We work to live; we do not live to work.
As early as early adulthood, employment is one of this life’s major concerns. Actually, there are thousands federal laws and state statutes, administrative regulations and jurisprudence in the United States which deal with labor or employment law.
Employment law is very broad. But the most important specific areas include the following:
- Collective bargaining
- Employment discrimination
- Unemployment compensation
- Workplace safety
- Workmen’s compensation
The National Labor Relations Act is the main law governing collective bargaining. It expressly gives employees the right to collectively bargain and join unions. It is applicable to most non-agricultural employees and employers who are engage in some aspects of intestate commerce.
Collective bargaining is composed of negotiations between the employees and the employer to determine the conditions of employment such as wages, work hours and compensation and benefits, among others.
Most states have laws, which further regulate collective bargaining and make collective agreements enforceable under state law.
Discrimination laws prohibit discrimination based on race, gender, religion, national or ethnic origin, physical disability, age and sexual preference by employers.
Bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, and various types of harassment are discriminatory practices.
The Federal Constitution and some state constitutions give additional protection where the employer is a government agency or the government has taken significant steps to foster the discriminatory practice of the employer.
This is insurance for those who are unemployed because they are terminated without the fault of their own. Monetary payments are given to terminated employees until such time that they find a new job.
Employees continuously receive this monetary compensation from their employers even after retirement.
There are two main forms of pensions, they are:
- defined benefit plan
- defined contribution plan
Defined benefits plan is based on the length of the employee’s service and his wages.
Defined contribution plan is based on the employer’s regular deposit into an account secured for each employee.
Workplace safety laws establish regulations designed to eliminate personal injuries and illnesses from happening in the workplace. These laws are primarily composed of federal and state statutes.
The Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSHA) is the main law which protects the health and safety of workers in the workplace. It is Congress which enacted this law.
All private employers who are engaged in interstate commerce are subject to the regulations promulgated under OSHA.
For those who are injured or disabled on the job, these laws give them fixed monetary award as a matter of right without the need of an action in courts.
Under these laws, dependents of workers who were killed while working or suffered work-related illnesses and died will also be given benefits.
While majority of these laws can be considered pro-employees, some were also designed to protect employers by limiting the amount an injured employee may received from the former.