In the U.S., we have several different government agencies that help protect the rights and safety of our workers. This lesson explores and explains these agencies and how they relate to management.
Regulations and Management
Take a moment to think about all the aspects that it takes to run a business. I am not talking about employees or filing cabinets or telephones, but more along the lines of all the government policies an organization must follow in order to be compliant with governmental regulations.
Since these regulations are present and enforced by several different organizations and laws, managers must work within the guidelines provided by the government for each specific type of regulation. For example, if someone drives a forklift truck, it needs to be done safely, or if someone has a baby, that person has the right to take time off from work.
However, before we get any further into this lesson, it's important to understand that what we're covering here represents some, but not all, of government regulations or agencies.
The first organization of government regulation we'll look at is the OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The OSHA assures a safe and healthy work environment and working conditions for men and women. The OSHA accomplishes this by providing training, education, and information for organizations to follow and practice at their locations. As it relates to management, it's vital an organization pays attention to these regulations because if they don't and they're found to be out of compliance, the OSHA has the power to close the facility until they get back in compliance.
NIOSH, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is a U.S. federal agency that conducts ongoing research to prevent worker injury and illness. Typically, they would focus on areas such as employees working with chemicals or unsafe working conditions, somewhat similar to the OSHA, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety is researching these aspects on an ongoing basis. In many ways, they look ahead to see what could happen with unsafe materials or products, then enact regulations to ensure safety.
As an example, we have to think back to when coal mining was far less protected as far as health issues than it is today. Some agency had to investigate and research how to prevent miner illnesses from breathing in the materials they were working with, and that agency was NIOSH. What this means to management is that at any time they may have to change the way they do business or process materials due to the findings of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The National Labor Relations Board, otherwise known as the NLRB, is a federal agency that has the power to protect employees' rights to organize and to form unions, should the employees wish to do so. The organization also works to prevent and repair any unfair labor practices that organizations might commit to help safeguard unfair practices towards employees by private organizations.
As one might imagine, management has to pay close attention to the National Labor Relations Board and the work that they do. We are not saying that unions are good or bad, but should a group of employees decide to unionize or if there are charges that an individual or group of individuals could bring up against an organization to the National Labor Relations Board, management would need to defend their actions as it relates to that issue.
One of the newest government regulations is the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. This act allows eligible employees to take unpaid protected leave for specific reasons, such as the birth of a child or to care for a spouse or sick child that has a serious health condition. What this means from a management perspective is at any time for valid reasons an employee could be gone for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period for a family medical leave act condition. While the act itself is great for employees that have these issues, as a manager, one can see how it's challenging to work with an individual or individuals that could suddenly have an unscheduled 12-week absence.
As you can see, there are different groups and organizations that handle government regulations that have different levels of involvement. Some address the working conditions of the organization, while others address the actual employees themselves. Management must be in tune to these different regulations and how they impact their organizations in order to be compliant and avoid any type of penalty or prosecution. Remember, the key examples of government regulation agencies are:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: assures a safe and healthy work environment and working conditions for men and women.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: a U.S. federal agency that conducts ongoing research to prevent worker injury and illness.
- National Labor Relations Board: a federal agency that has the power to protect employees' rights to organize and to form unions should the employees wish to do so.
- Family Medical Leave Act: allows eligible employees to take unpaid job protected leave for specific reasons, such as the birth of a child or to care for spouse or sick child who has a serious health condition.