the welfare of workers, businesses, and the economy.
HOW NLRA AFFECTS EMPLOYERS:
Don’t think that you can avoid learning about the NLRA if you don’t employ unionized workers. The requirements of this law still apply to most private employers. Essentially, it gives employees permission to discuss terms and conditions of their employment including wages with one another and with management.
One area that has proved problematic for employers in the past is the NLRA Board’s view of social media policies. For example, some employers limit what employees can post on social media sites such as Facebook, Snap Chat, or Twitter. However, this can get companies in trouble if the rules interfere with Section 7 of the NLRA.
You want to be very careful how you write company social media policies to ensure you aren’t infringing on employee rights under the NLRA.
4. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
WHY OSHA IS IMPORTANT FOR EMPLOYEES:
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was signed into law in 1970 to decrease the number of workplace deaths and injuries. Additionally, OSHA brings to light the importance of safety in the workplace.
HOW OSHA AFFECTS EMPLOYERS:
Obviously, employers must provide a safe work environment for their employees. Moreover, as an employer, you are responsible for providing education and training in safe work practices and procedures.
Under OSHA, you’re also required to supply information on workplace hazards as well as methods for filing and documenting workplace injuries and complaints.
5. Civil Rights Act
WHY IS THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT IMPORTANT FOR EMPLOYEES:
The Civil Rights Act was signed to eliminate segregation in public places and outlaw discrimination by employers based on race, gender, or religion.
It also stimulated many of the workplace laws to come such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and others.
HOW THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT AFFECTS EMPLOYERS:
The Civil Rights Act set in motion several other laws that provide fair treatment in the workplace. These laws encompass the entire employment process including recruitment, benefits, and ending discriminatory practices.
It’s important that you understand these laws as an employer. Moreover, you must make a conscious effort to evaluate your recruitment, hiring, and evaluation practices regularly to ensure you don’t discriminate.
Why should employers learn employment law?
As an employer, understanding employment laws can help you provide a better workplace for your employees and improve your chances of building a successful business.
If you’re looking for a way to better understand these workplace laws, you can learn them online in as little six weeks. Staying informed will help you become a better business owner!
To enroll in our six-week Employment Law Fundamentals course, click the link below.