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Employee Safety, Health, and Welfare Law Paper

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Employee Safety, Health, and Welfare Law Paper

Employee Safety, Health, and Welfare Law Paper

The discussion of this paper will be The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Worker’s compensation, and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). The following questions will be answered, what are employers’ responsibilities under the law and what protections does the law provide for employees?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into legislation on February 5, 1993, by President Clinton and was one of his first pieces of legislation of his administration. The law entitles an employee a total of 12 weeks of leave during a 12 month period for the birth of a child, placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care, in order to care for the spouse, a son, daughter, or parent of the employee if they have a serious health condition, and a serious health condition of the employee that makes he or she unable to perform the functions of the position(Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, p. 297). In order to qualify an employee must have worked for the employer for at least one year and at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months preceding the requested time off and must give the employer at least 30 day’s notice when practical of the intent or need for the leave (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, p. 297).

All employers with 50 or more employees within a 75- mile radius must comply with the FMLA and may require employees to use vacation or other leave before applying the unpaid leave, but the employer must compensate the employee for any vacation or other leave type used. During this period the employer must provide benefits just as if the employee was still at work but may make the employee liable for any benefit he or she would normally pay. According to the Department of Labor, the employer can require the employee stays in the hospital for at least one night as confirmation of an illness (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, p. 297). “Under the FMLA, the employer’s duties are triggered when the employee provides enough information to put the employer on notice that the employee may be in need of FMLA leave” (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, p. 301).

Under the FMLA, an employee may take advantage of the act in connection with a “serious health condition”. This is defined as “an illness, injury or physical or mental condition that involves . . . inpatient care . . . or continuing treatment by a health care provider” (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, p. 578). Under the FMLA an employee is entitled to return to the same position and if not available then one that is equivalent to his or her position (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, p. 578). Complaints may be filed with the Wage and Hour Division

of the Labor Department, or the employee can file a lawsuit if he or she feels the employer violated the act (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, p. 297).

The law was enacted to allow employees to take a necessary leave without the fear of termination or retaliation from his or her employer. Consequently, this is not a guarantee of protection for an employee who has an attendance problem not related to reasons covered under the act. The employer still has the right to terminate the employee upon return for non-related attendance problems without fear of being in violation of the law.

Worker’s compensation is a plan where an employee is paid a benefit by the employer for an on the job injury. All injuries obtained on the job may not meet the requirements of being a workers compensation claim because the injury may result from an existing health condition the employee has. Additionally, a workers’ compensation does not always occur on the employers premises. The employee may injury his or her self off site but on company business therefore making the employer liable. The employer must pay into the system or insurance fund which will be used when a claim is filed. The more claims filed the higher the employers premium. With workers’ compensation statutes, employees trade off potentially higher damages

awarded after litigation against the certainty of smaller benefits provided immediately. Employees are protected against employer retaliation for filing a claim and the employer is not allowed to use the usual defenses against the employee to avoid liability for workplace injuries. The employee may end up with less in benefits but the benefits are certain and right now if workers’ compensation requirements are met. The employer gains freedom from lawsuits for workplace injuries and the certainty of how much such injury will cost (Bennett-Alexander & Hartman, 2007, pp. 573-574).

On December 29,1970, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act, attempting to ensure safe and healthful working conditions

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