Workplace health and safety are critical to maintaining high productivity and effective performance. Therefore, it is important that employers ensure the provision of healthy and safe working conditions. The paper at hand examines the two legislative acts that grant the protection of employees’ rights and assist in promoting work-related health and safety: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). The paper analyzes these acts within several dimensions: the scope of their application, the obligations they assign to employers, and the rights they guarantee to employees.
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FMLA was enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division on August 5, 1993. FMLA applies to private, local government, and state employees. Additionally, the major part of federal employees and some congressional employees are likewise covered by the Act. There is a series of requirements imposed on an employee to be eligible for the Act coverage. Hence, his or her employer is supposed to be covered.
The employee must have worked for the stated employer for at least a year with the minimal sum of 1,250 of working hours. The relevant organization should be situated within the US territory and have a workforce of fifty employees minimum (Society for Human Resource Management, 2016a).
In the frame of FMLA, an employee bears a series of responsibilities. Hence, FMLA obliges employers to provide an eligible employee with twelve workweeks of unpaid leave within a one-year or longer period. The leave is provided under several conditions including the care of a newborn, adoption and foster care, care of a relative with a critical health condition, or an employee’s inability to fulfill the work-related functions due to a critical health condition.
Employers are likewise obliged to provide a six-month unpaid leave for the relatives of a present member of the Armed Forces. Under any circumstances, an employee is guaranteed to be restored to the original position when the leave period expires. Additionally, an employer is expected to maintain the coverage of a group health insurance for an employee that takes an unpaid leave (Society for Human Resource Management, 2016a).
Apart from the guaranteed job restoration that is the main protection that employees receive in the frame of FMLA, they are likewise guaranteed to have their health-related expenses covered by the insurance. Moreover, employees are not obliged to take the entire twelve-week period of the unpaid leave; instead, they might use the option intermittently, whenever the circumstances meet those stated in FMLA scope. Hence, FMLA provides for attaching the right to health and welfare to employees within a legislative frame (Society for Human Resource Management, 2016a).
OSHA is a set of standards that is aimed at ensuring the provision of safe and healthy workplaces for employees. Apart from the standard setting function, OSHA is likewise assigned with a controlling role that is performed through conducting inspections. OSHA can be applied to any employees and employers within the US except for self-employed individuals. Additionally, it does not cover farms the workforce of which comprises only immediate family members. It is also essential to note that this Act cannot be applied to controlling those working conditions that are regulated by other federal agencies, such as those in nuclear weapon manufacturing or mining (Society for Human Resource Management, 2016b).
In the frame of the Act, employers are assigned with a series of responsibilities. Thus, they are in charge of ensuring that their employees receive the essential education in terms of safety rule and guidelines. Additionally, they are obliged to provide the employees with the working conditions that comply with the norms and standards approved by OSHA. OSHA standards mainly cover five work-related aspects: access to medical records, personal protective equipment, hazard communication, reporting, and recordkeeping. Within each dimension, employers are responsible for ensuring that the employees’ conduct complies with the relevant safety norms.
The failure to comply with the established standards might lead to the assignation of penalties and sanctions relevant to the type of the violation committed. It is also necessary to point out the initiatives proposed by OSHA to enhance workplace safety and health. Hence, there are voluntary protection, alliance, and strategic partnership programs to name but a few. Responsible employers can join the appropriate initiative to raise the quality of the working conditions in the organization (Society for Human Resource Management, 2016b).
From an employee perspective, OSHA provides for the guarantee of some important work-related rights. Thus, employees are enabled to complain to OSHA if the offered workplace conditions do not comply with the relevant standards of health and safety. In this case, their identities will not be revealed to employers. Private-sector workers are likewise enabled to complain to OSHA about the employers’ reprisal (Society for Human Resource Management, 2016b).
Therefore, both FMLA and OSHA help to protect the employees’ right to health and safety. While the former is mainly aimed to ensure the realization of this right beyond the workplace, the latter guarantees its realization on-site.
Society for Human Resource Management. (2016a). Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. Web.
Society for Human Resource Management. (2016b). Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970. Web.