If you are an employee in a difficult workplace situation, it can be crucial to know what kind of work-related lawyer you need: an employment lawyer or a labour lawyer. They have similar roles in the workforce, but there are definitive contrasts.
To understand the difference between employment lawyers and labour lawyers, you first need to understand the fundamental differences between employment law and labour law.
Employment law handles individuals and their employment contracts and does not deal with unions, organized labour groups, or any collective bargaining agreement. Labour law is different since it aligns itself with work rules established by the Ontario Labour Relations Act, where the employee is an active member of a collective bargaining agreement or union.
There are a few other differences between the tasks and responsibilities that both employment lawyers and labour lawyers take on. Many responsibilities are similar in nature, but how the workforce is justly served is done differently. Here are a few of those differences:
1. Minimum wage vs. Union Contracts
One of the most common issues that employment lawyers are tasked with solving is the issue of minimum wage. It is the responsibility of the employment lawyer to observe the minimum wage requirement of the province, state or jurisdiction and ensure that the employer is abiding by these minimum wage standards. This is not limited to the wage, but it also extends to overtime pay. The labour lawyer, however, deals more in union contracts whether it is on behalf of the team of workers looking to form a union or the employer counter-negotiating with the terms put forward.
2. Adverse Work Conditions
The employment lawyer and labour lawyer have different ways of handling adverse work conditions. The employment lawyer, in accordance with labour laws and the right to refuse unsafe work, enforce certain safe working practises. With the labour lawyer, if there are any adverse conditions happening in the workplace, the labour lawyer would help the union identify these hostile conditions and work out a deal that would handle them properly.
3. Other Work Benefits
When it comes to additional work benefits like family and disability benefits, the employment lawyer can offer advice on how employees can get the benefits that they are entitled to according to the local jurisdiction’s laws on workplace benefits. If an organized union is left without effective benefit coverage, then it falls on the labour lawyer to help employees and employers reach a deal on their renewed contracts that include benefits that satisfy both parties.
In all, both employment lawyers and labour lawyers are essential to the employment environment. Though they handle certain situations in significantly different ways (employment law leaning more on government regulations and labour law stressing the need to negotiate contracts and help unions through disputes), the end result is meant to make the workplace more fair for employees.