Table of Contents

Workplace, Labor & Wage Regulations

1. 4-Day Work Week

Work weeks for much of the labor population should consist of optional four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, still keeping the workweek length at 40 hours. A scheduling system could be devised at the employer level so that, on average, only 20% (one/fifth) of the labor population participating in this 4-day workweek is off on any given weekday. While it may be harder for some businesses to continuously staff their workplace, perhaps enough built-in or engineered flexibility could be found to make this proposition feasible, allowing the business to be sufficiently staffed for the full five day workweek.

4dayworkweekThe 4-day workweek should apply to most workers except those such as seasonal workers or educational workers which normally receive extended vacation periods, like 10-week summer vacations, etc.

Such a system would give people one free weekday during which they could do things that they may not be able to do conveniently during weekday evenings, weekends, holidays, or whenever they are not working, such as going to the dentist/doctor, visiting their children’s school, staying home to wait for a scheduled repairman, signing for a special delivery, or to do any other business/stuff that can usually only be conveniently done during normal business hours within the workweek. A workweek consisting of four 10-hour days would also have numerous other benefits, the most obvious of which are reduced traffic congestion for everybody, reduced wear and tear on cars and whatever other modes of transportation are used to get to and from work, and a significant increase of up to two hours or more per week of free time per individual because of the elimination for the need to get ready for and travel to and from work for a fifth time during the week. This proposal may also help reduce the general level of stress of society and possibly give people more time to slow down, think about the meaning of life, organize, help other people, and do other things.

If there is a one-day holiday that occurs during any particular week, then that should be counted as the day of the week that is taken off and the other four days should be worked. Ideally, during normal weeks, the weekdays that employees are off should probably be rotated among workers through any combination of employee requests and employer demands. These days off could be scheduled for terms lasting a month, quarter, year, or whatever length of time both the company and workers decide upon. Though this change will make life a little more complicated, especially at first, once a system is worked out, the benefits should prove themselves worthy to all involved.

Part time workers could be used to fill in for periods of expected high labor demands. For example, 4-, 6-, and even 8-hour workdays could be instituted in combination with either 4- or 5-day workweeks.

7-Day Work Week?

Using this kind of employee time-shifting scheduling system, it may be possible to have stores, government offices, etc., open for 6 or even 7 days a week. This would make life far more convenient for so many people, because they could conduct their normal business during the ‘weekend’ when such places would otherwise be closed. This would mean that traffic during the week would be lightened because some of that demand would be shifted to the weekends. Of course, that also means that traffic during the weekends would be significantly heavier. However, more people would benefit from the reduced traffic during the week than would be disadvantaged by the increased traffic during the weekends simply because of the fact that more people are on the roads during the weekdays as opposed to the weekends.

In summary, spreading out the use of all infrastructures (roads, buildings, etc.) across more time (either a longer day and/or a longer week) would mean that such infrastructures are empty for less time. Yes, utility consumption would increased, so assessments must be made to see if the benefits of lower traffic/congestion, more worker ‘free time’, etc., justify these additional costs.

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2. Non-Wage Compensation

No Work, No Pay

No business or company should be required to provide its workers with anything other than direct wage or salary (financial) compensation for work performed. Any type of insurance (health, unemployment, etc.) for the worker (with or without including his family) or any other benefits should not be required by law. In addition, employees should pay 100% of the payroll tax without employers paying half or any other portion of it. Pension benefits should also not be required to be offered to employees. People should save up for retirement during their working years. The savings gained by not offering benefits such as these should, instead, be reflected with higher wages, enough to compensate for their loss.

The same should apply for military employees.  They should get wages (that when averaged out over their service years) are roughly equivalent to what past and current military service members are estimated to have earned (both direct wages and benefits throughout their life). This way, when service members retire from the service, they are able to invest their earning themselves to provide for their future needs, including health insurance needs.

See this link from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for an idea of how much compensation is tied up in benefits (roughly 1/3).

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3. Absent Day Wages

Employers Not Required to Provide Paid Days Off

Paid sick days, paid vacation days, paid personal time off days, etc., should not be required by law. Companies should not be required to pay workers for any work day during which they do not show up for work. No work, no pay. However, job security should be guaranteed for workers who call in sick or take a vacation up to a maximum number of days per year or according to some minimum standard the government has set up and/or according to the company’s own policy, whichever is less stringent.

