In order to understand why your business is required to comply with labor laws, you first need to know what labor law is and how it affects your business. The definition of law is “the system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties.” Labor laws are enacted to protect the rights, health and financial remuneration of workers.
What is Labor Law and how is it enforced?
Labor Laws give structure to the workplace and defines employers and employees responsibilities. Some statutes and regulations require that posters or notices be posted in the workplace. These postings are mandated state and federal law notices that employers with at least one employee or more are required to conspicuously post in an area frequented by all employees. Not all employers are covered by each of the federal or state statutes and thus may not be required to post a specific notice. State laws vary from state to state. Just as there are consequences for breaking the law, there could be penalties and fines if a labor law is broken. The US Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces the federal laws. Every state has a department or agency responsible for administering state specific laws.
When and how do Labor Laws change?
There is not a set date for federal or Labor Law revisions or updates that apply to your business to be made. Labor Laws change throughout the year and state laws generally update more often than the federal labor laws. The past few years have seen a large increase in the number of changes. In 2019 more than 50 changes were made that impacted employees. As of January 1, 2020, more than two dozen laws were slated to take effect. Some issues most likely to be addressed in 2020 will be Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Paid Family Leave and Minimum Wage. Many times, a law is passed in one year, and will be required to be enforced a year or two later. This allows the state or federal agency time to put policies and procedures in place that are needed to enforce the law. Labor law posters must be updated and replaced whenever the new or revised law goes into effect.
What happens when State Laws and Federal Laws are different?
Employers are required to follow both federal law and applicable state laws. Sometimes different government agencies enact laws regarding the same issues or situations. Some examples where this has occurred include minimum wage, paid family leave, and discrimination laws. The U.S. Department of Labor instructs employers and employees to follow the law that provides the most protection. For instance, the federal minimum wage in 2020 is $7.25 per hour yet many states, cities, and counties have a higher minimum wage rate. When the state, city or county minimum wage rate is higher than the federal rate, employers are required to pay workers the higher amount.
Who enforces Labor Laws?
While governmental agencies typically do not inspect for just Labor Law posting infractions, that doesn’t mean fines are not assessed. Most often fines are assessed when a business is being inspected or investigated for other reasons. At such times, the on-site agency will check to see if the required postings are posted as part of their investigation.
Labor Law compliance can be difficult to understand at times. As an employer, you need to be aware of the requirements that apply to your company. It is important to be aware of changes and updates and inform your employees. For more information, please look at our FAQ page.