Employment or labor laws have been developed to facilitate smooth relationship between employers and employees. Employment laws provide rules and regulations that should govern both the employer and the employees in their places of work. Employment laws discuss issues related to child labor, wages and salaries, retirement, working conditions, compensations, incentives and employment benefits among others. The major objective is to ensure the employer does not exploit the employee and on the other hand, the employee honors the terms and conditions of the job as presented by the employer.
In Lieberman verses Business Development Bank of Canada the employees felt that the bank had breached its fiduciary duty by awarding retirement benefits to the active members only. The pension plan had been amended by the employer and therefore the employees felt that the employer was not entitled to do this. The court held that an employee is both a sponsor and administrator of any plan under the employment. Posner (1995) observes that the employer is not prevented from amending or terminating the plan under any circumstances. However, since the amendment will affect the employees it is important for the employee to act in good faith as a duty but not as a fiduciary duty.
The labor laws require that the employer provides incentives, allowances, compensation and other benefits in addition to wages or the salary. Incentives are offered to exemplary performance of an employee or the organization at large. The employment law requires that when an organization has made great profit it should also give bonuses to its employees. Allowances can be provided as housing allowances, medical or health allowances or transport allowances among others. Allowances are usually given to employees who are on permanent basis of employment. Employment laws do not provide for a fixed rate on allowances, but the amount should cover actual amount incurred by an employee on the expense.
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The case of Mckee verses Reids Heritage Homes is a good illustration on the issues related to employment law. McKee was a 64 year old sales manager in her own incorporated business Nu Home Consulting Services. Through this business McKee sold some houses on behalf of Reids Heritage Homes, the defendant. Later on McKee entered into a sale and advertising agreement with Reids Heritage Homes on behalf of Nu Home Consulting Services. In this agreement Reids Heritage homes was to supply sixty nine homes for Nu home Consulting Services to sell for a fixed commission.
Reids Heritage Homes continued to supply Nu Home Consulting Services with the houses for sale but a third party performed the advertisement. Reids Heritage Homes made McKee the Sales Manager and as the business expanded McKee hired sales agents to assist her. Reids Heritage Homes was paying commission to Nu Home Consulting Services on the number of houses it sold. Nu home used some of the commission to pay the sales agents. Reids Heritage homes later hired a new Corporate Sales Manager and took McKee and the sales agents as mere employees. The Corporate Sales Manager was to give McKee one hundred houses to sell but he failed to honor the agreement. The Corporate Sales manager offered a standard employment contract to McKee but she denied the offer and claimed wrongful dismissal.
The main issue was whether McKee was an employee thus entitled to damages for wrongful dismissal or an independent contractor. The court held that McKee was an employee of Reirds Heritage Homes and not an independent contractor. The judge was concerned with the degree of the relationship between an employer and an employee. The main area of duties for Reids Heritage Homes was to sell houses and McKee totally engaged herself in this. Therefore, the Court concluded that McKee was an employee of Reirds Heritage Homes and was entitled to notice of employment termination and damages thereof.
In relation to labor laws, the case explains the required conduct between the employer and the employee during work termination. The employer is required by law to provide the employee with a letter or notice of termination before the actual date. Keating (p. 258) states that the labor laws require the employer to pay the employee the employment benefits based on the number of years of service and the kind of work. In many cases benefits are awarded to employees under both casual and permanent basis. The employer should ensure that the employers are awarded their rightful amounts since it is much left at the discretion of the employer. Therefore, McKee was entitled to a notice of termination and service or employment benefits.
The case of Hammer verses Dagenhart illustrates labor laws related to child labor. Hammer prohibited trading of products created by a child which was done through shipment. In addition, taxation was not to be done on profits made by factories and mines that employed children. The justice held that such taxation was a threat to the sovereignty of a state because it was a regulatory and for purposes of revenue. The law provides that children should not be engaged in work for employment purposes. The labor law recognizes a child as any person under the age of eighteen. An employer is not allowed to provide an employment to a child, that is, to a person under the age of eighteen Wood (1968).
