What are Labor Laws?

Labor law or employment law refers to the regulation of the relationship between a single worker and their employer.

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‘Employee’ or ‘worker’ is a label connoting the law’s classification of their contract for work and indicates an individual’s set of employment rights.

Labor law has traditionally aimed to protect the employee under a hierarchy built on constitutional provisions, statutory law, collective agreements at various levels, and the employment contract.

How Do Labor Laws Work?

The subject of employment law, governed by both state laws and regulations from the federal government in the US, deals with all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. It includes not only relationships between employers and current employees but also job applicants and former employees. Employment relationships are complex and span a range of situations that arise out of recruitment, hiring, benefits, taxation, management, discipline, and discharge.

In the United States, for example, major federal antidiscrimination laws, overseen by the federal government, are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

Most states, under their respective state laws, have fair employment practice acts enforced by state fair employment practice agencies (FEPAs). State enforcement measures, by and large, follow those practiced by the EEOC. Both employers and employees are protected by legislation.

Key Components of Labor Laws

Employment law may be separated into three main themes:

  • Health and safety legislation
  • Individual employment legislation
  • Collective employment legislation

According to College of Law Publishing, components of labor laws falling under the main themes include:

  • The Contract of Employment
  • Termination of The Contract of Employment – Wrongful Dismissal
  • Dismissal – Eligibility to Present a Statutory Claim
  • Redundancy
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Practice And Procedure, Settlements and Overlapping Claims
  • Transfer of Undertakings
  • Discrimination and Equal Pay
  • Harassment and Victimisation
  • Family-Friendly Rights and The Right to Request Flexible Working
  • Human Rights, Monitoring and Data Protection

Importance of Labor Laws

Employment law ultimately protects employees from exploitation, but it also works towards good practice and encourages activities that will support business. 

Employment law is put in place to protect the weaker party, whether it’s a junior member being unfairly dismissed or a senior manager being made redundant. While not all employers have the interests of their employees in their sight, not all employees act professionally and honestly. The law should protect both parties, and is necessary to:

  • Meet political and social demands;
  • Provide a stable and engaged workforce;
  • Build competitive companies;
  • Sustain the economy.

What Responsibilities Do Employers Have Under Labor Laws?

When it comes to Labor Law, there are three main areas of HR responsibility:

  1. Impact of discrimination legislation: how to recruit and select employees and how to manage employees fairly in employment.
  2. Managing absence: short- and long-term absence and the practicalities of statutory sick pay and fit notes
  3. Health and safety can often be part of the HR professional’s remit.

How Companies Can Effectively Integrate Labor Laws

The relationship between the employer and employee is regulated by law. HR professionals can effectively integrate labor laws by:

  • Clarifying the employment status of those that work for them
  • Gaining consent to changes to employment contracts
  • Communicating business transfers to stakeholders
  • Arranging compromise or settlement agreements
  • Managing short-term and long-term absence
  • Challenging discrimination in the workplace
  • Managing health and safety
  • Managing maternity leave and pay
  • Carrying out job evaluations
  • Managing misconduct disciplinary meetings
  • Supporting employees facing redundancy

What Rights Do Employees Have Under Labor Laws?

According to US federal employment laws, employees have the following rights: 

  • Protection from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • Safeguard against age discrimination for employees 40 years and older.
  • Protection from discrimination due to pregnancy or related conditions.
  • Prevention of disability-based discrimination.
  • Defense against national origin or citizenship discrimination.
  • Assurance of safe working conditions.
  • Right to equal pay for equal work, irrespective of gender.
  • Rights and protections as outlined and enforced by the Department of Labor and various federal laws requiring compliance from employers.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all rights and protections under federal law. Furthermore, not all employers are subject to the law, this may depend on how many employees are in the company.

What Responsibilities Do Employees Have Under Labor Laws?

