More often than not, a lot of business owners are so focused on developing their businesses that they neglect or fail to educate themselves about all the legal aspects involved in running them successfully.
The most common scenario is a business owner failing to obtain a proper license or permit because they didn’t know those were needed in the first place. They learn their lesson through hefty fines.
That said, business owners have responsibilities towards both their company and their employees. Yes, employee rights are something no business owner should take lightly.
Just like you have legal obligations towards your company, you have legal obligations towards your employees. There are laws that protect employee rights, and as a business owner, you have to be aware of them. With that in mind, here are a few things every business owner needs to know regarding employee rights.
Safe workspace rights
Employees have the right to a safe work environment and conditions. Occupational Safety and Health Act passed back in 1970 states that employees have the right to be free from exposure to toxic chemicals and materials, dangerous machinery, and so on in their work environment.
Business owners are obliged to locate and remove potential safety and health hazards at the workplace. If that’s not possible, business owners are obligated to inform employees about these hazards, as well as provide training and education in handling dangerous materials or equipment, including providing them with proper safety utensils.
Fair wages right
Every employee has the right to be paid fairly for the work they do. Every employee must be paid at least the amount of the predetermined federal minimum wage. Of course, how much you pay your employees depends on the type of work they do and whether or not they are exempt from overtime.
The best way to clarify how much you will pay your employees should be conducted under a legally binding contract.
If you don’t know how to do this, you can consult with a professional lawyer in Novi Sad to help you draft such documents. If you pay your employees fairly, you won’t have to worry about any lawsuits being filed against you because of negligence.
Freedom from discrimination right
It’s illegal for employers or coworkers to discriminate against an employee based on race, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, nationality or anything else for that matter. Every employee should know this because if you discriminate against employees in any way, they can file a lawsuit against you.
Another thing employers must pay special attention to is sexual harassment at the workplace. Business owners are obligated to prevent sexual harassment acts, as well as encourage employees to come forward and report any unwanted behavior from their coworkers. Moreover, business owners are also obligated to investigate any claims of sexual harassment and deal with the issue accordingly and promptly.
Freedom from retaliation right
Employees are protected by law from any retaliation should they report business owners for misconduct or for breaking any policies, such as violating workplace safety or discriminating against employees. Employees are, therefore, free from any fear of retribution should they decide to testify against their employers.
Business owners should know this because should you fire a “whistleblower” or retaliate against them in any way for reporting your, you’ll have even more legal trouble on your hands. Even if it turns out that the allegations against you were false, you cannot fire an employee who reported you for as long as they’re under the contract of employment.
Every employee has many rights that protect their well-being and job security. Business owners must be well-aware of these rights so that they don’t wrong their employees in any way. If you’re not informed about employee rights, you may do something against them by accident and face legal charges because of it.