Compliance with labor laws offers benefits to society as a whole, both on the interpersonal and financial levels. Laws and regulations that affect employees and employers are passed by the federal government, state governments and even local governments. Executive orders are mandated from the executive branch.
Compliance with these labor laws is enforced through the courts. The role of human resources professionals are to be knowledgeable about all legal requirements that affect the workforce, wherever the company has locations. Incomplete knowledge can lead to lawsuits, union actions, poor morale, negative public relations, turnover, unenforceable policies, loss of productivity and removal from your human resources position.
Protection of the Employee
In the United States, most employees and employers operate under what is known as a “master-servant relationship”. The employee, the servant, is hired to perform duties under supervision and for the good of the employer, who is the master. Employers, without checks and balances, sometimes abuse their power. Laws are designed to protect employees on the job and to give employees rights, as well as responsibilities.
Protection of the Employer.
Employers need laws to protect the employer’s right to productivity and, therefore, profits, in order to remain competitive in the marketplace. Therefore, they have the right to hire who they deem qualified and expect employees to show up on time, work safely and productively.
A job applicant has rights prior to being hired as an employee. Those rights include the right to be free from discrimination based on age, gender, race, disability, national origin or religion during the hiring process. All employees have basic rights in the workplace, including the right to fair compensation, freedom from discrimination, privacy and a safe work environment.
Employees’ responsibilities include loyalty to the employer, behaving ethically in the performance of duties and following the company handbook and/or company policies. Most companies have or should have a code of conduct
This should be posted in work areas, along with the mission and vision statements, to educate the staff about expectations.
Managers rely on human resources professionals to guide them in all areas of employee supervision. Providing employee relations education will make managers better in their roles. Continuing education, through workshops, required reading, online courses and role playing will motivate managers to develop their skills. The biggest causes of lawsuits are the inappropriate actions of supervisors due to lack of knowledge or deliberate discriminatory actions based on perceived power. Don’t wait until you receive the EEOC charge of discrimination form to train your managers!
Culture consists of group norms of behavior and the underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place. It is set by the founders of the company and passed down.
Culture can change through the formal process of organizational development or a powerful person at the top, or a large enough group from anywhere in the organization, decides the old ways are not working any more, determines a new vision, starts acting differently, and encourages others to act differently. If the new actions produce better results in the organization, the workers will be encouraged to adopt this new behavior. In order to measure better results, metrics such as employee complaints, injuries on the job and turnover are tracked and report to top management.