Knowing Your Rights as an Employee

When you’re in employment, it can feel as though you’re entirely dependent on what the higher-ups decide to do with you. You need the money, after all, and surely, you’re just a replaceable cog in the machine? Well, that might not be the case, as there are measures in place to stop you from being viewed in such a way and knowing what these are can help you to tackle your career with more confidence and knowledge.

Being protected in such a way can also help you to view your arrangement with your employer as being on a more equal footing, allowing you to understand what you need to work effectively.

Unfair Dismissal

One of the things that you’ll perhaps want to be safeguarded against the most is the idea that you can just be terminated from your employment at any stage. This is a frightening prospect indeed, as, if that were to happen, you would find yourself with no income and no way to support yourself. Fortunately, in many countries, there are laws in place to protect against this, and in the unlikely event that you do find yourself losing your job for no good reason, you can begin to conduct some research into legal help, such as is provided by professionals, like Baird Quinn.

However, it might also be useful for you to brush up on what exactly ‘wrongful’ termination entails, and how you can recognize it when you see it, giving you a greater insight as to how you can act accordingly.

Lunch Breaks

Unlike wrongful termination, you might find that the laws around lunch breaks are much more fluid depending on where you live. This is true of country-to-country but also state-to-state, meaning that you might want to do some specific digging on what the rules are in your state so that you know if your workplace is adhering to them. A lot of the time, you might find that the way any given company handles breaks is entirely up to them, so while some employers will be more generous in this regard, others might lean into the bare minimum. While frustrating, this won’t always be something that you can necessarily do something about. However, if you feel you aren’t being valued as an employee in this regard, it might be time to search for work elsewhere.

It’s also important to understand that meal breaks aren’t classified under the same bracket as other breaks, with the former being unpaid and often compulsory, and the latter being optional on the behalf of the employer, and usually included within your overall hours.

Overtime Pay

If you’re finding that you’re having to do a lot more work than was outlined in your contract, it might be worth thinking about if you’re being duly compensated. Overall, employees in the USA who work more than 40 hours in a week will need to be offered overtime pay, and this is something worth knowing so that your employers can’t take advantage of you and make you do more than you agreed to, without paying you in turn. 

Understandably, you might not want to rock the boat if you feel as though you’ve got a good thing going with your job, but it’s important to draw a line in the sand and be firm with your employer so that you get everything you deserve. That being said, it might also be a difficult situation where you aren’t fully aware of what counts as overtime and what doesn’t, and so you might not necessarily feel as though you’ve been wronged, but it helps to understand the facts so that you can take action accordingly.

Sick Leave

This is another topic that can be difficult to navigate, as it often arises during moments and times of distress. While there will inevitably be people who do try to take advantage of sick leave when it is offered, on the whole, people who are looking to use it will be generally doing so because of the state of their health. In the USA, sick leave is a topic that is not federally required, though the details of that vary depending on which state you’re living in. Some states will require employers to provide their staff with access to paid sick leave, while others do not, which might mean that you approach this time very differently depending on where you live. 

Even if you do find yourself living in an area where you don’t have access to paid sick leave, it’s important that you seriously consider your health before going to work. While you might still need the money and may well be more inclined to go to work regardless of your health, the question of how negatively impacted you will be is one worth asking. Furthermore, your presence in the workplace when ill could also negatively affect your colleagues if your condition is contagious.