It is important that employees understand their rights in the workplace, not only in terms of their specific employers, but also in a fundamental legal sense. Far too often companies fail to meet basic requirements, and employees should be prepared to recognize failure to meet their rights in order to correct the wrongs.
A recent article in U.S. News Money cites eight workplace rights your employer might not tell you about.
- 1. Your employer can’t withhold your paycheck for poor performance. No matter how awful your performance may be, an employer never has the right to dock your salary.
- 2. You must receive your paycheck promptly. Most state laws outline how soon a paycheck must be received following the pay period, and there is often a penalty companies must pay for failing to meet the timeframe.
- 3. Whether you’re eligible for overtime pay isn’t up to your employer; the government decides. Whether your job is considered “exempt” or “non-exempt” is not the choice of your employer; it is designated by the government. If your job is considered “non-exempt,” you must be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 per week. Don’t let your employer fool you into thinking it’s his or her decision whether you’re paid for overtime.
- 4. Your employer cannot ask, require, or even allow you to work off the clock. As a non-exempt employee, you must be paid for all time worked, no matter what.
- 5. Your employer can’t stop you from discussing your salary with your co-workers. Many employers discourage or even prohibit their employees from discussing salary with co-workers. However, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) says that employers legally cannot prevent employees from discussing wages. Policies prohibiting such discussion are against the law.
- 6. Similarly, your employer can’t stop you from discussing your working conditions with your co-workers. Policies prohibiting employees from discussing their working conditions are unlawful. This is another situation where employees are protected by NLRA; employees wouldn’t be able to organize if they were prohibited from talking with each other about important workplace issues.
- 7. Promises made in your employee handbook are often binding. In many previous cases, courts have ruled that promises included in employee handbooks are, in fact, legally binding. Your employer will likely be legally required to uphold the assurances it makes in the handbook.
- 8. Your employer can’t pay you as a contractor while treating you like an employee. If you are required to work at a certain place, certain time, and in a certain way as determined by your employer, you are an employee, and should be paid and offered benefits like one. Don’t let your employer pay you like a contractor when you’re working like an employee.