Comparing Labor Law in Different Countries
In this lesson, you’re expected to learn about:
– labor laws in the U.S.
– employment law in the U.K.
– labor law in the EU
Individuals who are employed in the United States are protected by a variety of employment, or labor, laws. Enforced by the United States Department of Labor, these regulations give workers a multitude of rights and security within a workplace. The goal of these laws is to foster a safe and healthy working environment.
Employers who violate labor laws face stiff penalties, including fines, suspension or loss of a license needed to conduct business and, in extreme cases, imprisonment.
Major Laws of the US Department of Labor
The Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws. These mandates and the regulations that implement them cover many workplace activities for both employers and workers.
Below is a brief description of some of DOL’s principal statutes most commonly applicable to businesses, job seekers, workers, retirees, contractors and grantees.
1) Wages & Hours
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prescribes standards for wages and overtime pay, which affect most private and public employment. It requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one and a half times the regular rate of pay.
2) Workplace Safety & Health
Under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, employers covered by the OSH act must comply with the regulations and safety and health standards promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers also have a duty to provide their employees with work and a workplace free from serious hazards.
The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) establishes a comprehensive and exclusive workers’ compensation program, which pays compensation for the disability or death of a federal employee resulting from personal injury sustained while in the performance of duty.
4) Employee Benefit Security
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates employers who offer pension or welfare benefit plans for their employees. It imposes a range of fiduciary, disclosure and reporting requirements on fiduciaries of pension and welfare benefit plans.
Employers within the UK can choose the legal system they wish to govern employment agreements. However, if no choice of law designation has been made in the employment agreement, the law of the country in which the employee is located will typically apply.
Additionally, pursuant to the Employment Rights Act of 1996, all employees in the UK are entitled to receive, within two months of hire, a written statement from their employer setting forth the terms and conditions of the employment.
The National Minimum Wage Act of 1998 sets forth the minimum pay per hour almost all workers within the UK are entitled to by law. An employee’s standard numbers of working hours are the hours set forth in the employee’s particular employment contract.
Typically, adult employees may not be required to work in excess of 48 hours per week. Employers are not required to pay workers for overtime for hours worked in excess of that set forth in the employment contract but, the employees’ average pay for the total hours worked may not fall below the national minimum wage.
Pursuant to the Working Time Regulations of 1998, almost all employees in the UK are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday time per year (known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave).
Part-time workers are entitled to a proportionate amount of holiday pay based upon the 5.6 weeks for full-time employees.
The primary legislation prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the UK is the Equality Act 2010. The law, which follows three major European Union Directives, strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment based upon a wide array of protected characteristics such as age, disability, sex, race, ethnicity, and religion.
• Working conditions: working hours, part-time & fixed-term work, posting of workers.
• Informing & consulting workers about collective redundancies, transfers of companies etc.
• achieve high employment & strong social protection
• improve living & working conditions
• protect social cohesion
• health and safety at work: general rights and obligations, workplaces, work equipment, specific risks and vulnerable workers.
• equal opportunities for women and men: equal treatment at work, pregnancy, maternity leave, parental leave.
• protection against discrimination based on sex, race, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation.
• labor law: part-time work, fixed-term contracts, working hours, employment of young people, informing and consulting employees.