A history about State, Federal, and OSHA labor law posters
If you thought there was a master plan, or single cohesive approach behind the concept of labor law posters—think again. Just as our country’s labor laws have increased and developed over time, so has the long list of notices employers must display in the workplace.
The last century has seen major developments in U.S. labor law and regulation. After the establishment of the Department of Labor and the introduction of child labor laws in the early 1900s, the 1930s were a significant era in labor law history. Many of the acts we still display posters for today-including the Fair Labor Standards Act , the National Labor Relations Act, for example-were introduced in the 30s.
The 1960s were another significant period for labor law, introducing several discrimination and equal employment regulations such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Another quarter-century later and the 80s and 90s ushered in several more key pieces of legislation, including OSHA, the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The complexity of regulations, frequent revisions to the statutes and addition of new legislation meant that it became increasingly more difficult for employees to keep up with their rights. It takes an extensive amount of research and expertise just for the employer to stay aware, so in an attempt to help the average layperson understand how each regulation applied to their employment situation, many of the statutes included a requirement for certain provisions to be posted in the workplace.
While efforts were made to summarize the regulations into understandable notices employees could review, this was not a concerted effort. The concept of labor law posters does not represent a single attempt to combine the mish-mash of a century’s worth of regulations into one explanatory poster.
Instead, each poster and notice requirement was authored independently as the rule was established or modified. The result is an ever-growing list of requirements that employers are supposed to post in the workplace—and that’s just the federal requirements. In addition to the posters all companies must display, each state has another, separate set of requirements that must also be posted.
In many ways, the requirement for posters is the ultimate indication that employers have not always been readily accepting of labor law, and not necessarily willing to follow the mandates. To prevent employers from manipulating the system, or failing to follow requirements, the posters allow employees to understand what they should expect from their employer.
But the notices also have benefits for the employer. Just the ability to demonstrate you displayed the posters can often help to defend or prevent a lawsuit or challenge. And by staying up-to-date on recent poster requirements, you’ll automatically stay updated with your key responsibilities under the various Acts.
Consequently, it’s important to ensure you display the notices prominently in the workplace—and it could even be helpful to record which notices you display, the date of posting and where you posted them. This can all help to deflect a disgruntled employee. If the Department of Labor audits the workplace and determines you do not have posters in place, you could find yourself being investigated for additional violations over and above the employee’s original complaint.
The posters you display should be the most updated version, containing the specific wording required by statute that details the federal and/or state labor laws, workplace rights and regulations at issue. But there’s no ongoing, targeted guidance provided regarding labor law posters—nobody’s going to come and notify employer of what is needed or new changes that have been made—but yet if you accidentally miss a required change or fail to display a poster, you could be found out of compliance, leading to sanctions, citations, penalties and/or fines.
Making it even more difficult for employers to comply is the fact that there is no one set format or style of poster. The way information is presented varies between regulations, as does the level of detail. Some posters must be displayed exactly as specified—even down to the font and size—whereas the wording of other posters is left to the employer to write. This inconsistency—and the fact that a single solution for businesses to easily meet their obligations didn’t exist—meant a new industry was born, developed to help employers comply with the myriad of ever-changing rules and regulations by offering compliance packages, services to track legislation and automatically inform employers of updates, as well as all-in-one poster solutions.
The specific posters you are required to display will depend on the number of employees you have, the type of business you operate and the state the business works in. To meet customers’ compliance needs the all-in-one solution contains the required federal posters all employers will need to display and a similar state solution is offered to stay compliant with the individual poster requirements from each separate state.
Following is a list of standard Federal notices you should be prepared to post in the workplace.
- Equal Employment Opportunity All employers covered by non-discrimination laws—which is virtually all companies, including private employers, state and local governments, educational institutions, employment agencies and labor institutions—must post the “Equal Opportunity is the Law” poster in a conspicuous place. The notice discusses the protections provided by various EEO laws, such as:
- Title VII, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), or national origin;
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination;
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protecting the rights of applicants and employees aged 40 or older;
- Equal Pay Act, which governs equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender;
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information, such as genetic tests and services for applicants, employees, or their family members, or the individual’s family medical history.
- Retaliation for filing, reporting, opposing a discriminatory practice or participating in an investigation.
The poster also informs employees of what to do if they believe discrimination has occurred, who to contact and the various time limits in which to do so.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)This poster requirement—notifying workers of the various protections of the Act—applies to primarily private employers engaged in a business affecting commerce (in other words, almost every business.) Employers in states with OSHA-approved plans should post the equivalent notice of that state. The OSHA poster covers the following rights and responsibilities:
- Employee right to confidentiality when notifying OSHA about workplace hazards.
- Employee right to request an inspection.
- Employee ability to file a complaint regarding OSHA-related discrimination or retaliation.
- Employers must post citations, correct hazards and display the required poster.
- Employees are required to comply with safety and health regulations.Employees are entitled to medical and exposure records.
- Employers must keep the workplace free from hazards and must comply with health and safety standards.
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)This poster requirement applies to any employer with an employee or employees subject to FLSA, meaning almost every employer will be covered. It’s important to remember that FLSA is more than just the overtime provisions. Just because your employees are exempt from section 7 of the Act does not mean your workforce isn’t subject to other provisions, such as the minimum wage requirement. However, if section 7 does not apply to your staff, the law allows you to modify the poster accordingly, to demonstrate that the overtime provisions are not applicable. The notice must stay posted in a conspicuous place that allows employees to read it. The poster covers several main topics:
- The current federal minimum wage.
