This is a guest post from Steven. Steven is the Senior Partner and co-founder of Miracle Mile Law Group. Steven always knew his calling involved helping ordinary people, not corporations, so he started Miracle Mile Law Group, where he exclusively represents employees in claims against their employers.
Employees often believe that their employers understand and follow all applicable wage and labor laws. In practice, however, thousands of large and small companies in Asia-Pacific and elsewhere in the world commit workplace violations every day.
Employment laws in effect in most countries are complicated. Most employees have little to no idea of their rights regarding minimum wages, the maximum number of working hours, vacation time, privacy, commissions, and more. Most workers don’t even know when their employers violate workplace laws.
Laws and regulations in place to protect the rights of workers vary across countries. At times, there may be some variations within the states or provinces located in one country. But, there are some common types of workplace violations that employees encounter nearly everywhere.
Prior information on the subject can help you guess if people violate your rights. You will, however, need to consult an experienced employment law attorney in your city to find out if you have a valid claim and whether you should pursue the case.
Here in this post, we will shed light on the five most common examples of employee workplace violations.
Minimum Wage Violations
Many employers steal workers’ paychecks every day or month by giving wages that infringe on applicable minimum wage laws. Unfortunately, such breaches affect the lowest-wage workers—those who can’t afford to lose earnings.
Minimum wage rates in the Asia-Pacific countries are different. Keep in mind that some states and cities within one country may have higher minimum wages. So, it’s a good idea to learn about the minimum wage rates applicable in your location.
Some countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Pakistan, Singapore, and the Philippines have defined monthly minimum wages. India and Myanmar have daily minimum wages. Other countries, such as Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Taiwan, have labor laws that mandate hourly minimum wages.
A whistleblower is someone who reports an illegal activity to the authorities. They can be anyone from an employee to a stakeholder who witnessed unlawful activity in an organization.
A whistleblower may voice their concerns publicly or report the matter to law enforcement agencies. And many employers retaliate against such whistleblowers. The company may even dismiss or deny them employee benefits.
Not all countries in the APAC region have whistleblower protection laws in place. For instance, while Malaysia and Indonesia have enacted whistleblower protection acts, the Philippines is still debating such an act. Thailand has no specific laws aside from the Labor Protection Act and the Labor Relations Act that may deal with whistleblowing in the workplace. Singapore also does not have a dedicated law, but protecting whistleblowers can be done through other statutes such as the penal code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
If your employer does retaliate against you for whistleblowing, consult an employment attorney to discover laws applicable to offer you protection.
How employees are classified determines the kind of their entitled benefits. Contrary to popular belief, job title and description do not determine how you can categorize an employee.
Companies often hire independent contractors or onboard workers for ongoing projects via a third-party recruitment agency but continue to treat these workers as full-time employees. It may be among the workplace violations committed by your employer. Businesses resort to such illicit activity to avoid offering worker benefits, including minimum wage, overtime pay, paid leaves, health insurance, and more.
Singapore reported 300 cases of employee misclassification in 2019. This practice is more common in sectors like construction and mining, but companies operating in nearly any industry can resort to such tactics.
In case your company directly controls where, how, and when you work, it is possible that labor laws applicable in your state or country classify you as an employee and not as a contractor. So, you may be entitled to standard employee benefits.
Many small and medium-scale employers are simply in the dark about exemption rules. So, if you are in doubt if your employer is violating your employee rights due to misclassification, consider bringing the matter to your supervisor’s attention. If necessary, seek legal counsel.
Not Paying for Work Breaks
Are you a full-time employee? Does your company pay you for scheduled breaks? If your company attempts to withhold wages for recesses, you may have a valid claim under labor laws in place at your location.
In the case of employees needing to work through scheduled break time, such as lunch breaks, they need compensation. But, many employers would skip compensating team members for their extra work.
It is also a good idea to understand how your monthly salary package is structured. Find out if your employer is making the correct deductions. There are times when employers illegally deduct a significant amount of money from employees’ salaries.
Harassment or unequal treatment based on one’s nationality, religion, race, age, or gender in the workplace may be illegal in your country—with laws in place to prevent such behavior in the workplace. Employers too may take steps to eliminate such biases.
However, according to the International Labor Office (ILO), women continue to be the largest group receiving workplace discrimination. Migrant workers in the Asia Pacific region also face intolerance, xenophobia, and racial discrimination at work.
In the absence of expert legal advice, it may be challenging to get suitably compensated for a violation in the workplace. So, it is a good idea to consult a trusted attorney specializing in employment laws applicable in your country.