Some examples of employees’ responsibilities and implied duties towards their employers are to:

  • Follow company rules
  • Work in good faith
  • Adapt to new working methods
  • Use reasonable care and skill
  • Maintain confidentiality

Labor Laws in a Nutshell

  • Employment Law Overview: Employment law, encompassing labor laws and regulations, regulates the relationship between employers and workers in the private sector, as well as in public sectors, at both domestic and international levels. It addresses not only current employees but also job applicants and former employees.
  • Labor Law Scope and Employee Protections: Labor law spans health and safety, individual employment, and collective employment legislation. It safeguards employees from discrimination and ensures equitable pay.
  • Employer Responsibilities and Employee Expectations: Employers in the private sector and beyond are accountable for non-discriminatory practices, managing absence, and ensuring health and safety. Employees are expected to adhere to company rules, work in good faith, adapt to changes, use reasonable care and skill, and maintain confidentiality.
  • HR Professionals and Labor Law: HR professionals play a pivotal role in effectively integrating labor laws and regulations within the workplace. They manage crucial aspects such as changes in employment contracts, including provisions for overtime pay and wage rates, overseeing absence, ensuring health and safety compliance.

Labor Law FAQs

What is the labor laws definition?

  • Labor Laws refer to the areas of law that encompass individual labor contracts, coined as ‘employment law’ in some jurisdictions, as well as collective bargaining and the law of industrial relations.

What steps can employees take if they believe their rights have been violated under labor laws?

  • In the United States, any individual who believes that his or her employment rights have been violated may file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Employees may check the EEOC’s counterpart in their country. In addition, in order to protect a claimant’s identity, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf of another person.

Are there specific regulations regarding working hours, breaks, and overtime under labor laws?

  • This varies from country to country and even between contracts. Employees should refer to the “Express terms”—the most significant details of the employment contract. These cover the hours worked, pay, holiday entitlement and so on. In the UK, legislation governing many aspects of employment law (ERA 1996) requires that an employee whose employment continues for a month or more must be provided with a statement of written particulars within eight weeks of employment commencement.

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‘Employee’ or ‘worker’ is a label connoting the law’s classification of their contract for work and indicates an individual’s set of employment rights.

Labor law has traditionally aimed to protect the employee under a hierarchy built on constitutional provisions, statutory law, collective agreements at various levels, and the employment contract.

How Do Labor Laws Work?

The subject of employment law, governed by both state laws and regulations from the federal government in the US, deals with all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. It includes not only relationships between employers and current employees but also job applicants and former employees. Employment relationships are complex and span a range of situations that arise out of recruitment, hiring, benefits, taxation, management, discipline, and discharge.

In the United States, for example, major federal antidiscrimination laws, overseen by the federal government, are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

Most states, under their respective state laws, have fair employment practice acts enforced by state fair employment practice agencies (FEPAs). State enforcement measures, by and large, follow those practiced by the EEOC. Both employers and employees are protected by legislation.

Key Components of Labor Laws

Employment law may be separated into three main themes:

  • Health and safety legislation
  • Individual employment legislation
  • Collective employment legislation

According to College of Law Publishing, components of labor laws falling under the main themes include:

  • The Contract of Employment
  • Termination of The Contract of Employment – Wrongful Dismissal
  • Dismissal – Eligibility to Present a Statutory Claim
  • Redundancy
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Practice And Procedure, Settlements and Overlapping Claims
  • Transfer of Undertakings
  • Discrimination and Equal Pay
  • Harassment and Victimisation
  • Family-Friendly Rights and The Right to Request Flexible Working
  • Human Rights, Monitoring and Data Protection

Importance of Labor Laws

Employment law ultimately protects employees from exploitation, but it also works towards good practice and encourages activities that will support business. 

Employment law is put in place to protect the weaker party, whether it’s a junior member being unfairly dismissed or a senior manager being made redundant. While not all employers have the interests of their employees in their sight, not all employees act professionally and honestly. The law should protect both parties, and is necessary to:

  • Meet political and social demands;
  • Provide a stable and engaged workforce;
  • Build competitive companies;
  • Sustain the economy.

