Federal Labor Laws: Important Things You Need To Know

Various laws in the United States touch on the rights of workers and employers and the relationship that exists between them at the workplace. These federal labor laws seek to regulate the working environment for employees. It creates certain rights and obligations to parties in an employment relationship or contract.

What are labor laws?

Labor laws are a body of laws that addresses the legal rights of working people, imposes restrictions on them and their organization. It mediates the many aspects of the relationship that exists between trade unions, employers, and employees. It regulates individual employment contracts, application of tort, contract doctrines, and statutory regulations.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for creating and enforcing many of the federal laws for employment, known as employment rights which include:

Other laws that address federal labor laws include:

What are employment agreement and how do they impact labor laws?

In order to develop an employment relationship, an employer and employee may enter into an agreement regarding their employment relationship. The employment contract helps the employer and employee clarify their expectations and any legal limitations. Except in rare situations, employers cannot require employees to waive their statutory labor law rights. However, employers and employees can agree to waive some non-statutory labor laws, for example, at-will protections.

Why are labor laws important?

As described in Major Laws Administered there are the importance of Labor laws;

The laws cover matters of employment

Under which it dictates the modalities for hiring and dismissal of employees. It covers issues of child labor, employment of children is frowned upon by various federal laws—issues of discrimination and equality at the workplace. Health and safety, key components of any employment relationship, are also explained.

Training of employees

Certain employment contracts could require an individual to be trained in a particular way for them to be confirmed as employees, or some contracts provide for probation periods. This gives the employer a leeway to determine the suitability of a particular person to be employed in a given sector or job while dictating the guidelines for possible advancements between the employment relationships.


The laws provide wage protection, by determining forms and methods of payment; for instance, the law arbores payment in kind as consideration for working in a particular employer, the pay rates, the social security funds, the national security funds act which requires the employer to remit specific amounts to the social security fund for the employee to benefit after the termination of employment relationship or retirement. It covers issues of pensions.

Conditions of work

How many hours should an individual work on a particular day? When should they start working?

The guidelines change working hours, taking into considerations changing times. It covers the rest periods. According to what are labor laws, every employee is entitled to leave. The laws stipulate leave days in a given year and vacations for workers.

Trade union

The roles they play, the process of registration, how they engage employers, or how employer organizations engage trade unions to discuss issues about their members within particular sectors of employment are all regulated by the set labor standards.

This also covers Labor-management relations, issues of collective bargaining, enforcement of rights and obligations in employment relationships. Rules of settling strikes and other disputes in business.

What are some of the classifications of labor laws?

There are broad categories of labor laws. According to U.S. Department of Labor these are procedural and substantive.


Policies under substantive describe the rights of parties and individuals and their organizations. It describes the standards to be observed by both employer and employee. It also deals with the contract of service and contract for services alongside termination of employment.


Procedural laws have other legislations that guide the process of enforcement of individual rights. This prescribes procedures to be followed in all labor matters; for instance, the labor institution act established in various labor offices across states trying to address issues that pertain to grievances on the rights of employees and employers.

What are some of the Benefits of employment law?

Fair labor practices

Another importance of labor laws is that they grant certain inalienable rights to employers and employees such not even the federal government can take those rights enshrined away.

Freedom from discrimination and equity.

The laws urge against discrimination on any grounds. It protects against discrimination based on tribe, race, sex, marital status.

Freedom of association

Every employee has a right to form, join or participate in the affairs of a trade union. The employer should also not be discriminated against based on his desire or actions to join or take part in the affairs of a particular trade union.

Fair administration action

The Law expects that when a disciplinary matter proceeding is taken against an employee, then the employee’s right to a fair hearing must then be taken into account. He has to be accorded this right,

Establishes the labor courts

Has jurisdiction to hear and determine all disputes in accordance with the constitution.

Protection of employees.

Labor has a very unfortunate history coming back from the slave trade and slavery. There is a need to protect employees from exploitation.

The employment laws regulate wages to be paid by employers to maintain the financial capacity of employees, setting the minimum wage. No employer ought to go below that, no payment of money that is less or equivalent to the set amount. It sets minimum labor standards that continue to be amended as time and conditions dictate.

Maintains industrial peace

The resolution of strikes increases the production of goods and the provision of social services.


Labor laws view labor in the context of work, the effort made to accomplish a particular task. Not every worker is an employee. In any setting, when a person is not regarded as an employee, he is identified as a contractor, somebody whose engagement is to accomplish a particular task for which consideration has been assigned.

A service contract relates to an employment relationship, while a service contract is for independent contractors who engage for a fee for a particular assignment. Only employees are entitled to statutory rights of employees. Independent contractors do not enjoy the benefits of employment laws. The Law that solely applies to independent contractors is the Law of contract act. However, some disputes end up in court, calling to courts to determine whether one is an employee or not.

Employers, at times and when circumstances demand, may be held liable for the actions of their employees or deemed to pay compensation by the labor laws.

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