Employee Rights


By

S. Dhinesh Babu
Asst. Professor
Dr. A. Mustaffa
Director
H. Moideen Batcha
Senior Lecturer
MBA Department
Mohamed Sathak Engineering College
Kilakarai-623 806
 


Introduction

Employee rights are any rights which refer to the status of being an employee.  These rights may be moral or legal.  These rights include some of the professional rights such as the right to disobey the unethical instructions and the rights to express their dissatisfaction on the company policies without any bad effects from the employer side.  It also implies all the basic human rights which are reasonable to the employment situation such as the right of not to be discriminated against.

Employee rights also have the institutional rights which occur safely out of an employee's contracts created by organizational policies or contracts.  These rights are considered as "Contractual Employee Rights".  The rights to receive a salary of a certain amount, right to receive some benefits from the company such as periodic increments in the pay and profits sharing etc, are some of the examples of contractual employee rights.

Another form of employee's rights is called as "Non Contractual Employee Rights".  These rights can occur even if not formally recognized in the specific contracts or company policies.  These rights constitute the right to choose outside activities, right to employer confidentiality, right to due process from employer and right to non discrimination and absence of sexual harassment at the work place.

FOUNDATIONS/BASES/PRINCIPLES OF PROFESSIONAL RIGHTS

Professional rights and duties can be justified by reference to ethical theories such as Rights ethics, Duty ethics and Utilitarianism.

(i) Right Ethics

Right theories emphasize "the human moral rights as one of the fundamental grounds of morality".  This theory derives the right of professional conscience from a basic human right to follow legitimate interests which implies a right to follow moral obligations.  Right theory also indicates that the general publics have human rights to be warned of dangers to their safety due to technological innovations/findings.  Public rights make a basis for considering the rights of professionals indirectly.

(ii) Duty Ethics

As per duty theory, the employers have a duty not to harm the public by placing barriers in the works of the engineers who try to meet their obligations to the public.

As per this theory, the employers have an obligation to the engineers, not to use the forces which would create compromise of personal moral integrity.  No employer has the right to threaten engineers with the loss of jobs for refusing to work on projects which create damages to the public.

(iii) Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism theory argues that the greatest good is promoted only by allowing engineers to follow their obligations to the public.  Rule-utilitarian tries to establish the best rule or policy in regard to the employee's rights in order to promoting the public good.  Act-utilitarian should look at each and every situation whether and how far the professionals should be permitted to exercise their consciences in following their duties to the public.

Choice of Outside Activities

All the employees have the right to pursue non-work activities of their own choice without coercion or compulsion from employers.  This is also a part of the human right of employees to pursue legitimate interests without any interferences from the employers.  But there are some bad violations of this right as it has not been protected by any law.  For instance, an employer can scold heavily or threaten his employee when he tries to involve in outside activities and also an employer can slash out or fire by words his employee when he does some activities which harm the image of the company.

In order to protect the public image, an institution can put some limits on the employees' rights to engage in outside activities which are listed as below,

* When the outside activities of employees lead to violating to detriment to their job duties, then the rights of employees to engage in outside activities become limited.  For example, an employee has a right to smoke, but not in work spot which is supposed to be a pleasant and safe work environment for other workers.

* When the outside activities of employees form a conflict of interest, then employers have the right to take action against the employees.  For example, stop an employee from moon lighting.

* Employees do not have the right to damage their employer's interest outside the office-hours.

Privacy

It is the ability of an individual or group to keep their lives and personal affairs out of public view, or to stop information about themselves from becoming known to people other than those whom they choose to give the information. Privacy is sometimes related to anonymity although it is often most highly valued by people who are publicly known. Privacy can be seen as an aspect of secutity—one in which trade-offs between the interests of one group and another can become particularly clear.

The right against unsanctioned invasion of privacy by the government, corporations or individuals is part of many countries' laws, and in some cases, constituions or privacy laws. Almost all countries have laws which in some way limit privacy, for example taxation normally requires passing on information about earnings. In some countries individual privacy may conflict with freedom of speech laws and some laws may require public disclosure of information which would be considered private in other countries and cultures.

