Employee rights are certainly an important part of your job! They should be taken seriously! Do you know your workplace rights? It’s not something we give much thought to as we turn up to work each day. We may have cast over the paragraph entitled "employee rights "when we signed our contract, but we rarely give them a second thought, until the event of us actually needing to know where we stand when faced with an issue. The rights you have in the workplace, however, aren’t just there for times when you are at the wrong end of the employer’s stick. Those rights also provide protection in your day-to-day employment, governing how you should be treated and what you are entitled to as an employee. Here’s a rundown of your more basic rights as an employee.
Employers must stick to the promises made in their handbooks! If you come across something in your workplace handbook and don’t feel as if that promise is being kept, you may have more rights as an employee than you think. These handbooks are often legally binding. It may not be the case in all situations, but the courts could be behind you on this one. The wording of the promises is very important; ‘will’ or ‘shall’ are far more binding than ‘may’ or ‘can.’
By law, you are not allowed to be asked, be expected to, or even volunteer to work off the clock for your employer. No matter what the circumstance, you cannot offer to work unpaid or be forced to do it. It is against your employee rights. You must be paid for all of the work you undertake, and you cannot accept compensatory time in lieu of overtime payment if you are non-exempt.
You must be paid for all your work, regardless of performance! If you have ever had pay docked due to poor work, then your employee rights have been violated. By law, you must be paid for all of your hours worked, regardless of your performance. Obviously, poor work performance does run the risk of you getting fired, but if you make a thousand dollar mess-up, or break a piece of valuable equipment, you cannot be made to reimburse the costs or have the money taken out of your wages. It is just one of the risks associated with business that your employers have to accept. And even if you do get fired, you still have to receive the wages for your hours worked up until that point.
If you are left waiting for your paycheck long after you should have received it, you are within your rights to demand it. State laws set out a time frame in which you should receive your wages. In fact, in some States, your employer could be penalized if they don’t pay up soon enough, and you could receive compensation for a late paycheck. This is one employee right to be aware of!
If you have ever wondered what your colleagues are paid, but thought that you were not allowed to discuss it, then you were wrong. Although some employers may have written policies to prevent it, it is within the rights of employees to discuss your wages with your co-workers, as stated in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Whether you have a concern about your working conditions that you want to discuss, or if you are just talking about work in general, the National Labor Relations Act protects your employee rights. Employers are not allowed to prevent you from talking about your working conditions, as this would stop you from organizing or even becoming aware of widespread problems within your workplace.
Overtime is determined by federal government, not your employer! Jobs, as determined by federal government, are either exempt or non-exempt, and whether you are paid overtime or not is decided by which category your job comes under. Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime (time and a half) for any hours worked above hours per week. The category that your job is in is not decided by your employer, but by the government, and cannot be changed by you or your employer.
You can be hired by an employer as either an employee or a contractor. If you are a contractor, you do not have the same rights of an employee, and are essentially self-employed and hiring yourself out to different employers. However, if you are an employee, you work for your employer and they control when, where and how you work. Because of this, they have rights to abide to concerning your benefits and taxes. They are not allowed to treat you like a contractor if you are working as an employee.
Did you know all these employee rights? I think the rule about late paychecks is probably not as well-known as it should be, and what an important employee right! In times when many companies are struggling financially, it’s a good thing to be aware of. Whether you are already in work, or about to embark on your career, make sure you are fully aware of your rights as an employee! Please comment below if you know any specific employee rights to add to this list.
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