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Employee Rights and Responsibilities



employment attorneys in Southern California

Workplaces are melting points of diversity. Employees originate from different backgrounds and have different cultures, exposures, and expertise. Workers must collaborate or work cohesively to achieve the company’s goals and objectives. 

Collaboration can only be possible if there are proper mechanisms to Promote cohesion. Many companies consult employment attorneys in Southern California to avoid these roadblocks. Understanding your rights and obligations is the first step toward cohesion.

Distinction Between Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Employee Rights 

Employee rights refer to the predefined privileges associated with employment. These rights promote fair treatment of employees by employers. Employee rights can include:

  • Meal and rest breaks;
  • Safe and healthy work environments;
  • Provision of working resources;
  • Annual leaves;
  • Promotion based on merit, and more.

The rights of workers touch on the 17 protected characteristics of employment in one way or another, including:

  1. Race;
  2. Gender;
  3. Marital status;
  4. Religious and political affiliations;
  5. Origin, and much more.

Employee Responsibilities 

Employee responsibilities are specific targets that should be accomplished by employees over a specified duration of time. These responsibilities influence the daily work schedules of employees.

Workers’remuneration is based on the achievement or accomplishment of employee responsibilities. Also, defining responsibilities helps avoid confusion and conflicts in the workplace.

Common Employee Rights 

The following are some of the common employee rights:

Meal and Rest Breaks

By law, employees are eligible for rest and meal breaks. These breaks are subject to specific rules, which can vary by state or employment terms. Meal and rest breaks allow employees to revitalize their physical and mental strength.

In California, non-exempt employees are eligible for an unpaid and uninterrupted 30-minute meal break if their workday is more than 5 hours. Meal breaks must begin before the end of the fifth hour of a workday. Employees are entitled to a second meal break if their workday is more than 10 hours.

Non-exempt employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every 4 hours of work if their work day is 3.5 or more hours. Alternatively, rest breaks should be proportional to the hours worked in a day. The breaks should be taken in the middle of each 4-hour work shift if possible.

Working Hours

Employee work schedules are based on a work day or week. For non-exempt employees, a typical work day and week constitutes 8 and 40 hours, respectively. Any excess hours put in by employees attract overtime pay. A typical work week for exempt employees averages between 40 to 50 hours. 

Any extra hours put in should be considered overtime work eligible for overtime pay. Working hours are usually broken into several shifts, which can vary by company. Employees have a right to leave the work premises after their daily working hours are over. Employers should compensate their employees in case they require them to put in more time.

Safe and Healthy Work Environment

Employers have a legal duty to provide safe and healthy work environments for their workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration —OSHA, sets the safety and health standards for workplaces. 

Employees should report hazards and potential risks to employers and demand action. Otherwise, OSHA violations should be forwarded to relevant authorities besides employers.

Medical Claim Facility

Employers should have medical claim facilities in place. These facilities protect the interests of employees when workplace accidents occur. A combined effort from all stakeholders is required to promote workplace safety and health. 

Medical claim facilities or workman’s compensation is a mandatory requirement in all California workplaces. Employees can report their employers for operating without medical coverage.

Working Over Holidays

 Employees reserve the right to or not to work over holidays. No one should force them to come to work or work from home. Employees should always ensure they’ve met the expectations of their employers to avoid forced working. Additionally, employees reserve the right to, or not to answer phone calls during holidays.

Provision of Company Resources

 The employer must provide the necessary resources required by employees to accomplish their work. For instance, laptops, note-pads, office bags, cell phones, and other necessary resources must be availed by the company. 

Employers may be oblivious to employee needs so that responsibility should be handled by HR departments. Employees shouldn’t use their personal belongings for office work.

Paid Leaves

As per the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for:

  • Medical treatment;
  • Caring for sick loved ones, or
  • Bonding with newborns or new adoptions. 

Eligible employees in California can take leaves for the following reasons:

  • Family and kin care;
  • Maternal and paternal care;
  • Pregnancy disability;
  • Medical treatment and recovery;
  • Bereavement leave;
  • Voting;
  • Jury duty;
  • Recovering from domestic violence;
  • Recovering from crime trauma;
  • Literal advancement;
  • Drug or alcohol rehab;
  • Organ and bone marrow donation;
  • Treatment for military injury.

Employee rights and obligations help create conducive work environments. An employment attorney can advise you more on this subject.