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3 Frequently Overlooked Labor Laws Your Company Might Be Breaking

No company is perfect. We get it.

Some companies are very stunned to see an envelope containing a subpoena coming from an employee they have or they’ve had several months ago complaining about a blatant, deliberate abuse of the existing federal law governing work and labor. It’s definitely a “what in the world” kind of moment – especially when they have no idea what they’ve done wrong.

Things happen, we understand. We know that some employers innocently violate labor laws without even knowing it. After all, with over 180 prevailing labor laws in federal states, I wouldn’t be surprised if you happened to overlook one – or even five.

Still, just because you are “unknowing” doesn’t make you any less liable for a violation. If you’re an employer, it is your job to learn the law. It is your responsibility to fully understand what is in the provisions. And lastly, it is your job to know the legalities involved when running a company. No one is going to waive your violations just because you say you don’t know. Saying “Sorry, this wouldn’t happen again” is just being downright irresponsible. If forgiveness becomes a valid way to get out of things, we’d be putting our police officers, law enforcers, and law-abiding citizens to shame.

Sorry. But apologizing and saying you didn’t know about it isn’t going to get you anywhere. The only thing that you can do to avoid such embarrassing scenarios is to make the extra effort (if not, hire someone who knows better) to keep-to-date with labor law changes. If you refuse to do so, best put down the towel soon. If you won’t, someone else will definitely do it for you.

If you’re tired of paying damages and attorney’s fees, however, and ready to take on the challenge of learning more about DOL’s labor and employment laws, allow us to help you get off a good start.

And what better part to begin learning from than the ones often forgotten most?

In this article, let us tackle some of the most overlooked provisions found in the U.S. Labor Law. Compared to the usual cases such as harassment, discrimination, and wage violations, these five don’t garner as much attention. And this is also exactly why they should be considered more dangerous. After all, you can always prevent matters you are fully aware about from happening. However, you can’t do anything about the ones you’re not aware about – not until it’s too late.

I don’t know if any of that made sense (although I sure hope they did). Anyway, here we go:

Unpaid Wages

It could be a working holiday you forgot to pay double or some weekend work you forgot to keep tabs on. Either way, unpaid wages are a serious violation of an employee’s labor rights. And saying that you simply forgot or lost track of it wouldn’t help much when you’re faced with a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Labor. When the cause is justified and the matter has already escalated to higher court, you will surely suffer from many fees and penalties including (but not limited to) attorney’s fees and legal damages. The amount you’ll owe your forgone employee would be four, maybe five, times greater than the amount which was originally unpaid. And it’ll make you think: “Oh. If only I have paid better attention to my employees’ salaries instead of just earning more and more profit, I could have avoided this situation entirely!”

So unless you want to come to a point where you harbour this kind of regret, make sure that you include your employees’ welfare in your best interests!

Unpaid Overtime Work

With how advanced our time-tracking apparatuses are nowadays, the authorities will definitely find it easier to spot anomalies with how you compensate your employees’ hard work. There is no such thing as “free work.” In the modern world, work equality, fairness, and justice prevail above all. An hour worked should always be an hour paid. There really is no room for “Thank you” or “Good job” in the way things are. So if you think that you can get away with having employees work overtime and not having to pay for it, think again. The law can be a cruel, cruel nemesis.

To avoid incurring unnecessary costs that shouldn’t have even existed in the first place, see to it that you pay your employees right. Overtime work means extra stress and fatigue. On top of these, your employees also lose precious time which they could’ve spent for themselves or their families. Assuming that everything is okay just because you said “thank you” is the most insensitive thing you could do to your employees. Pay them right and they’ll pay you back five times the honesty and respect.

Letting Minors Work Past Curfew

Children below 18 are okay to work given that the time, place, and nature of work they are doing pass DOL standards. Minors are often allowed to work for a maximum of three (3) hours on school days and eight (8) hours on non-school days like legal and summer holidays. They are also prohibited from doing hazardous work like working on construction or mining sites, or any work that requires operating power tools. And no, saying that the minor talked you into letting him or her work the extra hours is no excuse. Tell me, who’s the adult again?

Anyway, you can definitely have minors work for you as long as you observe the specified requirements. Heck, you can even have minors work for you even when you violate these requirements – that is, as long as you don’t get caught. But really, if you knew the consequences, you wouldn’t even dare risk your business by violating child labor laws.

There are actually so many other laws, companies keep forgetting – intentionally or not. But talking about each and every one of them will probably result in a book, not an article. So for today, take careful note of these three. We’ll come back with more next time!

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