Pay Structure for Absent Days Should Incentivize Coming to Work 

Nevertheless, if companies do decide to pay workers for sick or vacation days, etc., they should do so at a rate that is significantly below the worker’s normal wages, such as 50%. For example, if a worker would normally earn $100 per day at work, calling in sick would allow him to earn only $50, thus costing him $50 in lost wages. However, if this same worker, instead of using his sick days, saves them until the end of the year (or even indefinitely, ideally), he could be allowed to sell his sick days back to the company for $125, a pay rate significantly higher than what a normal work day would earn him. To discourage the accumulation of hundreds of days of sick or vacation time, the compensation a worker receives for not using this time and selling them back to the company should be based on the hourly wage rate the worker was receiving at the time that the sick or vacation day accrued to his banked days. Furthermore, it should not be adjusted for inflation. The longest accrued days in a banked days account would always be used first. Such policies would discourage workers from calling in sick without really being sick. Of course, it would also encourage workers who are truly sick to come to work anyway, which would be another problem. But at least the incentive to call in sick would be lessened a bit.

Days Off Should Be Lumped Into One ‘Absent Days’ Basket

There shouldn’t be separately defined sick days, vacation days, personal time off, etc. All absent days should be lumped together and just referred to as ‘absent days’. This would prevent the tendency for people to lie about the reason for requesting a day off and tend to lessen the awkward conversation/relationship between employee and employer when they illegitimately ask for a day off due to illness. However, if an employee exceeds the allowable number of days off allowed by the company, the employer should have lots of leeway (as is often the case now) in determining the validity of the claim, but also should have the ability to reassign, demote, or (if abuse of the policy is ascertained) fire the individual in question, once his/her banked days have been used up and have gone into the negative by a certain, previously specified, significant amount.

Making Up For Absent Days, Late Arrivals & Early Departures

Also, workers should be allowed to make up for absent days, late arrivals or early departures, by working extra hours (at a rate of two hours for every hour of absence, for example) on other days of their choice (with permission from management) throughout the year. They could also work to purchase hours or days to place in their ‘absent days bank’ at the same rate (two hours of work for every hour of absence allowance earned). Workers who did not give sufficient advanced notice (as defined by the employer) of any absence to the employer should be penalized for this extra burden placed on the employer by being required to pay for or purchase their absence time with significantly more hours of work, perhaps at a ratio of 2.5 or 3 hours of work for every hour of absence.

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4. Poverty Level Definition

The poverty level is the minimum level of income which is deemed adequate in a particular area. Such calculations should occur for every county, since there is often a significant variation in the cost of living between counties. The poverty level for a single person (household size of one) should be defined as an income at or less than the negative 1.75 standard deviation of the income of the county average. The same calculation should occur for each size of household. This would mean that right around 4% of the population of any county would be defined as having income at or below the poverty level.

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5. Minimum Wage, Overtime & Other Labor Pay Policies

Minimum Wagenormaldistributioncurve

The minimum wage should be set at a level at which a single individual, working full time (2,080 hours per year), is able to fund a lifestyle right at an expense point at the negative 1 standard deviation of the estimated reasonable cost of living for a single person averaged throughout the county of residence. This cost of living would include all the essentials such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical, taxes and miscellaneous.

Overtime Completely Voluntary & Based on 40-Hour Workweek

No company should be able to force an employee to work overtime. Employers could offer incentives for them to work overtime, but should never fire them or penalize them for refusing to work overtime. Overtime pay should be based on the total weekly hours worked, not on the total daily hours worked.

Employee Overtime Availability Agreements With Employers

Employees could enter into certain agreements with their employers in advance to work overtime for a specified number of hours per month, per quarter, etc., so that the employer could be guaranteed a certain extra amount of dependable labor to get through rare, unexpected labor bottlenecks. For example, an employee could schedule days of the week that overtime labor could be requested by the employer, such as Monday through Wednesday, except for the second Tuesday of the month. Employees would be required to remember which days they have permitted for possible overtime labor to be requested, because if the employee is called but cannot perform that overtime on that day, maybe some penalty system could be devised, such as perhaps the requirement of  2 hours of free labor at some time in the future for every one hour of overtime labor requested.  The employee should retain the right to change the days which they choose to be available for overtime work at any time prior to being called upon to perform that overtime work.

Employee Bidding for Overtime Work

The employer should retain the right to choose whomever they want to fulfill overtime labor requirements. But to prevent potential employee grumblings about who got picked and who didn’t, perhaps some sort of bidding system could be set up, either at the time of the labor shortage or preferably in advance, so that the prices paid for overtime would tend to reflect and better match the desire to work with the need. Bids by employees for the price of overtime work in the future could be set for a weekly or monthly basis, and maybe statistical data for past years could be studied to help determine the price by studying the employees’ desire to work with the need. Because the federal minimum payment regulations for overtime work stands at 1.5 times that wage rate, that may be the starting point for the bidding. Workers could bid progressively lower until no worker outbids another. Conversely, if no worker chooses to work overtime at the starting bid of 1.5 times wages, then the employer may increase overtime pay until someone accepts.

