Exercising Your Rights At Work – A Fundamental Guide

Exercising Your Rights At Work - A Fundamental Guide

Many employees think that exercising their worker’s rights, especially at the inconvenience of their employer, is not always a good idea. For instance, they may be interested in working more or taking more overtime than necessary in order to secure a promotion, to avoid complaints if they think it will “rock the boat,” or fail to exercise a right if it means their position at the company could remain tenuous. Jobs are hard to come by after all, and as such, few people wish to lose their chance of earning a solid and reliable income.

Thankfully, protections are in place to ensure you have a say as a professional, and as someone with their own privileges and rights to make use of. Employment law has been developed for a reason, and so subverting your own hard-won rights can be a real mistake. However, the first mistake is not knowing how far they go, or what they mean. In this post, we’ll discuss that, and hopefully help you curate a better, healthier outcome. With that in mind, please consider:

No Tolerance For Discrimination & Harassment

Many companies have no-tolerance policies for issues as difficult as discrimination and harassment, both of which should be utterly stamped out of any workplace. However, while those policies exist, they cannot be actualized without the cooperation of staff. This is why it’s important to report those who might infringe upon your rights or belittle you based on these definitions.

It’s also important to consider the first strike enough to be penalized because you shouldn’t give anyone with intentions to harass or minimize you based on immutable characteristics the time of day, nor understanding they haven’t provided to you. Of course, this doesn’t mean abusing the HR system, but it does mean reporting where suitable, documenting your communications, and submitting evidence like extra-work communications where this conduct had taken place.

In other words, never feel bad or inconvenient for demanding your professional and personal dignity be respected on a basic level.

Understanding Your Rights For Taking Time Off

Depending on the country you’re in, attitudes towards time off can be different. In the US, for instance, time off is often earned rather than given as an entitlement, and seen more as a worthwhile benefit of each job, as there is no federal law mandating it. In many European countries, it may be seen as an essential part of employment law – where sometimes you are even forced to take time off if you haven’t redeemed your holiday allowance.

It’s essential to understand the entire set of provisions afforded to you, be that vacation time, sick leave, and family and medical leave. For instance, in the US, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to leave work for 12 weeks, unpaid, should you or a family member falls seriously ill, or you have a child.

It’s also good to know how your employer handles additional time in work in salaried positions. You may be able to earn Time-Off-In-Lieu (TOIL) to reclaim time for vacation should you work outside of your contracted hours.

Don’t be afraid to exercise this where appropriate. If you’re on leave, you’re on leave, unless there’s an emergency and you can negotiate its postponement on behalf of your company.

Reporting Wrongdoing & Whistleblower Protections

Industries and society at large run on accountability, or that’s the theory that organizations big and small tend to pay lip service to, anyway. However, depending on the law or unethical behavior you’ve noticed and feel an obligation to report, you may be protected under some laws. Of course, it’s important to confirm this, and to document your entire experience as you go through it.

For example, if you feel you’ve been let go after reporting discrimination in the workplace, then you may take that up with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), while those whistleblowing egregious safety concerns may raise the case with organizations like OSHA. It’s important to remember that you have the right to raise concerns and to be treated properly thanks to that effort. However, these laws can differ between states and even industries, and certainly countries. As such, speaking with legal counsel before moving ahead can be a good idea.

Organizing & Unionizing

In most developed countries, the right to organize and form a union is yours, but of course, this can differ. This will include the right to start or join a union, to engage in a concerted activity such as discussing rights, organizing strikes, and more.

While it’s true that some companies do take efforts to quell unions, or to de-incentivize their formation, you may be completely within your rights to do so publicly and openly. In general, it’s also important to consider what you may be legally restricted from doing ,and what might be considered “bad form” from your management.

For example, companies often dislike it when staff discuss salaries and benefits with one another, but doing so can only benefit you and won’t break any employment laws or realistically-enforceable policies, because saying what you earn, and determining if you’re being fairly paid compared to others, is a healthy approach to take, and almost all worker’s rights organizations see it that way.

Worker’s Compensations & Injuries

If you’re injured, you have other, more pressing matters to focus on, like recovery and making sure you find the time off you need to heal. However, this is all intrinsically related to your working rights and exercising them, also.

For instance, this guide to who should file for workers’ compensation can be enlightening, and give you the appropriate path forward. Moreover, speaking with legal counsel can help you identify accountability if you feel the issue was not accidental, allowing you to claim the compensation you deserve.

On top of that, demanding structural change in the processes such a company uses to manage its employees, and thus preventing others from going through your situation, can be key. This way, you balance such an approach effectively and with care.

With this advice, you’re sure to exercise your rights at work in the best possible stance.

About the author

Ombir Sharma

Ombir is a SEO Executive at The Next Hint Media, Inc. He is a SEO and writer has 2 years of experience in these respective fields. He loves spending his time in doing research on different topics.

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