Employment Laws You Need to Know
Know Your Rights When You’ve Been Laid-Off
Here are the basics components of 4 major employment laws that directly affect your employment and unemployment.
COBRA (Consolidated Ominibus Reconciliation Act)
COBRA health coverage is a hot topic especially given the high unemployment rate. AND it’s a commonly misunderstood law. COBRA is a government provision created to protect you in the event of sudden job displacement. Essentially you have the right to elect continued health provider coverage under the same group health insurance plan your employer used. Get laid-off from a company with 20 or more employees and you qualify for COBRA coverage. Find out more about state COBRA laws, your rights, mini-COBRA programs and the new COBRA subsidies available for you.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
Chances are you’ve run into HIPAA during a visit to the doctor’s office or a trip to the hospital. That part of HIPAA has to do with patient confidentiality. But there’s a key portion of this Act that relates to employment and health insurance coverage. Should you become unemployed, change employers or otherwise consider a healthcare provider change, HIPAA offers some vital protection for you and your family.
- Worried about a lapse in coverage?
- Concerned that you’ll be disqualified for “pre-existing medical conditions”?
- Moving jobs and insurance providers?
- Losing your job and need to buy your own health insurance?
HIPAA basically offers you protection from pre-existing conditions disqualifications, ensures you are able to buy into another insurance program for yourself or your family, and otherwise provides safeguards so you are not severed from healthcare coverage if you’ve already been covered.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Enacted in 1938, on the backend of the Great Depression, the FLSA addressed a number of employment issues, including minimum wage and overtime pay, among a few other issues.
- Minimum wage is currently set at $6.55 and will increase to $7.25 on July 1, 2009. Minimum wage does not necessarily apply to all employees. Students in internships or apprenticeships, wage-earners that also consider tips a significant portion of their pay and others may not be eligible for minimum wage. Visit your state Department of Labor for specific state minimum wage laws.
- Overtime pay, under the FLSA, kicks in once full-time employees have worked beyond the standard 40 hours in a scheduled week of work. Overtime wages are at least 11/2 times your normal hourly wage, but could be more. If you earn $10/hour during a regular 40-hour work week, you should earn at least $15/hour in overtime wages for any hours worked beyond your 40 and in the same week.
Unemployment Compensation Insurance (part of the Social Security Act)
Social Security is commonly mistaken with retirement income. But the Social Security Act of 1935 created a fistful of social insurance programs including the Unemployment Compensation program in combination with the IRS’s Federal Unemployment Tax Act. This combined federal-state program provides temporary unemployment income for workers displaced from jobs through no fault of their own.