The national minimum wage law is a collection of rules that firmly restrict employers from hiring employees for less than the set hourly, monthly or daily minimum wages. The rule of minimum wage rate spread all over the globe after the Great Depression, which had taken a toll on most of the global economies. Notably, the minimum wage laws vary across industries and the nature of work that is done by individuals. In the United States different states apply different wage laws depending on the convenience and their modes of operation. Brux (p. 72) asserts that the sources of the employment law include the federal law, state law and the local law. These laws set various provisions about minimum wages for employees in various industries. Individual labor laws relate to the rights and obligations of individual employees while the collective labor laws relate to the operation of industrial relations and the activities of trade unions. Trade unions have the capacity to agitate for the strike of unionized workers in cases where there is an infringement on the agreed minimum wages for employees. Therefore, the employers are subjected to legal issues such as adherence to the terms and conditions of the contract under which the employees are supposed to be paid the minimum wages. The minimum wage law applies to different categories of employees according to their ages. The law provides that the older employees should get a higher minimum wage than the younger employees should. Abbott (2012 p 67) reports that the employment law ensures that there is an effective adherence to the principle of minimum wage in the country.
This essay explicates the contributions of the national minimum wage and other significant aspects related to the minimum wage laws.
Sources of Employment Law
The employment law originates from various sources, which give it the power to reinforce the principle of minimum wages for each employee. These various sources include the federal law, the state law and the local law.
The federal law is formed by the constitution of the United States of America. It has various statutes on employment that are determined by the Congress. Notably, the employment law of each state will differ basing on the beliefs of various citizens and the organs of the state. The statutes formed in each state will assert the kind of employees it applies to and the minimum wages applicable to each employee according to the age or the industry in which the employee works. The federal law is assertive and strict to the employment laws and has courts to deal with any employers who tend to breach these laws (Card & Krueger, 1997).
The state law is another significant source of employment law. The State law is provided by the state constitution, which ensures that the employment laws apply to each employee around the country. The regulations relating to the state laws originate from the agencies and ensure that every employee around the country is effectively covered according to the minimum wages. This source of employment laws asserts that employees have the choice of joining the trade unions in order to ensure that all their rights are safeguarded. More so, it ensures that employees who are employed by private institutions are safeguarded from mistreatment by their employers. It guarantees that such employees should work in proper working environments and earn the minimum wages that match their efforts.
Another significant source of the employment law is the local law. According to Cihon & Castagnera (2010, p 81), the local law emanates from the local charter and it applies to the county or parish codes. It is vital to note that different counties can adopt different laws, which ensure that employees are effectively protected according to the wages they are supposed to earn. The county law is limited by a given county and would be applied according to the practices of the county and the different rules existing within the county. The disputes relating to a breach of the employment law are handled through the agency process or subjected to courts under the federal law. Therefore, employers in different counties are supposed to ensure that they effectively respect these laws.
Key Principles of Individual and Collective Employment Law
Individual employment laws relate to the rights and obligations of individual employees within the country or the state. Individual employment laws govern the relationship between an individual employer and employee. It ensures that the rights of an employee are not infringed. Individual employment laws include such laws as the Equal pay act of 1970, race relations act of 1976 and the sex discrimination act of 1975.
Collins (2010, p 77) affirms that the key principle of the individual employment law is that the employer must adequately respect the individual contracts of employment. In most instances employees enter into contracts with their employers. Most of the employers tend to breach these contracts hence infringing on the minimum wage of the employees. The law provides that an employer must be ready to ensure that an employee works in a proper environment that is motivational and ensures successful working. The minimum wages stated in the contract and reinforced by the law must also be adhered to adequately in order to ensure that there is the adherence to all the labor laws. Employers must pay the keen attention to these labor laws and ensure that employees get their minimum wages as required by the contract and the law. The adherence to these laws would ensure effectiveness in the provision of services within the country.
Collective labor laws are those which relate to the activities of the trade unions and other industrial activities. These are commonly applicable to the unionized employees within the country. Trade unions will tend to agitate for the required minimum wages of employees and ensure that the government adheres to them. In line with collective labor laws, trade unions will agitate for the increment in minimum wages depending on the continuous changes within the economy.
The key principle of the collective employment laws is that minimum wages are adjustable depending on the changes in the economy. Employers, that is the government and private employers, have to ensure that they adjust the minimum wages according to changes in the economy. In cases, where there is a recession, minimum wages must be increased in order to ensure that employees improve their living standards. Eyraud et al. (2005, p 90) notes that the recession leads to poor living standards among most employees and this is the time that they need the increased minimum wage. In regards to this principle, the trade unions have the freedom to order their employees to engage in industrial actions such as strikes in case there is a feeling that they are likely to be subjected to poor living standards. Therefore, there should be adequate collaboration on the matter, as this would ensure the proper flow of work.
The adoption of minimum wages has played an instrumental role in improving the living standards of individuals all over the country. The minimum wages have made it easier for individuals to access the basic needs in society and carry out other relevant activities. The establishment of the minimum wages by the federal law, state law and the county law has ensured that employees earn according to their inputs into different activities at their areas of work. Employees have also been uplifted and they have been instrumental in contributing to the development of the country (Figart, 2002). The agitation for the minimum wages is worthy because it serves as an appreciation to employees and their different activities. Employees work with the required level of assurance that they will earn according to their efforts. This helps in reduction of court cases relating to poor employee remuneration and treatment at work.
