Most important Labor Laws in US – Overview of the Major Labour Laws

Overview of the Major Labor Laws in US

More than 180 federal statutes are enforced and administered by the Department of Labor (DOL). These directives and the legislation that implements them affect around 150 million individuals and ten million workplaces.

The following is a summary of many of the Department of Labor’s most important statutes that affect businesses, job seekers, employees, retirees, contractors, and grantees. This quick review is meant to provide an overview of the major labor laws in US rather than a thorough explanation. Consult the legislation and regulations themselves for authoritative information and references to more detailed discussions of these laws.

Most Important Labor Laws in US
Most Important Labor Laws in US

Members and Their Unions

The contact between a union and its members is governed by the Landrum-Griffin Act (Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959). It protects union money and promotes union democracy by mandating labour groups to file annual financial reports, as well as filing reports on specific labour relations practises by union leaders, employers, and labour consultants, and defining rules for the election of union officers. The by-law is applied by the Office of Labor Management Standards.

Employee Security

Whistle-blower protections are required by most labour and public safety laws, as well as many environmental regulations, for employees who report their employers’ infractions of the law. Resumption of employment and restoration of back wages are examples of possible remedies. Whistle-blower protections are enforced by OSHA in most states.

Most commercial and governmental sector occupations are subject to the Fair Labor Requirements Act, which establishes pay and overtime compensation regulations. Enforcing the law is the responsibility of the Wage and Hour Division. It mandates that companies pay at least the federal minimum wage and one-and-a-half times the usual rate of pay to covered employees who are not otherwise exempt.

It limits the hours that children under the age of 16 can work in non-agricultural enterprises and prohibits the employment of minors under the age of 18 in certain jobs that are regarded excessively dangerous. It prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16 in agricultural operations during school hours and in some vocations judged excessively dangerous.

The Wage and Hour Division also enforces the Immigration and Nationality Act’s labour standards rules, which apply to immigrants authorised to work in the United States under various non-immigrant visa programmes (H-1B, H-1B1, H-1C, and H2A).

Also Read: Labour Legislations in India

The Employment and Reemployment Rights Act Applies to Uniformed Service Members (ERRA)

ERRA is a federal law that protects certain members of the armed services have the right to reemployment with the same employer they worked for before joining the service. Those called up from the reserves or the National Guard are included in this category. The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service is in charge of enforcing these rights.

Act To Protect Employees from Polygraph Exams

Most businesses are prohibited from employing lie detectors on their employees under this regulation, however polygraph examinations are permitted in some instances. The Wage and Hour Division is in charge of administering it.

Wages Are Garnished

The Wage and Hour Division enforces the Consumer Credit Protection Act, which prohibits businesses from garnishing employees’ pay checks.

Act on Family and Medical Leave

Employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child or for the serious illness of the employee, a spouse, child, or parent under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is administered by the Wage and Hour Division.

Safety and Health in the Workplace

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is in charge of enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). OSHA or OSHA-approved state programmes monitor safety and health conditions in most private enterprises, as well as public sector employers. Employers covered by the OSH Act must obey OSHA’s rules and safety and health standards.

Employers also have a general duty under the OSH Act to offer employment and a workplace free of recognised, substantial hazards to their employees. OSHA is in charge of enforcing the law by conducting workplace inspections and investigations. There are also compliance support and other cooperative programmes available.

Most important Labor Laws in US – Overview of the Major Labour Laws
Important Labor Laws in US

Compensation for Employees

You should contact the workers’ compensation programme in the state where you resided or worked if you worked for a private company or the state government. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs of the United States Department of Labor has no role in the administration or oversight of state workers’ compensation programmes.

The Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which provides compensation and medical care to certain maritime employees (including longshore workers and other people involved in longshore operations, as well as harbour workers like ship repairers, shipbuilders, and shipbreakers) and qualified dependent survivors of such employees who are disabled or die as a result of injuries sustained on navigable waters.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act is a compensation programme that provides a lump-sum payment of $150,000 and prospective medical benefits to employees (or certain of their survivors) of the Department of Energy and its contractors and subcontractors as a result of cancer caused by radiation exposure, or certain illnesses caused by exposure to beryllium or silica incurred in the performance of duty, as well as for payment of a lump-sum payment of $150,000.

The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), 5 U.S.C. 8101 et seq., established a comprehensive and exclusive workers’ compensation programme that pays compensation for a federal employee’s disability or death caused by personal injury received while on duty. FECA, which is managed by OWCP, covers wage loss compensation for entire or partial disability, schedule awards for permanent loss or loss of use of certain bodily parts, medical expenses, and vocational rehabilitation.

The Black Lung Benefits Act gives monthly financial payments and medical benefits to coal miners who are totally incapacitated as a result of pneumoconiosis (“black lung sickness”) contracted while working in the country’s mines. If a miner’s death was caused by black lung disease, the act also pays monthly benefits to the miner’s survivors.

