Work Rules: Categories & Influences

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  • 0:01 What Are Work Rules?
  • 1:03 Compensation Work Rules
  • 2:29 Rights & Obligations
  • 3:47 Work Rule Influences
  • 5:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

In this lesson, we'll define work rules. You'll learn about the two categories of work rules: compensation and rights and obligations. We'll also discuss internal and external factors that influence work rules.

What Are Work Rules?

Armand just joined Blue Skies Airlines. As he walks through the corporate office, a co-worker asks him to join the union. A union is a collective group of workers committed to improving the work environment, benefits, and wages of its members.

The co-worker explains to Armand the benefits of joining a union and hands him a pamphlet of information about an upcoming meeting. He explains that the corporate executives represent the airline's interests, and a union represents the workers' interests. Armand thinks it will be a good idea to attend the meeting to gain more information.

The facilitator, Ashley, starts the meeting by welcoming the members and introducing the topic: work rules. She explains that work rules, negotiated by the union and the company's management, offer standards for a worker's environment, benefits, job responsibilities, and duties. For the rest of this lesson, we'll explore two categories of work rules: compensation and the employer and employee's rights and obligations. We'll also discuss external factors that influence work rules.

Compensation Work Rules

Ashley explains that employees often join unions when they believe the employer has treated them unfairly. Unionized members enjoy higher wages and better benefits and working conditions. In order to bind the employer to these higher standards, work rules are written into a contract. Compensation work rules set standards for wages, benefits, overtime, shift pay, vacations, and holidays.

For example, a work rule may require the employer to pay newly hired maintenance workers $10 above minimum wage. If the amount of the minimum wage changes, the new hires' hourly wage will change as well. Because this work rule is fairly straightforward, there is little room for grievances or complaints.

Then, Ashley discusses a case that is less straightforward. In this instance, the work rule states that workers receive paid time off on all federal holidays. Unlike the previous work rule, this one caused a firestorm of negotiations between the union and employer. When the federal government added a new federal holiday, workers assumed they would have the day off with pay. However, the employer argued that because the newly added holiday was not part of the original work rules agreement, it should not be included as paid time off. The union, on behalf of the employees, debated that all federal holidays should include any new additions. After several months of debate and mediation through a neutral third party, the employer agreed to include the new federal holiday, with pay, in the agreement.

Rights and Obligations

Rights and obligation work rules outline the employee's and employer's duties, responsibilities, and authority. A strike is an example of an employee's right. A strike is a protest by employees, caused by unresolved grievances. Set termination procedures are an example of an employer's right. An example of an employee obligation is the requirement that employees report to work 15 minutes before the start of their shift, while an employer's obligation could be to ensure the safety of their workers by hiring one security guard per 100 workers.

Not all rights and obligations are so straightforward, however. Ashley provides another example by explaining that Blue Skies Airline maintenance workers who typically work indoors have the right to receive protective work gear if required to work outdoors. However, maintenance workers who regularly work outdoors in the course of employment have a duty to furnish their own gear. Another work rule states that employers are obligated to compensate airline pilots for travel to and from their hotel for overnight stays.

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