Overtime Pay or Equivalent Time Off

Since the federal minimum overtime compensation is 1.5 times the regular pay rate, employees should be given the option of either overtime pay for overtime work or, instead of payment, could be compensated instead with equivalent time off in the future at that same ratio. In other words, for every hour of overtime worked, the employee should be able to choose to take one and a half hours of regular work off in the future. This should only be an option granted by choice of the employer and employees should never be forced to take this option.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

Governments should never require employers to provide paid maternity/paternity leave, but should require employers to guarantee their employee’s previous position upon their return from leave. Employers which employ more than 56 (measured as the total of all employees across all work sites run by that employer) should be required to provide unpaid maternity and paternity leave for a full 56 weeks so parents have a higher likelihood of celebrating the first anniversary before having to go back to work. Employers with 55 employees would be required to provide a full 55 weeks of unpaid leave. Employers with 54 employees would be required to provide 54 weeks, employers with 53 should provide 53 weeks, etc., all the way down to employers with 12 who should be required to provide 12 weeks. Employers with 11 or fewer employees would not be required to provide any leave time and the employer would be free to dismiss and replace such employees, if so desired.

This leave time should be allowed to be taken either all at once or spread out over time. Employees would naturally need to consult and negotiate with their employers so that an agreeable schedule is worked out for both parties. However, employers should be required to make ‘great efforts’ to accommodate an employee who prefers to take such leave time spread out over more time. For example, fathers may want to take 3 days a week off, or the first month after the birth off and then work only 2 days a week after that for the next 2 months and then work for 4 days a week for the next 4 months. Or, perhaps mothers and fathers may want to work out an alternating schedule of some sort so that the baby will always have one parent at home, for example one week on and one week off for each of them.

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6. Late-to-Work Penalty

Employers should be allowed to punish employees showing up late for work or coming back late from lunch breaks by requiring them to either work for free during their regular shift or to work for free before or after their regular shift. (If the employer requires this time to be made up after an employee’s regular shift, the employer should be sensitive to previously scheduled employee obligations.) The number of minutes late would be multiplied by a certain factor to determine the number of minutes that the employee should be required to work for free. For example, if an employee arrives 10 minutes late to work, that employee’s number of late minutes could be multiplied by 3 so that that employee would be required to work 30 minutes for free, either before, after, or during his regularly scheduled shift, according to what the employer, and to a lesser extent the employee, decides.

These punishments do not need to be fulfilled or satisfied on the same day that the employee was late. In some cases it may be best to have all of these late minutes accumulate to the point where they could all be served in one free day of labor. However, perhaps the best way may be to just subtract each day’s accumulated late minutes (plus the punitive multiple) from each day’s total scheduled labor time. This decision would be up to the employer.

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7. Child Labor

2015_0612_Child_LaborChildren under the age of 15 should not be forced to perform regular paid labor if enrolled in school fulltime. Their primary focus should be schooling, though voluntary paid labor performed during non-school hours should be permitted. If enrolled full time in school, children 15 and over could be forced to perform up to 10 hours of paid labor per week in addition to any voluntary labor they desire to perform. If the child 15 or over is enrolled part-time in school, then 20 hours per week of forced paid labor could be permitted. Children 15 or over not enrolled at all in school would be subject to normal adult labor regulations, and could be forced to work up to 40 hours per week.

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8. Retirement Age

Retirement ages should be pegged to 10 years less than whatever the life expectancy of a person is at age 50. For example, if an average 50-year-old male is expected to live for another 26.4 years, his total life expectancy at age 50 would be 76.4 years. By subtracting 10 years from 76.4 years, we arrive at a retirement age of 66.4 years, which is about 66 years and 5 months. Upon reaching age 66, this new retiree could expect, not just 10 years, but about 15 more years of life because the average remaining life expectancy for a person at age 66 is naturally longer than it is at age 50. People should plan to fund 20 years of their retirement, which is a point significantly past their expected life expectancy. Therefore, this individual would need to have planned for 20 years of retirement, until he reaches the age of 86.4 years. People who live past their planned 20 years of retirement and who own below a certain low threshold of assets, would have their expenses funded fully by the government.

So that planning can be made a little more predictable, this retirement age figure should be calculated, perhaps every 5 or 10 years rather than every year.

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9. Commission Payments, Referral & Contingency Fees

No individual worker should ever be paid based on the number of units they sold or the type of service rendered. Rather, they should be paid through a formula independent of any significant link that may cause a direct conflict of interest between sales and integrity of service. A salary or hourly payment system should be used.

