Employment law also referred to as labor law governs the relationship between an employer and employee or unions and employers. It usually states the rights of the employee embedded in the employment contract. Employment law is integral in social and economic development in any country. It is instrumental in determining the wage, working hours, benefits, safety and health, anti-discrimination and employment termination conditions.
The similarity of the employment contract in any country is that it states rights and obligations of the worker and the employer. At the time of hiring, the employee should be provided with a written document of the essential terms, of which he must give consent. The contract states the minimum wage that the worker will be paid per hour. The worker will consent to the wages if they are enough for him. Minimum wages vary from one country to another and also from one job to another (Courtney 2007). The employers cannot pay the employees a wage less than the minimum wage in a country, but he can pay him an amount more than it according to the tasks performed at the work place. Minimum wage laws are usually a result of bargaining between the unions and employers and are usually at par with the economic development and living costs in a country.
Another issue governed by the employment contract; is working hours. The terms and conditions of the contract will state the working hours of the employee. In the modern world, where different issues require the attention of the employee some organizations have embraced flextime. Flextime is that the employee can work at times he is comfortable. The working hours will be stated, and other issues like overtime addressed in the employment contract. The employee will be paid for all the overtime he works. During the industrial revolution days, working days had about 16-15 hours a day. Legislation has reduced it to 14 hours and today the working day is normally between 8 to 9 hours a day. After the normal working hours are finished, the extra hours worked by the employee are considered overtime and the employer must compensate him accordingly.
It also governs the health and safety of the worker at the working place. The employer should make the working place as safe as possible. The act states the standards to which the employer must adhere to ensuring the safety of the worker. Employees also have a right to be insured against harm to him in the course of work. The factory safety act requires employers to make the working environment as safe as possible. He should also ensure proper ventilation, proper fire exits and fire fighting equipments, clean environment and access to facilities at the work place. Various legislations to ensure proper health of the workers, and safety in their work places such as in mines and the general work environment have been initiated to protect the worker.
It also states the leaves from work that the employee will have. The contract states the number of times the employee can access the leaves in a year. The worker may take a maternity leave of which will last for the time agreed with the employer. Other workers may access the leaves once or twice a year as embedded in the employment contract. The types of leaves the employee may access include paternity leave, annual leave, sick leave and public holidays of the country. The worker may be given full pay during the leave or paid according to the agreed conditions. Maternity leave to the worker is also an issue in the employment law. The period and number of times the worker can access this leave is set by the employer.
Racial or sexist discrimination policies are addressed in the employment contract. Discrimination of any sort is illegal at the work place. It is also morally unacceptable to subject employees to discrimination of any kind. In the terms and conditions of the employment contract, the employee must be assured of a discrimination free working environment. Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure those in authority do not discriminate against the employees, either racially or through sexual orientation. Promotion and allocation of tasks should be allocated fairly to ensure the satisfaction of every worker.
Other issues addressed in the employment contract include contract termination conditions. It states the procedure for laying off workers. Employees should be paid severance pay for a stated number of days after termination of his contract. Termination may be due to completion of the contract or laying off by the firm to meet its objectives of cutting costs or any other objective. The ease with which an employer can fire and hire employees is determined by the employment contract.
Other issues addressed is child labour, right of workers to join trade unions, join strikes and boycotts, workplace involvement and other issues relating to the employee and employer relationship. It also governs the behavior of the employee in the course of his work. He must perform his work to a standard required to the employer. Employers are not allowed to hire people under the age of 18. They should also grant employees the right to join unions and sometimes allow them join strikes. The duties of the employee should be clearly stated to avoid conflicts at the work place.
The types of employment contracts are the permanent employment contract and the fixed term employment contract. They are similar only that the fixed term employment contract states the starting date and ending date of the contract. They may choose to renew the contract or not. The other features are similar in that the employer offers the prospective employee the contract, and he signs it if the terms and conditions are favorable to him. Permanent employment contract can only be terminated if the worker does not suit the needs of the business anymore, or the firm wants to cut costs or any other reason. The worker has the right to severance pay for a number of days that differ from one country to another.
Since the industrial revolution, various legislative authorities have attempted to streamline the sector. Various acts touching on issues as employee safety and health, working hours, child labor, minimum wages and other labor issues have been put in place. One such act is the employment rights act of 1996 in the United Kingdom and the New Zealand employment relations act 2000. Every country strives to regulate the relationship between the worker and the employer by using the legislative tools. From time to time legislation is needed to govern the terms between the employer and employee as circumstances keep on changing. In relation to these changes in circumstances and situation, the legislative bodies should devise strategies to keep the employment laws up to date.
The employment contract is an important document governing the relationship between the employee and employer. It determines the input of the worker at work while ensuring him a safe working environment. Employment law in any country is crucial as it governs the interests of both parties, who are, the worker and employer. Continuous revision on the employment terms and conditions should be done to ensure it is up to date to economic conditions in a country.