Friday, June 5, 2020

Legal Practices Every Employer Should Impose.

October 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Whether you’re an owner of a successful company, you run a small business with a few employees, or you’re the busy career person with some employees taking care of maintenance in your home, labor laws are something you should definitely be familiar with. And to stay on the right side of (the long arms of) the law, this should happen sooner rather than later. More so if you’re in business, you really don’t want to subject your business to the many risks associated with non-compliance with the law.

Especially for startups, a single lawsuit from an employee can have the potential of crippling your business while ruining your own personal reputation. Furthermore, knowing that you’re a law-abiding employer who complies with legal standards alone can have a motivating effect on employees in your organization. And it goes without saying, being an employer of choice kind of gives you an edge over your competition since it’s a contributing factor to attracting and retaining the best talent on the job. But how exactly do you keep things as legal and legitimate as possible as an employer? Just for some enlightenment, here are a few legal practices that every employer should impose.

Take measures to ensure workplace safety

Each and every employer has the responsibility of ensuring that the workplace safe and conducive for each and every employee they hire. This applies not only in high-risk jobs such as in the construction, maritime, and healthcare industries but also in other industries as well. In the US, for instance, OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is tasked with the responsibility of enforcing the law.

Some things you could do to improve workplace safety include installing non-slip flooring, providing the necessary safety gear, and providing adequate training for your employees about dealing with the various safety and health hazards that may lurk in the workplace. In most environments, placing fire extinguishers at strategic points in the workplace is also highly recommended, especially in a place such as Texas in the US. This is because fires are the most common hazards in workplaces and in case they don’t lead to fatalities, they are notoriously known to result in burn injuries among employees, which can be extremely painful and costly to treat. Going with the Texas example, modern employees know their rights nowadays, and they don’t have to wait until a fire accident occurs to know when to ask a Houston burn injury lawyer for assistance. They’ll simply spot a burn hazard when they see one, which is all the more reason to ensure you have adequate worker’s compensation insurance as an employer. This will cover you against any liability claims that may result in the event an employee got injured on the job even after putting all the possible safety measures in place.

Observe the wage and hour laws

Each and every state or country has a specific minimum wage that employees should observe. In other words, there’s a minimum rate below which you just can’t go. In the US, for instance, this is governed by the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that set the minimum wage for American laborers to $7.25 an hour.  However, the minimum wage may be higher than this in some states, which makes it important to find out what the required minimum pay is in your specific state. Additionally, employees are entitled to overtime pay. According to the same act mentioned above, employees should be compensated for every hour of work above 40 hours a week, in which the pay should be 1.5 times the regular rates. Observing the wage and hourly laws can help keep your business on the good side of the law.

Leaves and benefits

Depending on location, provisions for leaves may vary from one industry to the other, especially since some jobs are more demanding than others. However, employees are generally entitled to various types of paid and unpaid leaves, including sick leave, family leave, and vacation. For instance, large employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid family or parental leave under the US Family and Medical Leave Act of 1963, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. This can be used by an employee when they need time to take care of a sick loved one, or when they have a health problem of their own. To be on the safe side of the law, it is best to include in the employment contract, a clear account of the various types of leaves your employee is eligible for, along with the associated benefits.

Provide health insurance

If you have at least 50 full-time employees under your payroll, your business is required to provide health insurance to your employees under a shared responsibility payment basis. In other words, it’s a plan where both the employer and the employee contribute towards the health cover of the employee. Failure to comply with this requirement could attract hefty penalties. However, this only applies if you have 50 or more employees who work an average of at least 30 hours weekly, which is the qualification criteria for one to be considered a full-time employee.

Take measures to minimize workplace discrimination

For employers, the discriminatory treatment of workers based on things such as their ethnicity, gender, age, religion, or disability is prohibited. This especially applies to the hiring process, the allocation of wages, promotion, and assignment of duties. To prevent workplace discrimination amongst your workers, employees need to be educated about discrimination. You may also want to create a policy that contains rules and regulations to prohibit any acts or conducts of discrimination. This may also include disciplinary action to be taken against employees found at fault.

Don’t infringe on your employees’ rights to privacy

While it can be tempting to monitor the whereabouts and activities of employees that hold certain positions in your business, it’s important to note that workers have their right to privacy, which is protected under civil rights laws. While you may reserve the right to scrutinize conversations and activities carried out using the business-owned electronic devices, doing so on personal employee items such as handbags, phones, and so forth could be an infringement of employees’ right to privacy.

In many countries, there are literally hundreds of labor laws, put in place to protect the rights of both employees and employers. As an employer, getting understanding these laws can help avoid unnecessary litigation, keep your workers motivated and focus more on expanding your venture. The above, however, are some of the legal practices every employer should impose.

Staff Writer; Bobby Ford

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