Overview of Your Employees’ Rights for Small Businesses
If you have a small business and have even one employee - or are considering hiring your first employee - it is essential to understand the rights of employees in California. Failing to uphold employee rights can lead to costly losses or liability, which can significantly impact your company’s bottom line. Read on to learn some important employee rights, and never hesitate to speak with our Encino employment lawyers about your specific concerns or questions.
Statutory Employment Rights
Many employee rights are set out in federal and state statutes. These laws mandate responsibilities to employees and the rights they have as part of the workforce. Noncompliance with statutory rights can result in government investigations, civil penalties and fines, and private claims filed by employees.
Wage and Hour Rights
The California Labor Code provides numerous rights to employees, including:
- Paying minimum wage for all hours worked
- Overtime or double time rates when applicable
- Proper meal and rest breaks
- Paid sick leave accrual
- Getting paid on time, including a final paycheck
- Being properly categorized as non-exempt vs. exempt or as an employee vs. independent contractor
- Having proper workers’ compensation coverage
If an employee believes that you violated any of their wage and hour rights, they can file a complaint with the state and/or in civil court. This can result in the payment of back wages, as well as possible penalties imposed by the state.
Rights Regarding the Workplace Environment
There are also a number of rights regarding the work environment that you provide for employees. Some of these rights apply even if your employees are working remotely. Always keep the following rights in mind:
- The right to a safe and healthy workplace in accordance with all federal and state requirements.
- The right to be free from unlawful discrimination or harassment.
- The right to reasonable accommodations for any disabilities or religious beliefs or practice.
- The right to leave for qualified family and medical reasons or pregnancy and childbirth.
The law also provides the right against retaliation by an employer for complaining about possible unlawful activity (internally or to authorities outside the employer), requesting accommodations, requesting leave, filing a workers’ compensation claim, and more.
If you have your employees sign employment contracts, be aware that you need to comply with all the rights that the contract provides. Contract terms can vary, but common terms include providing benefits, terminating employees for cause only, and more. If you violate the terms of an employment contract, you can face breach of contract claims in civil court.
Remember also that employment handbooks and policies can be construed as contracts in certain situations. You do not always need a formal contract to have obligations to uphold an employee’s contract rights.
Contact Our Encino Employment Attorneys for More Information
The law firm of Kaufman McAndrew LLP assists small business owners with a wide range of employment law concerns, including compliance with all state and federal statutes. Call 818-788-5767 or contact us online to learn more about how our legal team can help your business with employment questions.