3 Ways to Understand Workplace Rights

1. Read the Employee Handbook

When you started working for the company, you should have received an employee handbook. If not, you can contact the HR department for a new copy of the handbook. The company must follow state and federal laws for workplace rights and explains how it does so in the employee handbook. If you don’t understand the language of any part of the handbook, the HR department should explain the company’s policy to you. You can also read the policy and procedure manual kept by the company. If you have a workplace rights situation or possible violation, follow the methods set up in your company’s employee handbook and/or policy and procedure manual to file a formal complaint.

2. Check State Worker’s Rights

State laws require your company to post workplace rights in a place that is clearly visible and accessible. You’ll often find the statement of rights on a poster in the break room and/or the HR office. State laws cover minimum wages, child labor, maximum work hours, pregnancy and illness leave and other issues. Workplace rights vary widely from one state to another, and some states grant more rights for workers than the federal laws provide. You can learn what you’re entitled to by checking your state’s workplace rights website.

3. Understand Federal Rights Law

Federal workplace laws must be posted somewhere in your company’s building, in a visible location, such as a break room or locker room. Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on age, disabilities, ethnicity and gender. COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, makes health insurance available through the employer for employees no longer working at the company or receiving a reduction in hours. You will have to pay the entire medical insurance premium, but you shouldn’t lose medical insurance for up to 18 months. The Fair Labor Standards Act covers everything from minimum wages to child labor standards across all industries. ERISA covers the laws regarding retirement and benefit plans. The Family Leave Act allows qualified workers to take up to 12 weeks off from work on an unpaid leave of absence without fear of losing their jobs. The leave must be for the birth of a child, adoption/foster care arrangements or the serious illness of an immediate family member or yourself.