Also Read: Organisational Development Strategy

Employee Benefits Protection

Employers who provide pension or welfare benefit programmes for their employees are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) administers Title I of ERISA, which imposes a wide range of fiduciary, disclosure, and reporting responsibilities on fiduciaries of pension and welfare benefit plans, as well as those who engage with these plans. Many similar state labor laws in US are pre-empted by these clauses.

Certain employers and plan administrators are required to finance an insurance scheme to preserve certain types of retirement benefits under Title IV, with premiums paid to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation of the federal government. EBSA also oversees the continuation of health-care provisions reporting requirements imposed by the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), as well as the health-care portability requirements imposed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act on group plans (HIPAA).

Preference for Veterans

The federal government offers veterans and other qualifying individual’s exceptional employment opportunities. They are given first priority when it comes to initial hiring and are shielded from force reductions. Claims of infringement of these rights are investigated by the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

Contracts with the Government, Grants, or Financial Aid

Wage, hour, benefit, and safety and health regulations apply to recipients of government contracts, grants, or financial aid.

• The Davis-Bacon Act, which mandates contractors working on federal government building projects to pay prevailing wages and benefits to their employees;

• The McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act, which establishes wage rates and other labour regulations for contractors providing federal government services; and

• The Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act, which compels contractors delivering goods and supplies to the federal government to pay minimum wages and adhere to other labour standards.

The Wage and Hour Division is in charge of enforcing and administering these labor laws in US. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs oversees and enforces three federal contract-based civil rights statutes that mandate equal employment opportunities for most federal contractors and subcontractors, as well as federally aided construction firms. The Civil Rights Centre of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management administers and enforces numerous federal aid-based civil rights legislation that require beneficiaries of Department of Labor financial assistance to offer equal opportunity.

Most important Labor Laws in US – Overview of the Major Labour Laws
Overview of Labor Laws in US

Agricultural Migrants and Seasonal Workers

The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act governs the hiring and employment of migrant and seasonal agricultural workers by agricultural employers, farm labour contractors, and associations. Wage protections, housing and transportation safety regulations, farm labour contractor registration requirements, and disclosure obligations are all included in the Act. The Wage and Hour Division is in charge of enforcing this labor law in US.

Agricultural workers are free from overtime premium pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), although workers on larger farms (farms employing more than seven full-time workers) must be paid the minimum wage. Children under the age of 16 are prohibited from working during school hours and in certain jobs judged too risky under the Act’s child labour provisions. These rules do not apply to children who work on their families’ farms. The Wage and Hour Division is in charge of enforcing this law. Agricultural enterprises may also be subject to OSHA’s particular safety and health rules.

Employers who want to hire foreign temporary workers on H-2A visas are required by the Immigration and Nationality Act to obtain a labour certificate from the Employment and Training Administration certifying that there are insufficient, able, willing, and qualified U.S. workers available to do the job. The Wage and Hour Division is in charge of enforcing the H-2A program’s labour regulations.

Safety and Health in Mines

All people who work on mine property are covered by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act). The Mine Safety and Health Administration is in charge of enforcing this law (MSHA).

Mine operators are responsible for miners’ safety and health, and the Mine Act establishes required safety and health standards, as well as training requirements for miners, penalties for infractions, and the ability for inspectors to close unsafe mines. Roof falls, combustible and explosive gases, fire, electricity, equipment rollovers and maintenance, airborne contaminants, noise, and respirable dust are among the dangers addressed by the safety and health regulations. MSHA is responsible for enforcing safety and health regulations in about 13,000 mines, as well as investigating mine incidents and providing mine operators with training, technical help, and compliance assistance.


Several government agencies are in charge of programmes aimed primarily at the building industry. Under Davis-Bacon and related acts, the Wage and Hour Division requires payment of prevailing wages and benefits; the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs enforces Executive Order 11246, which requires federal construction contractors and subcontractors, as well as federally assisted construction contractors, to provide equal employment opportunity; and the anti-kickback section of the Copeland Acknowledgement Act requires payment of prevailing wages and benefits.

Also Watch: Role of HR Business Partner


The majority of labour regulations that regulate the transportation industry are administered by agencies other than the Department of Labor. OSHA, on the other hand, establishes and enforces long shoring and maritime industry safety and health requirements. Employers must ensure that workers’ compensation is financed and provided to eligible employees under the Long shoring and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Additionally, when federal monies are used to acquire, improve, or manage a transportation system, the rights of employees in the mass transit industry are safeguarded. Before the Department of Transportation may deliver funds to grantees, the Department of Labor must approve employee protection agreements under the Federal Transit Act.

Plant Closures and Layoff

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act may apply in such cases (WARN). WARN provides employees with advance notice of possible layoffs or industrial closures. Although neither the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) nor the Department of Labor have administrative responsibility for WARN, it is enforced by private action in federal courts.

Notices and Posters

Notices must be given to employees and/or placed in the workplace, according to certain of the statutes and rules enforced by the United States Department of Labor. The Department of Labor distributes free electronic and printed copies of these mandatory posters.

Leave a Comment