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OSHA issues reminder about worker rights during holidays

The holidays are here, and many Illinois retailers are hiring temporary workers to help manage the associated surge in business. As a result, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Wage and Hour Division have issued a reminder to ensure that employers understand the rights of seasonal workers.

During the holidays, many new employees are stocking shelves, delivering products and working in warehouses. OSHA reminds employers that they have a legal responsibility to make sure these new employees are properly trained and provided with a safe working environment. For example, employees dealing with large crowds during sales events should be trained on pedestrian safety and provided with crowd control measures such as barricades, rope lines and security personnel. In addition, employees working in warehouses should be trained on how to avoid back injuries, falls and equipment accidents, while delivery drivers should be trained on how to safely operate their vehicles and handle heavy packages.

The Fair Labor Standards Act also requires that all seasonal and temporary workers must be paid the wages they have legally earned. Like full-time workers, part-time workers much be paid at least the federal minimum wage. They also must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

A job-related back injury or fall can force an employee to miss work for an extended period of time. To help make ends meet during this difficult time, injured employees are eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits cover an employee's medical bills and provide wage replacement payments while he or she recovers at home. Some employees find it helpful to consult with an attorney before filing their workers' compensation claim. An attorney might help prepare the claim and make sure the employee files for all the benefits he or she is entitled to.

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