“Job prospects for the class of 2022 are higher than in recent years”, USA Today reports.
Employers intend to hire 31.6% more fresh grads this year than the year before, a hopeful new report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found.
If you’re about to graduate, it’s useful to understand the employment laws in place to protect you in the workplace.
Although employment laws vary between states and cities, most employers must comply with several federal laws nationwide.
The Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a key national employment policy, currently protects over 143 million workers.
It creates the right to minimum wage ($7.25 per hour nationally, while states, counties, and cities are also able to set their own minimum wage rates).
In Florida, for example, the minimum wage is $11, while Connecticut sets it at $14. The FLSA also sets an overtime pay rate of 1.5 times the worker’s regular wage for all additional hours beyond 40 hours in a seven-day period.
“This really applies to hourly workers as opposed to salaried workers”, explains Kimberly Phillips-Fein, professor of history at New York University. “For some recent grads who are not hourly workers, you don’t actually have that protection.”
Hourly workers get paid a fixed payment based on hours worked, whereas salaried employees earn a preset sum each pay period.
Additionally, the FLSA also requires employers to “keep a record of both employee time and pay as a way of making sure that your rights are respected,” Phillips-Fein explains.
Safety Laws in the Workplace
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must “provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers”.
This law ensures several key workers’ rights, such as providing employee training on workplace hazards and risks, along with OSHA regulations that must be complied with.
Workers’ compensation insurance is also a requirement for private employers in most states.
In 2020, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that there were as many as 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses.
If you sustain an injury on the job, workers’ compensation insurance can help you get the financial compensation you deserve (this covers medical bills and lost income).
In turn, as long as the accident or injury wasn’t intentionally caused by your employer, you forfeit the right to sue them.
Similarly, if you need to take leave from work for medical or family reasons, the Family and Medical Leave Act grants certain eligible employees a total of 12 weeks of “unpaid, job-protected leave” per year; a serious health condition (either yours or family members), or the birth of a child are covered reasons.
Entering the job market as a new graduate can naturally be daunting.
Fortunately, by familiarizing yourself with key U.S. employment laws, you can learn your rights and set yourself up for a successful career.