Protect Yourself: Laws Every Employee Should Know

UntitledEmployment is generally a necessary part of life.  Some of us enjoy our jobs and like our employers, some of us really do not care for our jobs or our employers, and some of us fall somewhere in between depending on the day.  Whether you like your job or not, there are several employment laws you should be aware of in order to protect yourself.   Knowing these laws is important as many employees have fallen victim to their employers simply because they do not know their rights and the law.

Paycheck Laws

There are several laws surrounding how and when your employer pays you for your work and time.  The law states that your employer cannot withhold money from your paycheck for performing poorly on the job.  This law stands under any career and circumstance, even if you broke an expensive piece of equipment or made a very costly error, your employer still must pay you what they owe you.  However, there is nothing to prevent them from firing you.  In addition, each state has laws regarding when your employer must pay you.  Your employer must pay you within the time period given by the state and if they do not, they may have to pay you even more for the tardiness of your check.

Overtime Laws

To many employers dismay, the government decides who is eligible for overtime and who is not.  All jobs are either exempt or non-exempt, as decided by the federal government.  If you are a non-exempt employee, by law, you must be paid time and a half for all hours worked above 40 in a week.  If you are unsure as to whether you are exempt or not, it should list your status on your paystub.  If you are a non-exempt employee, it is illegal for your employer to mandate or even allow you to work unpaid and not on the clock.  Non-exempt employees have to be paid for all time worked, and neither the employee nor employer can waive this right.  Additionally, an employer is not allowed to offer comp time in exchange for paying employees overtime.

Contractor Law

If you are paid as a contractor, the company you work for must treat you as one.  This means the company you contract for, by law, cannot control when, where, or how you work.  If they do control these factors, then you are an employee.  If you are an employee, not a contractor, the law says you must be paid as one and receive the same benefits, such as vacation time and insurance, as other employees.

Work Discussions

Many companies have policies against discussing work conditions and salaries while at work and with other employees in general.  This may be their policy, but it is illegal.  Employees are legally allowed to discuss wages amongst each other.  They are also allowed to discuss working conditions and important work issues.

Employee Handbooks

Many people do not know that what is written in the employee handbook at their work place is most likely binding.  Historically, courts have ruled that they are legally binding in many cases.  This is especially true if the employee handbook uses terms like “will” or “shall” in relation to particular actions.

These laws are set in place by the government and apply to all career fields. They provide for fair and just working opportunities and pay, and protect the employee from being taken advantage of by the employer. Most of us need and want to keep our jobs, so we tend to not rock the boat and remain silent about many issues.  However, it is important to be aware of these legal employment rights in order to protect ourselves if they need ever arises.

Author Bio
Alex Wright is a writer and blogger who creates articles related to law. This article informs employees about a few of their legal rights and aims to encourage further study in law such as the California Western School of Law, to find out more click here.

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