Privacy may be voluntarily sacrificed, normally in exchange for perceived benefits, but often with little benefit and very often with specific dangers and losses. An example of voluntary sacrifice is entering a competition; a person gives personal details (often for advertising purposes), so they have a chance of winning a prize. Another example is where information voluntarily shared is later stolen or misused such as inidentity theft.

Right to privacy of employees means the right to stop access to and use of information about oneself i.e., the employers should not interfere into the private life of their employees.  This right is also limited in some cases by employer's rights.  The following examples will show the function of employers' conflict with the right of employees' privacy.

* Before appointing an employee for the post of cashier, the employer can ask questions about their criminal records.

* Before hiring a person in the sales department the employer should conduct personality test.

* A supervisor can unlock and search the table of his subordinate without his permission when he had some doubts about the subordinate's trust – worthiness.

* In order to avoid theft, employer has the right to fix hidden cameras in the work spot.

Some of the above mentioned examples sometimes may be misused by the employers in order to manage the organization effectively.  The unwanted interference of the employers is said to be morally problematic and need some type of justifications.

For instance, a company may stick tiny microphones on the identity cards of its employees without informing them, so that the employer will be able to hear what they talk and where they are.  This activity upsets the workers and the employees would object to the tricks made by the employer.  But at the same time, if they are fully communicated about the device at the time of their appointment that the device is to be used as a condition of employment, the employees may not be in a position to object.

According to the viewpoint of utilitarian, such activity would make the worker unhappy and it would lead to a general anxiety among the employees.  Their conversational flow would be affected.  The use of such device would ruin the trust of the employer.  It would also lead to some kind of harassments.

According to duty ethicist, this kind of activity breaks the duty to respect the people and demoralize them.  The intimate relationships may be affected and the personal freedom of employees may also be affected.

So, the right to privacy is limited by the legitimate actions of employers' to obtain and use information of employees only for effective management of the organization.  But this information should not be informed to the outsiders.  Then only the trust relationship between employee and employer can be maintained.

Right To Due Process

It is the right to fair procedures in order to safeguard the exercise of other rights.  This right provides fair procedures in firing / slashing, demotion and taking disciplinary actions, There are two procedures in implementing the right to due process.

* Written explanations are owed to employees who are discharged, demoted or transferred.  The reasons for their punishments should be clearly informed to them in a written format.

* An appeal procedure should be established that is available to all employees who believe that their rights have been violated.  This procedure should be simple and easy to use and work quickly.

Government employees and labor union members have these procedures.  And for private companies, they establish their own procedures.

Conclusion

The rights of employees are summarized as below.

Employees are entitled to:

* be paid the right wage for the job they do;
* protection from unfair dismissal;
* sick leave, annual leave, public holidays, family leave and long service leave;
* have an unfair contract of employment which is not covered by an industrial award or a contract for services, amended or invalidated; and
* freedom to belong to or not belong to a union.

Employees are expected to:

* arrive at work on time
* dress suitably for the job (wear safety equipment if required);
* work to the best of their ability throughout their work day;
* respect their employers, colleagues and customers;
* take care of employer's property;
* follow the employer's 'reasonable and lawful' instructions;
* obey safety rules;
* ask for help if they need it;
* know what the employer expects the employee to do if the employee can't be at work for any reason;
* not discriminate or harass others in the workplace; and
* not act in a way that puts the employee – or others – at risk of injury in the workplace.

References

1. David A. Decenzo & Stephen P. Robbins, (2007), "Fundamental of Human Resource Management", Eighth Edition, Wiley India Edition, New Delhi.

2. Dhinesh Babu, S. (2007), "Professional Ethics and Human Values ," Laxmi Publications, New Delhi.

3. Dwivedi, R.S. (2007), Human Relations and Organizational Behaviour," Macmillan India ltd., New Delhi.

4. Mamoria, C.B. & Gankar, S. V. (2007), "Human Resource Management," Himalaya Publishing House, Mumbai.
 


S. Dhinesh Babu
Asst. Professor
Dr. A. Mustaffa
Director
H. Moideen Batcha
Senior Lecturer
MBA Department
Mohamed Sathak Engineering College
Kilakarai-623 806
 

Source: E-mail August 21, 2008

           

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