- Overtime regulations—1.5 times the regular rate of pay for hours over 40 in a workweek.
- Child labor: age requirements, the maximum limit of hours youths may work, and the hours of the day they may work—for example, it cannot begin before 7 a.m. or end after 7 p.m. except during June 1 through Labor Day.
- Tip Credit regulations, and the requirement of at least a $2.13 cash wage, which, when combined with tips, must equal the minimum wage or else the employer must make up the difference.
- Enforcement and penalties for employers that fail to comply.
- Exemptions, special provisions and additional state laws.
- Employee Rights for Workers with Disabilities Paid at Special Minimum Wage This poster, covering specific provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act, and/or the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act must be displayed by employers that have workers who are covered by special minimum wage certificates. As an alternative to displaying the poster in the workplace, the employer can provide the notice directly to impacted workers. The poster provides information on the following subjects:
- Commensurate Wage Rate—providing that a worker with a disability affecting his or her productivity may receive a wage proportionate to the wage received by workers who do not have disabilities impacting their productivity.
- The types of disability that may or may not affect productivity.
- Review and adjustment of the commensurate rate.
- Workers receiving the commensurate rate must receive the full fringe benefits, such as health insurance or vacation and sick days listed on the wage determination.
- Workers must be notified both orally and in writing about the provisions of the certificate under which they are employed.
- Employees are entitled to petition the Department of Labor for a review of their wage rates.
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) The full text of this notice must be provided to workers affected by the Act. The most convenient way to do so may be to display the notice with your other posters in the workplace. But this isn’t necessarily required, as long as anyone entitled to rights and benefits under USERRA receives the full text. Some employers may choose to hand deliver the information, or send it by mail. Be advised that if you choose an option other than posting the information, it could be more difficult to prove you met the notice requirements if you were challenged. The notice covers information such as:
- The right to be reemployed, providing the employee provides advance notice, has five years or less cumulative service while with the same employer, was not separated from service dishonorably, and returns to work timely..
- Retaliation and/or discrimination in employment due to uniformed service or exercise of USERRA rights is prohibited.
- Health insurance protection and continuance during periods of military service, or reinstatement afterward without any waiting period or exclusions.
- Procedures for filing a complaint.
- Family and Medical Leave Act All public agencies, at the state, local and federal level, as well as elementary and secondary schools—both public and private—and any private sector employers that have 50 or more employees on the books for at least 20 weeks during the year must display this poster. Employers must consider the native language of their employees when posting the notice. If workers are not proficient in English, the poster must be provided in the language the employee speaks. The poster must be displayed in a prominent location, visible to both applicants and employees. Refusal to post the notice can result in fines of up to $100 per incident. The poster covers the following topics:
- Basic leave entitlements—up to 12 weeks for the employee’s own serious health condition or to care for a spouse, parent or child with a serious health condition.
- Military leave entitlements—up to 12 weeks for qualifying exigencies and up to 26 weeks to care for a servicemember with a serious illness or injury arising out of the line of duty.
- Protection of health benefits and employment during covered leave.
- Eligibility requirements, such as working 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months and working for the employer for at least one year.
- Definition of a serious health condition.
- Employee responsibilities—to provide advance notice when practicable, and at least 30 days’ notice when the leave is foreseeable and to provide sufficient information for the employer to make a decision.
- Employer responsibilities—to provide workers with a notice of eligibility and inform staff if the leave will be designated as FMLA-protected.
- Prohibits employers from interfering with, retraining the use of, or discriminating against employees taking FMLA leave.
- Enforcement and complaint procedures.
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act Private employers should prominently display this notice in a place where it can be viewed by applicants as well as employees. The poster prohibits private sector employers from using lie detector tests either during employment or as a screening procedure for applicants. The poster addresses the following topics:
- Companies and circumstances where screening is permitted, such as federal, state and local governments, private security and pharmaceutical firms, or screening of certain employees suspected of embezzlement.
- Examinee rights—such as written notice before testing, the right to refuse or discontinue a test, and the right not to have test results disclosed to unauthorized persons.
- Enforcement and complaint reporting procedures.
- Notice of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws This notice, from the federal Office of Labor-Management Standards, informs employees and union members of their rights under the law. Note that the requirement to post this notice has been temporarily suspended pending the outcome of court decisions. If enforced, most private-sector employers will be required to display the notice. The poster covers:
- The National Labor Relations Act—the right to organize, form, join or assist a union; bargain collectively; discuss terms and conditions of employment with coworkers or a union; take action, strike or picket; not do any of these activities.
- Unlawful employer activities—an employer may not prohibit union discussion or solicitation during non-work time; discourage union activity or take adverse action because of it; threaten to close the workplace if a union is elected; conversely, promise benefits to discourage or encourage union support; spy on union activity.
- Unlawful union activities—the union may not threaten or coerce employees; refuse to process grievances from non-members; maintain discriminatory standards, take adverse action against an employee or cause discrimination by an employer because of union-related activity or failure to support the union.
- Enforcement and complaint filing.
Make sure all these posters are displayed prominently in a conspicuous location. It's not enough to post them online—that won’t satisfy the requirement—you must physically post them in the workplace.
And while we've covered the standard Federal posters your business will need, don't forget to check on any additional requirements imposed by your State. To view your full posting requirement mandated by Federal, State, OSHA, and local agencies, please click here and select the State to view its labor law posting requirements.
||Have suggestions or a question you would like added? Click here to send us an e-mail
|Choose Your State to View Requirements: