Employment Law: What to Know

Any business, whether large of small, must comply with employment law. Employment law establishes the relationship between employee, employer, the government, and trade unions. Also called labor law, it includes the application of contract and tort doctrines, individual employment contracts, and a variety of statutory regulations. The advent of the industrial revolution led to the adoption of employment law, as workers sought better working conditions and rights, while employers sought a less costly, more predictable workforce.

The law

England was the first country to industrialize and face the consequences of capitalist exploitation in an unregulated economic framework. As a result, pressure and struggles between various social forces resulted in the gradual laying down of the foundations of modern employment law through legislation. The English Common Law, and later on the early U.S. Law, classified the relationship between an employee and an employer as that of servant and master. Concerted efforts and pressure from various social reformers and groups helped to eliminate some of the more atrocious aspects of the master–servant relationship.

Basics of the US Labor Laws for a Small Business

New and small businesses should identify and understand the specific labor laws and regulations that apply to them. Each small business plays an important role in the economy of the nation; therefore, the United States Department of Labor provides a host of resources to help new and small businesses stay in compliance with all laws and regulations concerned with employment.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 created the Wage and Hour Division, which is responsible for the enforcement of various labor standards laws for state, local government, and private employment. Its mission is to promote compliance with employment standards to protect the welfare of all workers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, administered by the Wage and Hour Division, stipulates that most employees, whether in a small or large business, must earn at least the federal minimum wage. When it comes to hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, employees must earn time and one–half their regular rate. The act also sets the minimum age for employment as 14 years, and restricts the allowable occupations and hours of work for such minors.

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act permits the use of polygraph tests to very limited circumstances. It limits the use of the tests by private employers for pre–employment screening, or for testing workers in the course of employment. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires all public agencies and businesses that employ 50 or more workers to provide 12 weeks of job–protected, unpaid leave each year for the birth and care of a newborn child, for serious illness, for the employee’s sick child, spouse, or parent, and for adoption or foster care arrangements.

Other acts administered by the Wage & Hour Division include the Consumer Credit Protection Act, the Davis–Bacon and Related Acts, the McNamara–O’Hara Service Contract Act, Immigration and Nationality Act, Migrant & Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, Field Sanitation Provisions of Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Agricultural Temporary Labor Camp Provisions of ASHAct. The Department of Labor enforces more than 180 laws that cover workplace activities for millions of large and small business employers and employees.

Basics of the UK Employment Laws for a Small Business

A new or small business in the UK must comply with all employment laws to reduce the likelihood of discrimination or dismissal claims and employment tribunals. When it comes to recruitment, the UK employment laws prohibit discrimination, whether unconscious or conscious. In addition, the contract of employment applies as soon as the candidate accents a job offer, whether verbal, or in writing.

The employer must provide a written statement of terms and conditions, detailing pay, working hours, job title, holiday entitlement and other aspects of employment, within the first 2 months of employment. In addition, the employer cannot change the terms of employment without the employee’s consent.

The laws entitle employees to work a maximum of 48 hours each week, and a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid leave each year. Employers must also provide for maternity leave, leave for family reasons, and adoption leave. The UK employment law also sets a national minimum wage for workers in different age groups.

The UK employment laws also cover the Employer’s National Insurance, and the employee’s tax and NI contributions, employee rights, discrimination, sickness, and disciplinary issues.

A small business must comply with all employment laws to avoid legal action, and to operate smoothly.

About the Author: Joshua Turner is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to business. In this article, he describes employment law and aims to encourage further study with a master of science in law online.