California Employee Rights

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This Handbook provides an overview of federal laws addressing employer-employee rights and obligations. Information discussed includes wages & hours, discrimination, termination of employment, pension plans and retirement benefits, workplace safety, workers’ compensation, unions, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and much more in 25 pages of materials.

Labour law (also called labor law or employment law) is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations. As such, it mediates many aspects of the relationship between trade unions, employers and employees. In Canada, employment laws related to unionized workplaces are differentiated from those relating to particular individuals. In most countries however, no such distinction is made. However, there are two broad categories of labour law. First, collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, employer and union. Second, individual labour law concerns employees’ rights at work and through the contract for work. The labour movement has been instrumental in the enacting of laws protecting labour rights in the 19th and 20th centuries. Labour rights have been integral to the social and economic development since the Industrial Revolution. Employment standards are social norms (in some cases also technical standards) for the minimum socially acceptable conditions under which employees or contractors will work. Government agencies (such as the former U.S. Employment Standards Administration) enforce employment standards codified by labour law (legislative, regulatory, or judicial).

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Labour law arose due to the demand for workers to have better conditions, the right to organize, or, alternatively, the right to work without joining a labour union, and the simultaneous demands of employers to restrict the powers of workers’ many organizations and to keep labour costs low. Employers’ costs can increase due to workers organizing to achieve higher wages, or by laws imposing costly requirements, such as health and safety or restrictions on their free choice of whom to hire. Workers’ organizations, such as trade unions, can also transcend purely industrial disputes, and gain political power. The state of labour law at any one time is therefore both the product of, and a component of, struggles between different interests in society.

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