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Many go to their job each day, working hard and earning a wage, without really knowing exactly what their legal rights are. In fact, people often assume that their employers are abiding by the necessary rules and laws, but that may not actually be true. 

The best way to make sure the employees are making the most out of their job – including earning fair wages, taking the allotted number of breaks, or benefiting from health and safety practices – is to make sure every person and business stays informed!

Employee Legal Awareness Day is just the right time to check in at work to make sure everything is on the up-and-up.

Employee Legal Awareness Day was established by an Australian lawyer, Paul Brennan. His aim in founding the day was to emphasize the importance of legal education for employees and small businesses, the purpose of reducing their risk of legal problems.

Employee Legal Awareness Day isn’t only about laws though. Mr. Brennan also suggests that employees should increase their awareness of their company’s policies. According to the founder of the day, it is important for employees to have a copy of the employee handbook, where it is possible to find information about all sorts of employee benefits and rights, such as the bereavement policy, attendance and punctuality, conflict of interest statements, non-disclosure agreements, and a variety of other topics.

So, every year employees can get together in honor of this day to celebrate and remember their legal rights. They can feel empowered by their knowledge and participate fully in the legal system that supports them and their businesses.

Although Employee Legal Awareness Day did originate in Australia, this day can certainly be celebrated in offices all over the world. In every place where people are free to access legal services and their legal rights, this day can be openly recognized. In countries with less legal freedom, perhaps the day could be marked by employee demonstrations in the streets or other protests to try and highlight the importance of legal awareness and legal practices in relation to employees and businesses.

Take some initiative on Employee Legal Awareness Day by celebrating with some of these ideas and plans:

Get Educated About Worker’s Rights

One great first step in celebrating Employee Legal Awareness Day is to request a copy of the employee handbook and read it to learn about specific company rules and practices. But there are other resources that also exist.

For instance, for those who live and work in the US, the website for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a great place to get information about the rights of employees, as well as instructions on when and how to file a complaint. Another resource is the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website as well as the US Department of Labor site.   

Learn About the History of Worker’s Rights

While in most modern countries today there are legal protections for employees, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, it doesn’t take looking back too far in history to see times when employees were treated poorly, abused, or even lost their lives because of poor working conditions. Employee Legal Awareness Day might be an interesting time to learn a bit more about some of those throughout history who fought against the big companies and abusive employers to gain workers’ rights for the average person.

Whether heading over to the local library or performing an online search, check out some of these important historical events that had an influence on employees’ rights:

  • Atlanta Washerwoman’s Strike of 1881
  • New York City Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911
  • England’s Local Government Act abolishes workhouses in 1930
  • US National Labor Relations Act is passed in 1935

Report Unsafe Practices

While it might feel risky, sometimes it is necessary to report a business for not holding up their legal requirements to treat their employees well. Also, it is important to note that OSHA offers protection from retaliation for workers who make reports. Not just in honor of Employee Legal Awareness Day but every day, be sure to document and report any unsafe or illegal practices.

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