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Employee Safety, Health, And Welfare Law Paper

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Employee Safety, Health, and Welfare Law Paper

Gilbert Peralta

6/11/2007

MGT 434

University of Phoenix

Brian Strayer

Over the years, The United States Government has taken great care to protect employee's rights to take care of themselves and their families. Two of the greatest pieces of legislation passed to protect employees' rights to themselves and their families are the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Both signed and enacted into law at very different social times, but both emulate the commitment the U.S. Government has to protect workers and their families.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was written into law February 5, 1993 by President Bill Clinton; which was his first piece of legislation. The law was adopted to provide workers with rights to protect their jobs while taking care of medical emergencies regarding one self or their family. Prior to the FMLA, workers had no job security if they took off time to be with their families.

The Family and Medical Leave Act applies to employers with 50 or more employees that work within a 75 mile radius. Eligible employees must have been with the company for one year and for at least 1,250 hours during the one year preceding the time off (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007). Also, the employee must give at least 30 days' notice when applicable (child birth for example). The FMLA affects only about 5 percent of U.S. employers and about 40 percent of U.S. employees. Studies have also shown that only one third of eligible workers have used FMLA citing fear of potential retaliation from employers as the reason (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007).

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was written into law December 29, 1970 by President Richard Nixon. The compelling social issue of workers' safety resulted in President taking action to protect workers from blatant employer neglect. Prior to OSHA workers had no voice to protect them from the daily dangers and hazards present in high risk and low risk occupations. OSHA claims the act has helped cut occupational related fatalities by more then 60 percent and injury and illness rates by 40 percent (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007).

The Occupational Safety and Health Act is much more broad in who it affects then other federal legislation, compared to Title VII of the CRA and its amendments. The OSH Act governs any employer who employs workers in a business that affects commerce (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007). Eligible employers must comply with the Department of Labor's safety and health compliance requirements. The body responsible for monitoring and enforcement is the OSH administration under the Department of Labor. Seen as OSHA's most costly and invasive requirement, the continual-training requirement requires employers to adopt a program to train employees about proper safety in the workplace.

There are certain responsibilities employers have by law in regards to FMLA and OSHA. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employers are responsible to provide leave under the following circumstances:

1. The birth and care of a son or daughter.

2. The placement of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care.

3. The care of spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition

4. A serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the basic functions of their employment.

Upon complete satisfaction of all FMLA requirements, employers have the responsibility to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees. The single most important responsibility employers have in regards to FMLA is to ensure that employees come back to the same position or one of equivalent pay and task. Employers have the responsibility to ensure employees can take necessary time off from work to take care of their families or themselves and not worry about whether they will have a job to come back to after their leave expires.

In regards to OSHA, employers' responsibilities are simple, but not necessarily easy to regulate. Employers are expected to, "furnish to each of its employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognize hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm". This clause is known as the "general duty" clause. This is a very

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