Because they are constantly in flux managers often struggle to track labor laws to ensure that their company – and its culture – is in compliance at all times.
Larger companies have legal departments to do all this of course, but that is rarely the case for SMBs. Instead it is up to managers, supervisors and HR to keep up.
But how hard can it be? Federal law is the law to worry about, right? Yes, but employers are often required to keep up with two, even three, separate layers of labor law at the federal, state, and local levels. That is certainly the case here in Georgia. And labor laws in Georgia can vary significantly from those in other states, even those nearby. So what’s the difference between them all? How can you keep track?
The Difference Between Federal and State Labor Laws
Federal labor laws are standards and practices mandated for all states by the U.S. government. Put simply, federal labor laws apply to everyone. They’re enforced by the federal Department of Labor, or DOL. From there, states can create and mandate their own individual labor laws with additional protections and rules, as long as they’re in compliance with federal laws. State laws are then enforced by their own state DOL.
For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, is a federal law that applies to employers and employees no matter where they are in the U.S. It sets a baseline for minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping, and youth employment standards for the entire country.
Under the Labor laws in Georgia the minimum wage paid to most workers is in line with federal law: $7.25 per hour, with exceptions for certain classes of worker (usually tipped employees) However, just next door in Florida the minimum wage in 2019 is $8.46 per hour. A new hire coming from the Sunshine State to Georgia may therefore balk at being paid less, but because of state law differences this is perfectly legal. And this is just a single basic example.
Since employers are required to comply with both federal and state labor laws, it can be hard to keep track of changes in laws for your city, state, or even the entire country as new laws are handed down or old statutes are updated. Regardless, employers are expected to be up-to-date and in compliance with all labor laws—and being unaware of the law doesn’t do much when it comes to a labor dispute.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of five great and easy to access resources to help you keep track of labor laws.
1. Federal and State Department of Labor Websites
The best place to find updated (and accurate) labor and employment law information is the state labor law section of the federal DOL website. The federal DOL website itself is a crucial resource for any business owner when it comes to complying with federal labor laws, but it also hosts a full index of all state-level DOL agencies. You’ll be able to see the most up-to-date versions of state labor laws along with their individual websites and contact information.
2. JD Supra’s Labor Law Newsletter
JD Supra is a popular legal “wiki” and legal content publisher created by attorneys and other legal professionals from all over the country . The site posts online commentary along with latest court rulings and analysis from legal experts in top industries, including labor and employment law. Sign up and follow labor topics to receive your own personal “morning brief” on all things labor law in your inbox each morning.
3. @Labor_Law on Twitter
Just like the labor and employment section of its website, JD Supra also has a Twitter feed devoted solely to the tracking labor law updates. Follow @Labor_Law on Twitter for news on workplace legal developments, from human resources topics to workplace discrimination and news from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). You can set alerts on your desktop or phone so that every time an update is posted, especially in regard to specific labor laws in Georgia, you’ll receive a notification.
4. The National Labor Relations Board
The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that provides the “legal framework for private-sector organizing and acts to prevent or remedy unfair labor practices by private employers and unions or if employees feel their rights have been violated.” Phew. The NLRB essentially sets out the rules for unions and collective bargaining, weighs in on labor disputes, and keeps track of union regulations—all while investigating charges, deciding labor cases, and enforcing orders to fix employee rights violations.
5. The American Bar Association
Similar to JD Supra, the American Bar Association has a section devoted entirely to labor and employment law. You don’t have to be a lawyer to see latest employment news and trending topics, but note that you may not be able to view all content without being an ABA member.