Steadily and gradually, we have come to a point in time where being an employee denotes a certain level of respect and value. There are a myriad of profession to choose from with each wearing a promise of a brighter future. However, looking back into the past, one aspect of labor that was heavily flawed were the rights and legal protections of employees. Luckily, thanks to the civil rights movement in the 1960s, our society has been striving ever since to increase the level of security and protection of employees. Here, we have composed a list of some of the most crucial federal laws that exist for the sole purpose of preventing maltreatment of workers and enabling them equality.
Three major rights fall into this category. Firstly, it’s the right to privacy. Every employee has the right to privacy in the workplace. This primarily applies to the worker’s private possessions (handbags, briefcases, mobile phones, etc.). However, employees also have the right to make private phone calls, but those rights do not go to such an extent when it comes to e-mails (mostly because the computers and the internet are provided by the employer). Secondly, there is the right to fair compensation. Every state has this issue regulated. Legally, every private or public employer is obliged to pay a certain amount of money per hour to its employees. Thirdly, it’s the freedom from discrimination. This right can be called upon even before someone gets hired (such would be the case of gender discrimination during the selection process). Everyone should be protected from discrimination of all sorts (racial, ageism, sexism, etc.). Employees also have the right to be free from any kind of harassment. They have the whistleblower rights (in case you have found out that your company is doing something illegal or against human rights and you want to speak out). Of course, there is the right to a safe working environment (this practically means that the workplace is hazard-free).
Let’s not forget about the family leave. In the USA, every employee has the right to an unpaid 12 week family leave (per year) in case a child gets born or a family member suffers from a serious illness. However, there are some criteria involved. You would have to be working for that company for at least a year, and have at least 1.250 working hours.
Unemployment benefits are also highly important. In order for someone to qualify for the payments, they would have to be jobless for a reason that is out of their control (a layoff, for example). You simply never know when a new job offer will arrive, so knowing that you are covered, for at least a brief period of time, is of extreme value. In the USA, if eligible, workers can receive payments for up to 26 weeks.
Social security. This federal law enables financial security for every retired and disabled person in the country. These payments are funded by a payroll tax (every employer and employee pay 6.2% of the staff member’s earnings)
Equal pay. The purpose of this federal law is to prevent discrimination on a gender basis. The content of a job should determine the height of the salary, and not the traits of the employee. This law covers all forms of pay: salary, overtime, bonuses, insurance, vacations, hotel accommodations, etc.
Being aware of your own rights is the first step you need to take in order to prevent any future employers from potentially mistreating you, thereby violating your rights. No matter what your race, gender or age is, you should never be exposed to maltreatment of any sorts. Prior to being able to tell if something is a violation of rights or not, you have to educate yourself. Being informed means knowing what to do in a particular situation, knowing what your options are. We have to constantly strive towards making our society a better place. Given the fact that most of our lives we are going to be working something, for someone, therefore feeling safe, secure and sound, while working, has to be our prerogative. If more of us become aware and educated about our own rights as workers, there is going to be much less space left for maltreatment in the first place. Let’s not have ignorance on our side.