Time-offs can also be granted due to sickness as provided by the labor laws. The labor laws provide that employers should be strict and serious on issues related to time-offs because employees may have a tendency of lying. The employees should provide the employer with proof of sickness such as medical certificates. The employer is responsible of measuring the credibility of this information before granting sick leave. Under the labor law, sickness leaves are paid for unless otherwise because much of this is left at the discretion of the employer.
The employment laws address issues related to time-off. The most recent development in employment law is to provide paternity leave to male employees who become fathers. In the earlier times only maternity leave was granted to female employees who become mothers. Therefore, as provided by the labor laws both parents are supposed to go for leave in case of parenthood. The labor law requires this kind of leave to be payable, which is, an employee on either paternity or maternity leave should still be considered to be on the payroll. In many circumstances, the labor law requires a longer period on maternity leave than on paternity leave. In addition, the leave periods vary from one country to another. However, many countries are still having this labor law on paternity leave as a draft until it is enforceable.
The case of Simcoe (county) verses OPSEU addresses the issue of employees rights related to their safety in work places. In this case David Rogers had been employed as a paramedic by the County of Simcoe. David was diagnosed with an ailment that interfered with his visual acuity and as a result of this he was unable to hold a Class F License as a minimum requirement for paramedic. David requested to work as an attendant paramedic but the Ministry of Transportation declined to the request. David filed for a suit claiming that County of Simcoe denied providing him with an accommodative workplace (Blalkle, p. 5).
The court held that the requirement was important for the beneficial purposes of the safety of the patients and the public. However, the requirement was not reasonably necessary for purposes of achieving safety. The court passed a rule as part of labor law, that an employee's human rights will not supersede an employer's right to adopt a mandatory requirement for the safety and health of workers and the public. The employer is entitled to provide certain job requirements to all of its employees and it is a mandatory duty of the employees to ensure that they meet such job requirements.
The case of Nursing Care Management verses Ohio Civil Rights Commission addresses the Labor law on parenthood leaves available to employees, that is, paternity and maternity leaves. In this case Pataskala Oaks Care Center provided twelve weeks leave for employees who had worked for a minimum of one year. Tiffany MCfee an employee at Pataskala Oaks Care Center had worked for a period of eight months until her doctor requested for a sick-off for Tiffany because of swelling due to her pregnancy and that she could be allowed to resume duties after six weeks of delivery. Later Pataskala Oaks Care Center terminated her employment after three days of her delivery since she was not qualified under the provisions of Pataskala policy. The court held that this was unlawful termination.
Pataskala Oaks had unlawfully terminated Tiffany's job based on sex discrimination, since Tiffany was lawfully entitled to a reasonable maternity leave that Pataskala failed to grant. The labor law provides that where there is insufficient or no maternity leave available from an employer, termination of employment based on disability to perform due to pregnancy will constitute unlawful sex discrimination. Therefore, there was no maternity leave for Tiffany at the time of her disability to work (Jan 2010). If an employee requests for a maternity or paternity leave it must be granted and she or he is entitled to re-absorption after the leave period is over. The employee should still be handled like any other employee.
There are also regulations related to Additional Paternity Leave (APL) which entitle eligible employees to take up to twenty-six weeks leave if the mother or adopter fails to recover in full during her leave period. In cases of same-sex marriages, the mother partner or the adopter is the one entitled to the paternity leave. The adopter or the father must have worked for twenty-six weeks continuously before the expected week of birth of the child. If the Additional Paternity Leave is taken during the statutory paid leave for the mother or the partner, it will be paid. The same standard rate for statutory maternity pay applies to the statutory paternity.