The minimum wage rate set by the Federal Constitution and the State Constitution provides the employees with the zeal to improve their knowledge and skills on their places of work (Waltman, 2004). This law stipulates the minimum amount of salary the employees have to be paid as they are employed. However, these amounts are expected to increase as the employee improves his or her skills and knowledge. Most employees will go back to school to increase their competence. This helps to boost creativity and innovation in industries hence improving the quality and variety of goods produced. By improving their knowledge, the employees become diverse and are not fixed in the job market. This helps them to be more marketable in the job market. The economy is also improved through the innovation of these employees as they are motivated by the increase in their salaries.
The legal issues and the relevant legal principles
The legal issues that may arise concerning the minimum wage rates may be due to the employer paying the employees a salary that is lower than the skills and experience acquired. It may also be due to the employer paying a salary that is too low compared to work and efforts committed to the job. They are referred to as legal issues because employers can be sued in a court of law for the breach of contract. According to the law, the minimum wage rate gives the employees the authority to fight for their rights at their place of work. In case the employee is sued, he or she may ask the employer to pay the damages for the period in which the employee has been underpaid plus a fine (Neumark & Wascher, 2008). He may also be imprisoned for some time if he declines the payment of the real salary. In some extreme cases, the business may be declared bankrupt on the basis that it is not able to pay for the labor if the employer defaults payment for a long period of time. The employment law stipulates that employees have their rights, which must be strictly upheld by the employer to the latter. Industrial strikes may also arise in the event of unfair treatment from the employer. In this case, the employees are encouraged to send a representative to deliberate with the employer on their behalf.
It is also illegal for employees to overwork and for the employers to pay them an amount just above the minimum wage rate. This will be going against the legal rules, as it is the right of the employees to be given off-duty time to rest. In case of working for extra hours, the employee is supposed to be paid an extra amount. The employer is supposed to provide a conducive environment for the employees through the provision of protective devices, good air conditioning and provision of first aid kits in case of an emergency. Pollin (2008, p 76) asserts that the employer has the obligation of treating the employees fairly without harassment. In case of harassment on the working place for instance, ladies employees have the right to sue them in a court of law for violation of their rights. In most instances employees live with the threat of being fired after filling a case against their employers.
The impact of the employment law on the national minimum wage rate
Employment law as stated in the Federal and State Constitution on the minimum wage rate is a clause that has positively rationalized the income and reduced the poverty levels in the country. This law gives the lowest amount of salary an employee can earn depending on his or her qualification and the level of skills acquired. These minimum wages are set by various professional bodies. Starr (1981, p 87) reiterates the law stipulates that on employment the employer should not pay the employee a lesser amount of money than it was stated by the law as the starting salary. As the employee advances in education and experience, the employer is supposed to increase his salary. This minimum wage rate has its impact on the wage rate and the level of employment. As for the wage rate, the minimum employment wage rate sets the lowest amount of salary an employee is to be paid per hour. It has also increased the rate of employment, as people are encouraged to acquire more skills and knowledge to begin with a higher basic salary. If an employee does not adhere to these laws, the employer has the right to sue him in a court of law. The employee sues the employer based on the breach of contract while the employer can receive a remedy in the form of damages.
This law is applied in the whole country hence it facilitates the free flow of labor throughout the country. This is because most employees would prefer to be employed in a place where he is paid a higher starting salary. This has facilitated equality and reduced the level of unemployment in the country. Since some people are willing to quit their jobs because of the low salary compared to their skills and level of work. This law has helped to improve the living standards of people and improved their purchasing power because the minimum wage has been formulated to accommodate an average person to cater for his basic needs and afford some comfort. The employment law binds all the employees and employers to abide by the rules and regulations. This helps the minimum wage rate to be enforced without failure or delay. It has also helped the employees to know their rights uniformly in the country. The employment law strives to improve justice and fairness on the side of the employees. Through the objective of facilitating fairness and justice, the minimum wage has been enhanced all over the country. In conclusion, the employment law has facilitated the enforcement of the minimum wage rate through the enforceability of the laws in a court of law.
In conclusion, the national minimum wage law is a set of rules that firmly restrict employers from hiring employees for less than the set hourly, daily or monthly minimum wages. The rule of minimum wage rate spread all over the globe after the Great Depression, which had taken its toll on most global economies. The principle of minimum wage rates varies across different states and counties depending on their laws. These laws set various provisions about minimum wages for employees in various industries. Individual labor laws relate to the rights and obligations of individual employees while the collective labor laws relate to the operation of industrial relations and activities of trade unions. Trade unions have the capacity to agitate for strike of unionized workers in cases when there is an infringement on the agreed minimum wages for employees. Therefore, employers are subjected to legal issues such as adherence to the terms and conditions of the contract under which employees are supposed to be paid the minimum wages. Employers should always adhere to the rules and principles of minimum wages to ensure smooth provision of services. The government should also reinforce the work of the trade unions in attempt to improve the living standards of employees through the quality of minimum wages.