Three employment laws will be discussed in this article. Also known as HR laws, employers should familiarize themselves, and the Human Resources department or Personnel should also be familiar with these laws. The three laws discussed here for your information are laws about minimum wages and overtime, Family Medical Leave Act, and sexual harassment. The first law will cover wages and overtime.
Wages and Overtime
According to Federal law, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. More than half the states have laws mandating higher minimum wages for nonexempt employees. Exempt employees are paid salaries based on periods of time (for example, weekly or monthly) instead of being paid by the hour. They are not entitled to receive overtime pay at 1 ½ times the regular rate. Nonexempt employees are paid 1 ½ times their regular rate or more for overtime. Overtime is paid when an employee works more than 40 hours in a week.
The minimum wage varies in states mandating higher minimum wages than mandated by Federal law. Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Washington, DC have higher minimum wages. Employees are sometimes eligible for time off for medical reasons.
Family Leave and Medical Act
Employees who have worked with an employer for more than 12 months sometimes qualify for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The employee requesting FMLA must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past year if the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles. The employee is then entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year for any of the following reasons:
- for the birth and care of the newborn child;
- for placement for adoption or foster care;
- to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition; or
- to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
An immediate family member is a spouse, child, or parent. Employees also can use FMLA for themselves. Serious medical conditions may involve inpatient care, incapacitation for three or more days and continuing treatment, a chronic condition that requires a person to go to a health care provider at least two times a year, or the condition causes incapacity periodically. Sometimes pregnant women need time off. Time taken off for pregnancy complications can be counted against the 12 weeks of FMLA. In addition to FMLA laws, employees are protected against sexual harassment.
Harassment of an applicant or employee is forbidden. Sexual harassment can cover the following offenses: Unwelcome sexual advances, invitations for sexual favors, and other incidences of harassment of a sexual nature either physical or verbal. Offensive remarks about a person’s gender are illegal. The victim or harasser may be either gender (male or female), and the two or more parties can be of the same sex or opposite sexes. In addition to that, harassment is illegal when it is extremely frequent or severe. It can cause a hostile or offensive work environment or can result in unfavorable actions such as discipline or demotion of the victim. The person doing the harassment can be a supervisor, a co-worker, or a person who does not work for the company (for example, a customer or client).
Just three of several laws are described in detail. Some general information is provided in another article, which includes the three laws mentioned above. Other laws discuss matters such as discrimination, Worker’s Compensation, workplace safety, and immigration. Familiarizing yourself with the laws helps prevent lawsuits, and applying them creates a more pleasant environment for employees.