Ban Referral Fees & Contingency Fees

Likewise, referral fees and contingency fees should also be banned.

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10. Gratuity (Tips) – Only for Exceptional Service

The practice of giving tips to workers, like waitresses, taxi drivers, pizza delivery people, etc., should be discouraged. The social set point for tips should be shifted so that tips are only left for people delivering clearly exceptional services. Automatically billing customers for tipping charges should be illegal. Customers should, on their own initiative, arrange for the payment of a tip.

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11. Lunch Breaks

Employers who offer employees lunch breaks of 45 minutes or less should be required to pay for this lunch time at the regular hourly rate. Lunch and break times should all be in addition to their daily working shift. However, if lunch breaks are over 45 minutes long, employers should not be required to pay for this time. Paying for employee lunchtimes would not necessarily increase the cost to employers (perhaps it would even decrease their costs by decreasing their accounting expenses). Employers could simply reduce the hourly rate paid to their employees by a small amount so that the employee would earn the same amount of money under either arrangement. For example, an employee making $10/hour with an unpaid half-hour lunch would be equivalent to an employee making $9.41/hour with a paid half-hour lunch.

Employers should be allowed to require employees to put in a full 8 hours of solid work each day, exclusive of lunch and break times. In other words, employees with a 30 minute lunch and two 15-minute breaks could be required to stay at their job for 9 hours (9 am-6 pm, for example). The 8 hours would constitute the solid work time, while the additional 60 minutes would be the cumulative total of lunch and break times.

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12. ‘Downsizing’ Speed Limit

To help mitigate the negative, often severe effects that mass layoffs can have on an economy, there should be a maximum rate at which companies are allowed to layoff their employees, including employees who are fired and quit. Although employees who quit would be counted towards a maximum allowed quota, no enforced limit would exist on the number of individuals that can quit a company. Compensation for such employees would cease upon there submitting their resignation or at some later time agreed upon by the employee and employer.

Limiting the rate at which small companies can layoff their employees would intrude too much on the flexibility of those small companies. Furthermore, layoffs from an individual small company has a virtually insignificant impact on the larger economy of the region. Of course, cumulative small company layoffs would, and probably normally do, have a very significant impact, but reducing or regulating the rate of those layoffs will prove more difficult to justify and implement practically and would also require too much government micromanagement of the private sector. However, the rate at which large companies layoff their employees can be not only easier to regulate, but can also mitigate negative impacts that are often much more economically noticeable or geographically localized.

Nevertheless, each employer should be allowed to layoff (including firings and quittings) a maximum of 40 individuals per week. This rate is equivalent to laying off about 170 workers per month and 2080 individuals per year. It is also roughly equivalent to laying off one person per hour for eight hours during each official work day of the year, excluding weekends and holidays.

Such a layoff policy would not only limit the economic damage inflicted on an economy during periods of massive layoffs, but would also slightly discourage businesses from taking certain risks, namely risks associated with growing so large so as to create for themselves a potential economic liability if and when the time comes that they need to rapidly reduce their workforce.

Companies engaging in massive layoffs would be allowed to simultaneously tell an unlimited number of workers that they are laid off and could actually prevent them from showing up to work. However, the company would be required to pay each worker up to the day or week that the company is legally permitted to lay them off under this policy’s weekly cap.

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13. Worker Testing, Training, & Safety

Trade Worker Classes

Plumbers, electricians and all other people licensed to work in a particular trade should be required to periodically successfully pass hands-on tests to show their functional understanding of how to work with new materials or new techniques that may have begun to come into use in that trade recently. These tests should be required every five years. The tests should also include sections that cover virtually all other more conventional materials, techniques, etc. of the trade. The idea is to make sure that people working in their respective trades know how to do the work and also to make sure that they at least know about any new developments that may have taken place since they received their licenses or since they last took such a test as proposed here. (Core of this idea came from Julius Ballanco, P.E.)

Food Handler Classes

All people who handle or prepare food as part of their regular jobs should be required to take and pass classes that deal in general with proper food handling, storage, and preparation methods as well as classes that specifically deal with special precautions that should be taken regarding the kinds of foods that they are involved with. In addition, such workers should be required to take refresher and updated classes every five years, at most, which include education emphasizing new developments in the area of food handling, storage, and preparation. Significant food handling, storage, or preparation catastrophes, major errors, or mistakes that made headlines in the news should be discusses and analyzed so that the lessons are sure to be learned.

