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.
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.