Construction Employees' Rights & Responsibilities in the US

March 28th 2024

There were approximately 10,755,099 people employed in the construction industry in the US in 2023. And that number is expected to grow even further according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With so many people working in construction, it’s important now more than ever to understand the rights and responsibilities that come with the job. From fair pay standards to safety regulations, there’s a lot to wrap your head around. But don’t worry, you won’t need to navigate this complex landscape alone.

In this guide, we’ll be taking a deeper look at the specific rights and responsibilities of construction workers as outlined by key construction labor laws. By the end of it, you’ll have gained a clearer understanding of your entitlements and obligations within the industry.

This Article Covers:

Two workers standing in front of a construction site.

Construction Fair Labor Practices

As per the Fair Labor Standards Act, construction workers are entitled to fair labor practices including the right to a minimum wage and overtime pay.

As it stands, the minimum wage for non-exempt construction workers is the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. For workers under a federal contract, the minimum wage is set at a higher $17.20 per hour as mandated by Executive Order 14026.

Young workers under 20 years old, on the other hand, can be paid a lower minimum wage of $4.25 per hour but only during the first 90 consecutive calendar days after they start working for an employer. It’s important to note that minors are subject to various restrictions on the kind of work they can perform in a construction site. They’re also protected by US Child Labor Laws for construction.

When it comes to overtime pay, the rate is one and a half times the regular hourly rate for hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. This means that if a construction worker earns $10 per hour, their overtime rate would be $15 per hour for every hour worked beyond 40 hours in a week. 

Now, there are a few caveats to the minimum wage and overtime rule. For one thing, the minimum wage only applies to construction businesses that have two or more employees and an annual gross sales volume of $500,000 or more.

In cases, when an employer’s sales volume is below the threshold, employees engaged in interstate commerce, such as moving goods between states or working on the expansion of existing facilities of commerce, are still protected by the FLSA regarding minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.

Leave and Time Off Entitlements for Construction Workers

Construction workers, like employees in other industries, have rights when it comes to taking leave and time off from work. One important law that helps protect these rights is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under FMLA, construction companies that employ more than 50 people must provide employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year for certain reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or dealing with their own serious health condition. To be eligible, construction workers must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and logged at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months.

FMLA leave provides construction workers with the time they need to deal with important family or medical issues without fear of losing their jobs or health benefits. During FMLA leave, employers must maintain the worker’s health benefits as if they were still working, and they must reinstate the worker to the same or equivalent position when they return from leave.

Access to Safety Information and Training

Construction workers need to know how to keep themselves safe on the job. And to do that, they need access to safety information and training related to the tasks they’ll be assigned to. 

The following are some of the rights that construction workers have when it comes to accessing important safety information:

  • Right to Information: Workers have the right to know about any potential risks at their workplace. If they’re dealing with hazardous materials, the employer should give workers info sheets about them. They should also train workers on how to handle them safely.
  • Right to Access Records: Workers should be able to access certain records related to their work. This includes records of any injuries or illnesses they’ve had because of their job. They can also see records of anything that’s happened at their workplace, like tests for hazards such as chemicals or loud noises.
  • Right to Training: Workers should receive training about any dangers they might face at work. This includes how to prevent accidents and how to use safety gear properly. This training should be conducted in a language they can understand.
  • Right to Protective Equipment: Construction workers are entitled to gear to keep them safe. For construction work, this could mean things like helmets, safety glasses, gloves, or gear to prevent falls. The employer should give workers this equipment for free.

Right to Safe Working Conditions

Given the dangerous nature of construction, safety is of utmost priority in the industry. Every construction employee is entitled to safe working conditions. This right is protected by federal law.

Workers in construction have both the right and responsibility to report unsafe working conditions. If they notice any hazards or risks on the job site, they should immediately notify their site supervisor or employer. They can also refuse to work in situations where they would be exposed to a hazard.

In situations where the site supervisor or employer fails to take action to mitigate the risks, employees have the option to request an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA is responsible for ensuring safe and healthful working conditions for employees across various industries, including construction.

Protection from Wrongful Dismissal

Workers who choose to report unsafe conditions to OSHA are protected from retaliation by their employer. This means they cannot be unfairly punished, such as through termination of employment or withholding of wages, for exercising their right to a safe workplace.

Construction workers also can’t be fired based on age, race, gender, or disability. Discrimination based on these factors is illegal under laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 If you believe you’ve been wrongfully dismissed, you may have legal options to seek justice and compensation for the unfair treatment you’ve faced.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you to seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for the use of this guide.