With the global coronavirus pandemic - many of us are concerned about heading back into the workplace. I understand. While working from home may work for some, heading into an office or workplace outside our home is an inevitability for most of us. Many of us are employees and as such we will be working for companies owned by someone else or owned by shareholders. Our work helps business to excel, expand and progress. Employees drive sales, help businesses expand, and drive growth. With all the help employees give companies, it’s important, that your work life is safe - even in the changing post Covid-19 workplace. This is why it is absolutely essential to know your workplace rights. There are rules and regulations in place that employers need to follow and here are a few areas that you should know about!
Health and Safety
Every employer has a duty and a responsibility to make sure you’re safe at work. This is why health and safety measures are in place and why investigations can be inducted into the health and safety standards of any workplace.
First and foremost, the environment that you work in should be safe. There shouldn’t be any unnecessary risks. Any risks that establish themselves need to be tackled and rectified. Any risks that are permanent (such as low ceilings, sudden steps or anything else structural) need to be highlighted with signs. Any temporary risks (such as a wet floor) should also be highlighted with temporary signs. Secondly, your employer needs to ensure that any work you do carry out is safe.
Risk assessments should be conducted into any risky areas and you should also receive training and have the necessary protective equipment required to safely complete any job asked of you. If you notice issues anywhere within the business, highlight them and request that they are resolved, repaired or otherwise fixed. You have a legal right to file a worker’s compensation claim to recover from any illness or injuries that are a result of workplace injuries. Additionally if you want more resources - including resources on returning to work post Covid-19, check out the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. You can check out their resources which are very helpful for returning to work safely.
If you’re disabled, it’s important that your employer follows protocol when it comes to ensuring you can work comfortably, safely and without prejudice in the workplace. Whatever your impairment - whether visible or not - you need to highlight it to your employer and they have to accommodate you. This goes in terms of having an equal chance of getting the job. It goes in terms of ensuring you can easily navigate yourself around the workplace independently. You should never feel as though you’re unable to join in with anything or that you’re being treated differently to others.
These are just two different areas of workplace rights that you should know about. There are plenty more - parental rights, freedom from prejudice, minimum wage…and more. Other resources you may want to reasearch are your states' respective workforce commissions. For example, Texas Workforce Commission has great help for those who are seeking jobs, need unemployment or have questions about their workplace.
If you have any questions about your workplace rights, ask us and we will try to point you in the right direction.
**Please note this is not legal advice and should not be construed as such.
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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