What are Basic Employer Obligations?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2019
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In many places, there are basic employer obligations to which employers are require to adhere. While the laws may vary from country to country and even from region to region, employers are typically expected to behave in a fair and responsible way when it comes to employees. Among the basic employer obligations in many places are such things as discrimination-free hiring, safe work environments, and minimum wages. In some places, employers are obligated to acquire workers' compensation insurance as well.

One of the most basic employer obligations in many jurisdictions is the adherence to discrimination-free employment policies. In many places, it is illegal to discriminate against job applicants because of age, gender, race, or national origin. Likewise, it is typically illegal to discriminate against potential employees because of handicaps. If a potential employee is qualified to do a job, an employer is breaking the law if he refuses to hire him because of a disability, the color of his skin, his gender, or his age. Age discrimination laws typically apply to those who are 40 and older.


In many places, basic employer obligations include providing a minimum wage. This means employers in a jurisdiction that has minimum wage laws are required to pay their employees at least the minimum wage set in the jurisdiction. Often, a local area has a minimum wage that differs from the minimum set by the national government. In such a case, the employer is often required to pay whichever minimum wage amount is higher. There are some exceptions to these laws, however, and some jurisdictions do not require employers to pay a minimum wage to professional workers; student workers; people younger than 20; workers who receive tips; and some farm and seasonal workers.

Many jurisdictions also have laws that include workplace safety on the list of employer obligations. In places that have these laws, employers are legally obligated to provide a workplace that is reasonably healthy and safe. The standards that apply, however, may depend on the type of job an employee is performing, and sometimes jobs have inherent risks. For example, the risk of burns may be inherent for welding company employees, but a company that hires welders is usually required to create and adhere to safety practices that protect its employees from accidents.

Workers' compensation insurance is also a basic employer obligation in many jurisdictions. Where required, employers carry this insurance to cover claims for employee injuries that occur on the job. For example, if a person is injured by slipping on a wet floor at his place of employment, he may file a workers' compensation claim with his employer's insurance company. If a company is very small or financially able to act as its own insurer, however, workers' compensation may not be required.


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