What Responsibilities Do Employers Have Under Labor Laws?

When it comes to Labor Law, there are three main areas of HR responsibility:

  1. Impact of discrimination legislation: how to recruit and select employees and how to manage employees fairly in employment.
  2. Managing absence: short- and long-term absence and the practicalities of statutory sick pay and fit notes
  3. Health and safety can often be part of the HR professional’s remit.

How Companies Can Effectively Integrate Labor Laws

The relationship between the employer and employee is regulated by law. HR professionals can effectively integrate labor laws by:

  • Clarifying the employment status of those that work for them
  • Gaining consent to changes to employment contracts
  • Communicating business transfers to stakeholders
  • Arranging compromise or settlement agreements
  • Managing short-term and long-term absence
  • Challenging discrimination in the workplace
  • Managing health and safety
  • Managing maternity leave and pay
  • Carrying out job evaluations
  • Managing misconduct disciplinary meetings
  • Supporting employees facing redundancy

What Rights Do Employees Have Under Labor Laws?

According to US federal employment laws, employees have the following rights: 

  • Protection from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • Safeguard against age discrimination for employees 40 years and older.
  • Protection from discrimination due to pregnancy or related conditions.
  • Prevention of disability-based discrimination.
  • Defense against national origin or citizenship discrimination.
  • Assurance of safe working conditions.
  • Right to equal pay for equal work, irrespective of gender.
  • Rights and protections as outlined and enforced by the Department of Labor and various federal laws requiring compliance from employers.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all rights and protections under federal law. Furthermore, not all employers are subject to the law, this may depend on how many employees are in the company.

What Responsibilities Do Employees Have Under Labor Laws?

Some examples of employees’ responsibilities and implied duties towards their employers are to:

  • Follow company rules
  • Work in good faith
  • Adapt to new working methods
  • Use reasonable care and skill
  • Maintain confidentiality

Labor Laws in a Nutshell

  • Employment Law Overview: Employment law, encompassing labor laws and regulations, regulates the relationship between employers and workers in the private sector, as well as in public sectors, at both domestic and international levels. It addresses not only current employees but also job applicants and former employees.
  • Labor Law Scope and Employee Protections: Labor law spans health and safety, individual employment, and collective employment legislation. It safeguards employees from discrimination and ensures equitable pay.
  • Employer Responsibilities and Employee Expectations: Employers in the private sector and beyond are accountable for non-discriminatory practices, managing absence, and ensuring health and safety. Employees are expected to adhere to company rules, work in good faith, adapt to changes, use reasonable care and skill, and maintain confidentiality.
  • HR Professionals and Labor Law: HR professionals play a pivotal role in effectively integrating labor laws and regulations within the workplace. They manage crucial aspects such as changes in employment contracts, including provisions for overtime pay and wage rates, overseeing absence, ensuring health and safety compliance.

Labor Law FAQs

What is the labor laws definition?

  • Labor Laws refer to the areas of law that encompass individual labor contracts, coined as ‘employment law’ in some jurisdictions, as well as collective bargaining and the law of industrial relations.

What steps can employees take if they believe their rights have been violated under labor laws?

  • In the United States, any individual who believes that his or her employment rights have been violated may file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Employees may check the EEOC’s counterpart in their country. In addition, in order to protect a claimant’s identity, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf of another person.

Are there specific regulations regarding working hours, breaks, and overtime under labor laws?

  • This varies from country to country and even between contracts. Employees should refer to the “Express terms”—the most significant details of the employment contract. These cover the hours worked, pay, holiday entitlement and so on. In the UK, legislation governing many aspects of employment law (ERA 1996) requires that an employee whose employment continues for a month or more must be provided with a statement of written particulars within eight weeks of employment commencement.
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