Your income and career pies have several government bakers and takers: local, regional, state or provincial, federal and, increasingly, global-all with fingers and eyes on those pies and how they are sliced. Like the family dog, government can be your best friend, until it bites you, in countless ways and times, including its big tax bites and season. Hence, it's a good idea to know what to expect from government-as friend or otherwise.
A government comprises local, municipal, regional, state, national or global authorities of a city, state, country or international community. With respect to employers, workers and workplaces, there are countless ways in which governmental regulations, monitoring, intervention, assistance, sanctions, etc., impact virtually all aspects of work and careers. In some instances the role of a governmental body is advisory, e.g., World Health Organization; in others, executive, judicial or legislative, e.g., congresses and parliaments, courts of appeal and departments of labor.
At all levels, standards and issues of legal compliance, licensing, health and safety, minimum wage, protected rights and worker categories, environmental protection and use, employee benefits and myriad others fall under the gaze, if not authority, of government. Where it is not obligatory to be aware of the details of most of these, it may be smart to know many. Fortunately, the Internet has made that kind of information more plentiful, more accessible and more current-either in the form of government-sponsored websites and information, or independent government-focused counterparts.
The ambiguity of the phrase "government for the people" is central to the role of government in the sphere of employment: Not only is the role of government in the workplace conceived as being for the benefit of workers, but also for them as a proxy invested with the authority and power to serve as such. Accordingly, you should be familiar with not only what government can and should do for and to you and your job, but also with what authority and scope.
In China, for example, worker geographical mobility, e.g., from rural to urban areas, has traditionally been severely restricted and controlled by system based on "hukou"-local home registration. A looming issue closer to home is the question of whether to govern-mentally mandate surrender of social media passwords to employers or the government as a prerequisite for employment-a policy prospect that has raised intense privacy fears.
These are but two examples-dramatic, but only the smallest representation of the scope of government impacts on work. .An instructive and stiff challenge is to find a single aspect of your work that has no governmental dimension-and to ask how long that will remain so.
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