Human resources play a very requisite role in every business entity. It is against this backdrop that all HR related concerns and issues should be taken seriously and given the professional touch they deserve. HR Focus magazine has tackled a lot of your human resource issues by bringing you captivating stories and articles in each edition. As the year draws to a close, we bring you tit bits of these topics which can land you in the arms of the law if not handled tactfully
Discrimination of any form is prohibited at all levels of our society. In corporate governance, it is a serious matter that can easily be a source of legal battle for employers if not handled with care. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has developed laws, regulations and conventions that protect the interest of every employee.
In our Ghanaian set up, the Labour Act, 2003 (ACT 651) Section 127, subsection (1) to (4) has outlined what constitutes discrimination. Discrimination has a negative impact on productivity, work-life balance, employee bonding, etc. Even in setting up an office, the kind of furniture and general working condition can discriminate against the physically challenged.
This is a long standing issue dating back to history. Most employees and, on few occasions, employers have suffered some form of harassment. We refer to the perceived sexual harassment towards women/female job seekers or employees and even though it is true that to a large extent that it happens, but there have been instances where male job applicants have also suffered one form of harassment or the other. Abuses and other forms of intimidation can also constitute harassment. Even gestures, postures and sometimes phone calls and SMS’s that create inconveniences for the other party can even be bases for sexual harassment, so be careful.
Improper Handling of Termination:
Employee disengagement can come from various sources; it could be non-performance, disciplinary issues, redundancy, etc. In all such scenarios, it is important to handle it with professionalism.
The Labour Act permits employers to disengage employees but termination should be in conformity with Law. Internal disciplinary processes should be exhausted fully, together with appeal processes where necessary. Employers should note that all employee entitlements should be paid when the disengagement process is concluded. All this should be enhanced by an effective HR staff disengagement policy/process.
Occupational Health and Safety Concerns:
This is also an important aspect of an employer/employee work life. Often, we do not pay attention to this side of HR activity but it has a very serious and negative impact on our lives as individuals. A wrong office set up and working environment can affect our health and productivity. Part XV, Article 118 to 121 and 122 to 126 has expressly and clearly stated the obligation of employers, employees and the regulatory body when it comes to health and safety at the work place. There should be periodic checks, updates and compliance of agreed on safety measures. Failure to do this can land organizations in court and even see to the closure of businesses.
It is an essential part of employee benefits, which is not negotiable. Employees should be allowed to proceed on their annual leave as and when signed o‑ and agreed upon. This helps facilitate work-life balance where people get to relax, de-stress from work load and get to attend to personal and domestic issues. Other types of leave include maternity, sick, study, compassionate, etc. Some companies are even considering paternity leave which, in my opinion, is a very good idea; this is purely discretional at the management level of every organization.
In conclusion, these are but a few of the areas that can land employers in court even though they could be avoided by competent HR professionals. It has also been established that, all HR concerns or seemingly work related issues could be potential legal matters. If not dealt with tactfully and professionally, it could plunge the company into unnecessary legal battle thereby wasting man hours, resources so needed for very important business activities and also give the organization negative publicity and dent the corporate image. BY KOFI OKYERE AMPADU