The employment process is handled differently depending on your state and the type of businesses. However, there are still some common rules on hiring, firing, and employment.
Most employers ask new hires to sign an agreement stating that their employment is “at-will.” This means that the employee can walk away at any time without legal repercussions. It also means the employer can fire the employee at any time and for almost any reason.
Some employers choose to present more formal contracts to new employees. These contracts provide a detailed outline of the employer-employee relationship and often touch on things like:
Formal employment contracts have their advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that both parties will have a clear understanding of the job and its requirements. However, a big disadvantage is that contracts don’t allow for flexibility. If either party doesn’t like the contract, they’ll have to renegotiate.
To see an example or create your own contract, see Avvo's employment agreement template.
Every state has its own laws for the employment process. A common topic is how employers need to treat employees. States often have their own rules on minimum wage and the employment of minors. However, some rules apply to the entire United States.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets out wage regulations. It outlines both minimum wage and overtime wages. Overtime pay must be equal to at least one and a half times the employee's regular hourly rate. This act also sets a limit on how many hours minors can work.
The FLSA does not apply to all employees. For example, some computer professionals are exempt from the overtime portion of the FLSA. Commissioned salespeople, salaried employees, and highly compensated employees may also be exempt from the act's rules.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) sets safety standards that employers must follow. These standards protect employees from common hazards. Employers that violate OSHA risk heavy fines, ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands.
Employees who receive an injury on the job may qualify for workers' compensation. The employee may be covered by the employer's insurance, and the settlement can come in the form of a lump sum payment or periodic payments.
Five states—California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York—require employers to provide some form of short-term disability insurance to employees. This insurance usually covers injured employees for around six months, providing them with a portion of their lost income. The more specific details of short-term disability vary among the five states.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that if an employer can make reasonable accommodations that would allow a person with a disability to work for them, they must do so. Reasonable accommodations across different parts of the employment process may include:
Workplace harassment is considered form of discrimination. Harassment may or may not be sexual in nature, and it can include such things as derogatory language and jokes, intimidation, threats, and uncomfortable physical contact.
Employers are responsible for preventing and addressing harassment in the workplace. Businesses may also have to provide monetary compensation to victims of harassment. In some cases, the guilty party may even face jail time.
Even though most employment is at-will, there are still some circumstances where it’s illegal to fire an employee.
The information above gives a basic overview, but it doesn’t cover every possible situation that might come up. Be sure to familiarize yourself with local laws and, if necessary, talk to a legal professional who can answer any further questions you may have.
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