What is the Reason for Posting a Labor Laws Poster?

Dale Marshall

All employers in the United States are legally required to display posters summarizing elements of some federal labor laws. States also impose similar requirements with respect to certain state laws. Employers are obliged to display up-to-date posters where they can be seen by employees and applicants. Some, with no common area accessible both by employees and applicants, must post two sets.

Certain labor law poster requirements apply specifically to contractors or subcontractors on public construction projects.
Certain labor law poster requirements apply specifically to contractors or subcontractors on public construction projects.

The labor laws poster with which most Americans are familiar is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) poster, usually called the minimum wage poster. It notes the current minimum wage as well as information on overtime, child labor and some other critical components of the FLSA, including enforcement. Another well-known labor laws poster, produced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), addresses job safety and health. This poster advises workers of some of their rights under OSHA, such as the right to notify their employer and OSHA of unsafe worksite conditions without fear of retribution.

Employees can ask for leave to care for a newborn baby or newly adopted child under the FMLA.
Employees can ask for leave to care for a newborn baby or newly adopted child under the FMLA.

These are two of the five labor laws posters required by the federal government’s Department of Labor (DOL) to be posted in every workplace. A sixth, pertaining to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), must be posted by every employer with at least 50 employees. In addition to these six fundamental posters, there are five others applicable only to those employers that meet certain conditions, such as contractors or subcontractors on public construction projects. In each case, the language of the poster is mandated; the employer may not post its own summary of a labor law.

Some employers, then, could conceivably be required to post 11 federal labor laws posters in addition to those required by the state where the worksite is located. New York state, for example, has seven posters for all employers, and two additional posters for public sector employers like police departments and public schools. From the government's perspective, the posters are critical elements of labor law whose substance must be presented to employees in their workplaces. Many employers, though, see the requirement to display the posters as an unfunded mandate.

Each labor laws poster must be displayed in a place visible both to employees and applicants. Although the Department of Labor provides .pdf files from which the posters can be printed, most employers choose not to print and display each labor laws poster on its own, side-by-side with all the others. In many cases, the issue is one of space — many employers don't have sufficient bulletin board space, or even wall space, to accommodate all the mandated posters so they can conveniently be seen and read.

Most employers elect a simple solution. They purchase large laminated posters that incorporate all their required posters. These posters have been reviewed by attorneys who guarantee their compliance with the appropriate statutes. The companies that produce these posters also undertake, for an additional fee, to monitor legislation and regulations and alert their clients whenever any change in the labor laws necessitates an updated poster.

Workplaces must display posters listing laws passed by Congress as part of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Workplaces must display posters listing laws passed by Congress as part of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

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