The employment laws also address the issue related to workplace privacy and surveillance. It is important to note that employees have a right of privacy, for themselves and information they can provide. In the case of State farm verses Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the State Farm hired a private investigator to survey the plaintiff who claimed that he had been injured by a motor vehicle of State Farm driven by its insured driver. The State Farm did not disclose the material as required by PIPEDA and the plaintiff claimed that State Farm violated the requirement of PIPEDA.
The employees may be required to provide only their personal basic information such as date of birth, gender and their names. The employer should not be coercive in requiring information that employees feel that it is very personal to them. The information acquired can only be used to within the premises of the employer and only for the purposes for which it was acquired for. The employer should also show a level of concern on what are employees' feelings towards surveillance.
There are other time-offs allowed by labor laws that are available for employees. These time offs may be required by the employee for training purposes and in cases of sickness. However, to be eligible for time-off for training an employee should have worked for a minimum period of twenty six weeks for the same employer. Section 63F(7) of the Employment Rights Act, 1996 provide reasons related to the business that can make the employer refuse to honor an employee's request for time-off to train. In addition, if the employer refuses an application for time-off to train, an employee can submit a claim before an Employment Tribunal (Erling and Lamm, p.57).
Another issue related to employment law is retirement age. The case of Western Airlines verses Criswell set out guidelines for defending an age limit. Western airlines required its employees to retire at the age of sixty years. This retirement age applied to employees of the flight crew and not to employees who operated flight controls. The major reason behind this was for Western Airlines to ensure safety of its clients. The Supreme Court disagreed on this goal holding that age limit is not a reasonable factor to influence safety and that the retirement age should apply to all employees (Gregory 2001). The Labor law ensures that there is no discrimination between the retirement ages of individuals holding different position within the same workplaces under the same employer.
The Employment law stipulates retirement age of sixty five years. However, this varies from one country to another. The retirement age should be uniformed to all employees regardless of their experiences and position. After retirement employment regulations bodies require the employer to pay the retiree his service benefits and thereafter monthly pension. Some private employers are very reluctant on this though it is a legal requirement.
Zurich American Insurance Co. v. Beneficiary of Troy McVey case illustrates employment law related to compensation of workers. This is one of the cases where the court of law has to consider the 'come and going' rule. Troy McVey was an operations manager of TruGreen Landcare Company. The company provided Troy with a truck so that he could easily travel to other places of work for supervision on other workers. Troy would use the tuck to travel from his home to TrueGreen and then to other sites.
On one particular day, TrueGreen required Troy to attend a company leadership conference in Houston and would travel using the truck. He had decided that he would pick one of his co-workers who happened to live along the route to Houston. On his way to pick the co-worker Troy was involved in a fatal crash. Following this the insurance company refused to compensate Troy on the basis that though he was travelling to work Troy decision to pick the co-worker was not within scope of his employment duties.
This is where the issue of 'come and going' rises when dealing with workers' compensation which provides an exception to workers compensation. Injuries sustained while one is travelling to work are covered except in cases where transportation is fully paid for by the employer. In this case, TrueGreen had provided Troy with a truck for travelling, but still there is need to show that the employee was acting within the scope of his duties. Since Troy was to go for employment duties that is, the conference for consecutive days, the 'come and going' rule did not apply, hence he was compensated.
According to the employment law employees should be compensated for injuries caused in relation to the line of their work. The employee may be within the working premises of the employer. While without the premises, it is upon the employer's duty to know whether the employee suffered was injured when offering services for the employer. The employer should make procedures related to injuries and compensation well known to the employees. The employer should tackle compensation as one of his duties and therefore compensation should be made promptly and for the right amount.
Employment or labor laws are enforceable by any employer and are there to be followed strictly. Generally the labor laws are there to guide employers when handling issues related to employment. Even when applying a labor law to make a rational decision, an employer is supposed to analyze the issue at hand. Employees' rights should be safeguarded and employees should not exploit their rights. The employers should ensure employees also respect the workplace requirements and conditions. Employers' job requirements should be based on the overall employment laws in consideration of the employees.