Employment Law


Employment law is the body of law that governs the employer-employee relationship. It protects individual employment contracts, as well as the application of tort and contract doctrines. Employment law is aimed to establish an economic relationship between the employer and employee. This employment relationship is more than the exchange of labor for money. It is expected that dignity, self-worth, satisfaction, and accomplishment are achieved in the U.S. society when someone is employed. Moreover, performance and rewards need to be awarded based on the employment responsibilities of the employee.

Employment laws have developed significantly over the last decades as they demonstrate the importance of work. Employees now have more legal rights, and employees are given the power to unionize, engage and be protected from discrimination based on race, gender, or disability. The rights and obligations of the employees and the employers are mediated through a contract of employment in almost every country. Some of the common employment terms that one needs to be familiar with include the following:

Minimum wage – This refers to the minimum amount that a worker can be paid per hour. Most first world countries have laws of this kind in place. In some countries, minimum wages are negotiated between the labor market parties through collective agreements. The agreements are made between non-organized employers and non-union workers. Usually, minimum wage rates are set by the government and are reviewed each year.

Living wage – The living wage is the term used for full-time workers, and is usually higher than the minimum wage. Living wage allows the full-time worker to support themselves and their family. The real living wage is independently calculated each year based on what employees and their families need to live.

Hours – The maximum number of hours worked per day or at other time intervals are set by law in many countries. In the earlier days, the maximum number of hours for certain jobs varied between 11 to 14 hours, but was gradually limited to 12 to 8 hours for some jobs.

Health and Safety – Employment laws also take the health and safety of the workers into consideration.

Discrimination – Anti-discrimination laws protect employees against discrimination. Acts of racial discrimination and gender discrimination against employees are considered morally unacceptable and illegal.

Dismissal – Unfair and wrongful dismissal of an employee without legitimate motive is not allowed under employment laws. The employee should be given the possibility to defend themselves before being fired.

Child Labor – There are laws for child labor which protect children's rights. Hard labor work such as mining, factory work, agriculture, quarrying, operating a small business and even helping parents in their business are all counted under child labor.

Employment law also has rules and regulations in place for holiday entitlement and pay, maternity and parental rights, equal pay, laws against age discrimination, disability discrimination, race discrimination, religion and belief discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, bullying and harassment, and managing redundancy effectively in the workplace.

Employers with a limited number of employees are not bound by rules and regulations defined under employment laws.

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