General Workplace Safety Education

All members of the labor force should be required to take a course on general workplace safety issues, including repetitive strain injuries, ergonomic design, stress management, etc. They should be required to pass a test on this subject once every 5-10 years. People performing jobs with specific or unusual safety concerns should also take these tests at least every 5-10 years or as often as required by their employers.

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14. Workplace and Home Office Safety Standards

The federal government should not dictate how businesses should treat its employees or provide for their safety except for the most fundamental safety and human rights roles like insuring that forced labor and torture is not being used, insuring that obvious or potentially catastrophic safety hazards are taken care of and insuring the payment of minimum wages. The majority of workplace safety regulations should be created by state and local governments. And for small things or potential problems with dubious or uncertain scientific grounding, either no laws should be made or, if they are made, they should allow plenty of time for compliance.

The goal of workplace safety regulations should not be to eliminate every identifiable hazard in the workplace, but rather it should be to eliminate all the obvious and higher risk hazards. Employers and workers should then both be educated about the smaller hazards and they should just be told that injuries may result in the long term and to be careful and maybe recommend that they take precautions.

Federal and state governments could compile and publish a list of recommendations (based on preliminary or tentative scientific or historical data) to which businesses could voluntarily adhere. Each suggestion on such a list could be rated on a 3-point scale to signify the relative importance or benefit of the suggestion.

Home offices in which the workers are either the residents and self-employed or are the residents and work for another entity should not be required to meet workplace safety standards or any other safety standards except the relevant existing ones governing the workers’ residences. However, though outside employers for resident home office workers need not be required to enforce any government safety codes, they may choose to require their home office employees to abide by any regulation that the employer views as beneficial for any reason, including to ensure a certain level of protection for its employees, equipment, products, or productivity.

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15. Occupational Radiation Exposure Limits

Radiation exposure levels in occupational workers should be set at 200 mrems of anthropogenic exposure per year. The limit for all other individuals should be 100 mrems of anthropogenic exposure per year.

Anthropogenic exposure is defined as any radiation or additional radiation originating from a source which would otherwise not have existed if it were not for human activities and manipulations of the natural environment. Building materials, for example, with radiation emissions in excess of one standard deviation above the average of all building materials within the same, broad category, should have this excess radiation classified as anthropogenic in origin.

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16. Limited Sleeping Permitted for Pilots and Crew on Duty

Perhaps, if safety systems and procedures are sufficient enough, pilots, including pilots of passenger planes should be allowed the option of sleeping during non-demanding, non-serious/non-significant portions of the flight. However, at least one member of the cockpit crew should be awake and in the cockpit, at the controls, at all times. All members should be awakened at least 15 minute before major planned events, like takeoffs, landing, etc., or reasonably foreseen/predictable events, like turbulence, flying in or near storms, heavy air traffic, etc. Pilots allowed/required to sleep during very long flights could be allowed to fly beyond their daily hourly limits.

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17. Market Determined Government Pay

As a general rule, government employees should be paid equivalent (no less than 75%) to what they would earn in the private sector, including equivalent military positions.

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18. Permit Non-Disruptive Religious and Political Activities in the Workplace

Religious and political activities should be allowed in schools, workplaces and all other places provided that the activities do not interfere with normal schedules and provided that nobody is forced to participate in, including directly see or hear, the activities against their will (as in a captive audience). These activities may only take place during the ‘free time’ (lunch and breaks) of the participants. Solicitation of religious activities, unless repeated often, should not be prohibited or restricted.

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19. Female Occupation Segregation

Women should not be prevented from working in any profession, including military occupations. In certain lines of work, such as in the military, where males and females working together may pose significant or potentially significant problems or difficulties, such as soldiers in the same platoon, then provisions should be made for some units/platoons composed only of females (if there are enough females willing to participate) that would work relatively independently from males.

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20. Union Membership & Strikes

Membership

No one should ever be forced to become a union member. Employment should not depend, in any way, on union membership. However, unions may be allowed to charge non-union members fees to support the union’s “representational activities” for collective bargaining and contract administration.

Strikes

The employer should not be obligated to make any payments to any employee who strikes during the time they are striking.

Unions should not be allowed to strike unless they have received approval from a majority of its members.

Unions should be prohibited from striking if the pay difference (total compensation package) between union represented employees from the public sector and union represented employees from the private sector is greater than 17%. Neither should unions be allowed to strike if the difference (total compensation package) between unionized employees and non-unionized employees is greater than 17%.

Unions were created largely to ensure safe working environments and decent compensation for workers.  But it seems that increasingly more often, unions are fighting just for ever increasing compensation without reasonable justifications, especially public sector unions. Sure, everyone would like higher pay and more benefits, but such a desire, without an evidenciary basis in fact, does not justify labor-management confrontations.

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