What are my wage rights as a miner?

Miner’s Rights and Responsibilities

You have the right to safety, wages, and training under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, as amended. You are also protected from retaliation for making safety complaints, and from interference with your exercise of protected rights.

Your Right to Pay as a Miner Idled by a Withdrawal Order

 MSHA can issue withdrawal orders to operators that violate the Act or MSHA standards or who fail to abate violations, or because of imminent dangers. Under Section 111 of the Act, you are entitled to pay if you are idled because of a withdrawal order issued to the operator. For example:

  • If you are working on the shift when a withdrawal order is issued, and you are idled by the withdrawal order, you are entitled to your regular pay for the time lost for the balance of the shift. If the withdrawal order is not terminated before the next shift, all miners on the next shift are entitled to be paid at their regular rate for the time they are idled, up to four hours.
  • If you are withdrawn from the mine or part of the mine and idled because the operator does not comply with any mandatory safety or health standard, you are to be paid for lost time at your regular rate for the time you are idled, or for one week, whichever is the lesser.
  • If the operator fails to comply with a withdrawal order issued under the Act and keeps you working in the area where the order applies, you must receive your full compensation for the time the order is issued plus an amount equal to your full compensation for the time you worked after the order was issued.
  • Note: If you are a miner working to correct the condition that resulted in the withdrawal order, then you are not working in violation of the order and are not entitled to double pay.


If you or your representative believes you are entitled to compensation but have not received it, you must file a complaint with the Commission within 90 days after the idle period began or should have begun. The Commission’s procedural rules can be found at 29 CFR 2700 or at http://www.fmshrc.gov.

Who is protected?
Miners, representatives of miners, and applicants for employment have rights under the Mine Act. All persons (including supervisors, contractors, construction or demolition workers, and truck drivers) working at a mine are considered to be “miners” and may exercise the rights given them by the Act.


We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your rights as a miner.

For additional assistance, please contact:

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Office of the Assistant Secretary: (202) 693-9414 or AskMSHA@dol.gov

When you contact DOL, all discussions with us, including complaints, are free and confidential. Your name and the nature of the complaint will not be disclosed to your employer. The only time we would share such information is when necessary to pursue an allegation, and we would only do so then with your permission, or if required by a court.

You have additional rights and responsibilities as a miner
You have a right to:

  • File or make a complaint of an alleged danger or safety or health violation to a Federal or State agency, a mine operator, an operator’s agent or a miner’s representative.
  • Participate in proceedings under the Act such as: testifying, assisting, or participating in any proceeding instituted under the Act, or filing a complaint with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.
  • A medical evaluation or to be considered for transfer to another job location because of harmful physical agents and toxic substances. (For example: a coal miner has the right to a chest x-ray and physical examination for black lung disease [pneumoconiosis] and potential transfer to a less dusty position if the miner has a positive diagnosis.)
  • Withdraw yourself from the mine for not having the required health and safety training.
  • Refuse to work in unsafe or unhealthy conditions. NOTE: You must notify the operator of the condition and give them an opportunity to address the situation.
  • Exercise any statutory rights afforded by the Act.
Need more information?
The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under Federal employment laws.