Girls Bulletin

Women's Magazine Online

10 Workplace Rights You May Not Be Aware Of

Woman working in a Office

Yes, you are employed, and you are enjoying every bit of it, presumably. But, are you really conscious of each right you are entitled to at your workplace?

Well, it might appear downright ubiquitous that your employer will stick to your workplace rights no matter the circumstances, but that’s never the case always. As a matter of fact, many companies turn a blind eye to the many labour laws, knowing pretty well that you may not bother to read the same rules. They do so either knowingly or ignorantly and oftentimes penalize you, even when you are right, and they’re wrong.

But you know what?

It pays to know all your workplace rights, and that’s why here are the paramount workplace rights for you. Master them because you will need each of these rights in the future.

1. Your rights against Discrimination in the workplace

There are many, different forms of workplace discriminations happening today, with most of them being both derogatory and offensive. From sexual discrimination, gender and age discrimination, racial and religious segregation and pregnancy discrimination all the way to bullying, all of them are rife nowadays. All these happen, despite the anti-discrimination law put in place to combat such vices.

All forms of workplace discrimination are illegal, and if you are subjected to any kind of it, including pregnancy discrimination, consider seeking legal help. One other place to head to might be at the trade union offices.

2. Your employer ought not to withhold your paycheck after your poor performance

Regardless of how embarrassing your performance is, no employer has a right to dock your rightful pay. After messing up, the best solution is to get fired. However, you must be paid for all the hours you worked and the effort you put in.

Yes, you made a costly mistake; yes, you broke an important piece of equipment; yes, you couldn’t complete your project in time. BUT then again all these are the costs of working in a busy environment and you should be paid and then penalized.

3. You have a right to look for a better job

Let nobody fool you; if you aren’t feeling sufficiently comfortable at your current organization and the amount of discomfort is getting the better of you, walk away. But first, talk to the supervisor to see if you could harmonize everything out or if it would be ideal to terminate your contract. It is your right to look for a better job, although it’s much like a choice.

4. It’s your right to be paid promptly

While many don’t know about the existence of this right, you must be aware of the fact that your paycheck must arrive punctually. Sure, state laws dictate how soon it should come upon expiry of the pay period, but that’s expected. However, in some states, the employer might be expected to pay the wages along with penalties when the paycheck arrives late.

5. You have a right to discuss your salary with your co-workers, the same with working conditions

According to the National Labor Relations Act, employers have no right to prevent employees from discussing their respective wages. The same is true with addressing important workplace-related issues, most notably working conditions. So, next time your employer forbids you from talking about them, just remind them of this clause.

6. All handbook promises are binding

In the workplace, promises about salary increase, the betterment of working conditions and the likes are pretty obvious. When they are made in employee handbooks, courts typically consider them as legally binding. Sure, circumstances do vary, but in particular, don’t forget to check if it is “will” or “shall” before taking the next step. Statements that are less probably to be binding include “may” or “can.”

7. You can’t be treated as an employee, but paid like a contractor

The government defines an employee as someone whose every work-related details including when, where, and how they work is known by the employer. As an employee, you are an asset to the whole organization and all your payroll taxes are filed by the same employer. As a contractor, however, you are free to do everything, including not coming to work. It is, therefore, your right to be treated as a contractor when you are a contractor.

8. It is the government to decide whether you are eligible for overtime – not the employer

According to the federal government, all jobs belong to either exempt or nonexempt categories. When you are a nonexempt employee, your employer has a right to pay for all your overtime for all hours you work exceeding 40 hours per week. The government does the categorization.

9. You have a right to psychological safety

Much like every employee is entitled to fair treatment and fair wages, everyone deserves to be psychologically safe in the workplace. As an employee, it is the employer’s responsibility to create a safe, comfy and friendly working environment that’s free from constant duress. The company, as well as your fellow employees, must not infringe on your mental wellness to maybe leverage power and control. In fact, fair treatment and psychological safety should always go hand in hand.

10. It is your workplace right to get fair treatment

Nobody has the right to talk to you unfairly, yelled right at you or disrespected your work. If you are often abused by the boss or those senior workers, be bold and walk away. Don’t feel weak or humble, despite feeling hurt, because you are part of the organization and thus you should be treated fairly. When you are intimidated at the workplace, first stay calm and if the situation persists, walk away because you will have driven the point home. Above all, don’t exhibit anything that directs to being disrespectful.

Final Words

Despite all these rights applying across the board, it’s important to mention that every employee must be aware of all workplace rights. Some selected employees like agency workers and freelance workers might not enjoy all these statutory laws, though. When in doubt, consult an employment attorney. If you have been abused or deprived your right, including any one of these ten, just lodge a complaint at the appropriate commissions. In all you do, remember that rules are rules and can’t be tweaked, interpreted differently or erased to favour one party.

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