It’s an unspoken truth that white-collared workers earn more money than most blue-collared workers. Blue-collared jobs are more focused on manual labor, and only a few jobs under this category require skilled workers. As a result, workers under this category are paid less for their work or are paid per project. White-collared workers, on the other hand, are mostly skilled college graduates that get to work in an office and have more competitive salaries and benefits.
The differences between the two job categories also mean that both are treated differently. A white-collared worker who proves to be exceptional and hard to replace can find work pretty easily. But what laws do unskilled blue-collared workers have on their side to protect their own job security?
Anti-Discrimination on Employees
It’s already that all employees, regardless of categories, are protected from being fired without unjust cause. Blue-collared employees cannot be fired based on their sex, age, religion, and other details about themselves that don’t affect the way they work. Bouncers, firemen, factory and warehouse workers, and even janitors are jobs anyone can do regardless of their personal information.
In fact, employers cannot even fire people due to their mental health and disabilities. The one exception is if their disability hinders them from performing their job well. A person with a fear of fire, for example, cannot make a good fireman. Or a person with claustrophobia cannot become a miner. Otherwise, if the condition doesn’t affect the way they work, the employer doesn’t have to know about their employees’ mental health condition or fire someone because of it.
Safe Working Conditions
Every worker has the right to safe and humane working conditions, reasonable working hours, and appropriate pay. While white-collared workers get the benefits of an air-conditioned office while they work, blue-collared workers deserve a workspace that won’t cause injury through accidents. The U.S. Department of Labor ensures this by performing inspections and imposing fines or even shutting down businesses that don’t comply with the mandated safety standards.
Construction workers, for example, must be given appropriate safety gear. They should never enter projects without protection nor should the employer cut costs by removing any safety precautions in the workplace. Factory workers must also be wearing appropriate attire and, in factories where toxic or harmful substances are made, additional safety steps must be taken to prevent employees from coming into contact with these substances. Or, if the worker drives, the car should be in working conditions and free from the risks of driving. One such risk includes the windshield glass cracking, says one auto glass shop in Newmarket.
Unions are organizations inside companies that speak on behalf of the employees too far down the chain for top-level employees to hear. If one factory worker complains about work conditions, it’s highly likely that their complaint will never get past their supervisors. But if many employees are complaining about the same thing and management still doesn’t take their complaints seriously, unions are the voice of the employees and argue for better working conditions and wages.
If the company feels like increasing work hours or cutting wages just to save, a union has the legal authority to negotiate. Employees have an option of joining the union and join in the collective bargaining, but they don’t have to. If the unions are unable to reach a deal they want, they are allowed to stop work and strike).
Basic Employment Benefits
Just because an employee’s job can be considered blue-collared does not mean they do not deserve anything less than the government-mandated minimum for all employees. A full time blue-collared employee has the right to minimum wage, health coverage, social security, and (when let go), unemployment benefits.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, workers must receive minimum wage of at least $7.25 an hour. This varies in different states, though, as some states impose higher minimum wage rates. Some businesses only pay the bare minimum provided in the act, while other businesses choose to be generous and willingly provide more than the provided minimum. However, the Act does not protect part-time and contractual employees.
Full-time employees who work at least 30 hours a week in most medium-to-large businesses also have the right to minimal health insurance. Unfortunately, the Act and some state laws provided do not say the minimum coverage required, so many companies opt for the minimal coverage provided to avoid paying penalties for non-compliance.
All jobs, regardless of category, have some amount of risk. But an injury in an office setting is less likely and less severe than an injury in a factory setting. In cases of blue-collared jobs that have a high amount of risk, there may be a hazard pay included for the risk provided. However, this is not required by law and it is up to the employer to add this on top of their employee’s base salary.
Employees are still important members of their employer’s company, regardless of the jobs they do. Without them, the company would not be capable of operating smoothly and productively. While many blue-collared jobs involve unskilled labor, that isn’t an excuse to take advantage of people working these jobs. Employers must adhere to the law and provide their employees with what it due to them.
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