According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the average employee between 25 and 54 with children spends 8.9 hours a day working and only 1 hour a day eating and drinking. Seems about right. In our workaholic solar system, the office is the sun, and the employees are the asteroid belt, or something, revolving around it (we're not space experts). Whatever the metaphor you choose to describe it, and whatever industry you're in, working will likely take up the biggest chunk of your day, and the government is well aware.

While some of us keep in our own little bubble at work, no business is exempt from following standard labor practices set forth by the United States Department of Labor. In fact, there are 180 federal laws set in place to help regulate the practices of 10 million employers and protect the rights of 125 million employees country-wide. If your workplace is law-abiding, you'll have the required labor law posters visible to all employees on the premises. But do you ever take a moment to read them? Many employees are not aware of their breadth of rights, and many employers (especially for small businesses), are not aware of them either. These three impertinent labor laws are essential for any 9 to 5'er, or 9 to 9'er, to know.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Under the laws of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as OSHA, employees are required to work in a safe environment free of hazards that span a variety of categories including scaffolding, electrical, and machine safety. However, even if you don't work in a visibly "dangerous" environment, or if the problem you are experiencing will not cause serious injury or death, OSHA still protects you under De Minimus violations. While inspectors wouldn't fine a company for this, they will speak to the employer and keep the complaint on file.

Regardless of knowledge of OSHA violation, all employees have the right to file a complaint and request a workplace inspection if the employee believes there is a health risk for violations that currently exist or existed in the past 6 months. All confidentiality will be upheld. To file a complaint online, click here. You can also fax, mail, or call in a complaint, here. You will get protection from retaliation if you file a complaint. This means, you can't be fired, demoted, or transferred as a result of the complaint.

For more on health violations that could be lurking in your workplace, click here.

Family and Medical Leave Act

We all think we know about maternity leave, right? But there's always confusion as to whether there's a certain time limit, whether or not it's paid, and does that go for adoption, too? Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers of 50 or more are required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees. Eligibility includes within one year of the birth or adoption of a child, or a serious illness of the employee, employee's spouse, child or parent. This leave is not required for other family members or close friends.

Eligibility also involves having worked for the employer for at least 1 year, and at least 1,250 hours (that's a little over 52 days), 1 year preceding the leave. For more on whether you or your employee are eligible for for workplace leave, click here.

Wage and Hour Division

While many of us work 40-hour-per-week jobs, certain divisions keep employees working long into the night. But how do you know when you're working overtime? Can employers tell employees they're not allowed to work overtime?

According to the United States Wage and Hour Division, covered, nonexempt employees are required to receive overtime pay for hours exceeding 40 per workweek (this also means a regularly recurring period of 168 hours or 7 consecutive 24-hour periods) at a rate of one and half times the regular. And yes, for employees over 16 years old, there is "no limit" on the number of hours they may work in any given workweek. However, overtime pay is not required when employees work on weekends or holidays.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, "employ" means "to suffer or permit to work." The workweek includes all the time during which an employee is required to be on work premises or to their assigned workplace. The workday includes the time in between which the employee starts his or her "principal activity" and ends it: "The workday may therefore be longer than the employee's scheduled shift, hours, tour of duty, or production line time." This fact means that an employee can voluntarily keep working after his or her shift is up, to "finish an assigned task or to correct errors." Whatever the reason, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that these hours be paid, as they are spent doing work.

For more information on overtime and other wage laws, check this out.

Labor laws are impertinent. They protect the rights of the most valuable assets to any business: its employees. It's essential to be aware of the U.S. labor laws in order to comply and uphold the business standards set in place to keep America's labor force safe.

For more on state-specific labor laws, click here.

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Why You Need Cometeer Coffee: Coffee You Can Take on the Go

Cometeer Coffee

There’s an internet trend that says that everyone has three drinks: one for energy, one for hydration, and one for fun.


Hydration drinks are usually seltzer, a sports drink, or good old-fashioned water. Fun drinks can be anything from boba to kombucha to a refreshing fountain sprite. But the drink you choose for energy says the most about you. Are you a chill tea drinker? An alternative yerba mate devotee? A matcha-obsessed TikTok That Girl wannabe? A chaotic Red Bull chugger? Or are you a lover of the classics, a person after my own heart, who just loves a good cuppa joe?

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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