Your responsibilities to your employees under the law go beyond making sure you are paying them correctly; a myriad of regulations govern the ongoing employer/employee relationship.In the first installment in this four-part series, we touched on the importance of ensuring the pre-employment application, interview and screening processes were handled in compliance with state and federal regulations. In the series’ second blog post, we introduced some of the key requirements employers need to be mindful of starting on an employee’s first day, including wage and hour laws, breaks and more.
In this third installment, we will introduce some of the laws that govern time off and leaves of absence, as well as workplace safety requirements. As with the laws previously introduced in this series, these regulations are designed to protect employees by establishing minimum standards.
Laws that Regulate Employee Time Off and Leaves of Absence
Employers need to be aware of both federal and state-specific laws surrounding giving employees time off from work in various circumstances.
Federal Time Off Laws
Federally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA) says that covered employers must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a new baby, to care for a family member or foster child, or for the employee’s own medical leave. Many states have enacted their own legislation to expand the FLMA requirements, either expanding who is eligible for time off or expanding the length of time an employee may take in a 12-month period.
Federal law provides that employees who have jury duty cannot be penalized for missing work, however employers are not required to provide compensation. However, several states have enacted legislation requiring time off for jury duty to be paid.
Finally, federal law also requires employers to give employees time away from work for military service, including inactive training drills.
State-Specific Time Off Laws
Several states have also enacted additional laws requiring employers to give workers time off, as follows:
- Voting – Federal law does not give workers the right to take time off work to vote in federal, state or local elections. However, state laws in many states do provide this right.
In NY, workers who don’t have four hours before their scheduled shift when the polls are open, or four hours after the end of their shift, may take up to two paid hours off to vote. NY employers must notify employees of this right ahead of time.
Similarly, MN law requires employers to pay employees for the time needed to vote, if it is within the scheduled workday. Employers are prohibited from requiring employees to use up personal leave or vacation time for this purpose.
In other places though, including FL and DC, there are no state-wide laws requiring employers to give their employees time off to vote, although there may be city ordinances that provide that right.
- Paid Family Leave – Three states (CA, NJ and RI) currently require employers to provide paid family leave, but New York has a similar law scheduled to go into effect on 1/1/18.
- Paid Sick Leave – CT, CA, MA, OR and VT currently have laws requiring employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave.
- School/Parental Leave – A few states also have laws on the books requiring employers to give workers paid time off to attend school functions and activities for their children.
For example, IL employers must give workers at least 8 hours off per year. MN says workers are allowed to have at least 16 hours off per year to attend children’s functions.
A Word About Workplace Safety Regulations
Employers are responsible for ensuring workers are safe on the job. The primary framework for workplace safety laws in the U.S. is covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA.) OSHA has jurisdiction over almost every worker in the U.S., with a few exceptions.
In addition to the federal requirements, 26 states have adopted state-specific OSHA regulations. It is important to note that not all provisions of OSHA’s laws will affect every employer. Employers can use this resource as a starting point to determine their obligations.
Know Your Obligations
Employers should take steps to understand all of the federal, state and local laws that affect their businesses, in every state where they have operations. The information in this blog post represents a sampling of those laws, but is not intended to be an exhaustive list or discussion.
In the fourth and final installment in this series, we will explore what “at will” employment means in various states, and we’ll highlight some common errors to avoid when terminating employees.
ICS is a leading staffing agency for permanent, temporary, and contract workers in the New York, Washington, D.C., Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, and Denver metropolitan areas. As an established leader in the employment and staffing industry, we have gained valuable insights into the legal framework our clients operate under. While we can’t provide employers with specific legal advice, we’ll apply those insights to your hiring needs and practices, to help you ensure your hiring activities are in compliance with all applicable regulations.
More than just an employment firm, ICS can help you stay in compliance by sourcing, screening, and placing qualified candidates, and providing employer of record payroll services when needed. To learn more, contact us online today.