Employee Rights and Obligations

Note: The following information applies in Australia, and may also be relevant in many nations of the world that are developed economies. However you should check with the Industrial Relations laws in your own nation.

Employee Rights

Employees have rights in a number of areas. These include:

  • Freedom from harassment and sexual harassment
  • Right to join a union
  • Right to work in a safe workplace
  • Right to fair remuneration

Sexual Harassment

All employees have a responsibility to behave in a manner that is not offensive or threatening to co-workers. It is the employer's responsibility to create a workplace climate that is free of sexual jokes, comments, innuendoes and actions that could cause embarrassment or offence to workers. People in management, supervisory or senior positions need to be aware that making unwanted sexual advances toward subordinate workers is generally deemed sexual harassment. In circumstances where employees are subjected to sexual harassment and matters are taken to court, the employer company often receives a heavy financial penalty.

Right to Join a Union

Employees have the right to decide whether to join a union or not. In this decision they must be free from harassment or intimidation.

Safe Workplace

Employees have the right to work in a workplace that is free from industrial hazards and is not injurious to health. Workplaces should have adequate lighting, heating, ventilation and appropriate safety equipment.

Employee Responsibilities

In exchange for payment and protection that the law provides, employees are expected to act responsibly and ethically. Key areas here include punctuality, confidentiality, objectivity, integrity and safety.

Punctuality

Lateness and unpredictable attendance cause difficulties for employers. People who exhibit poor punctuality are a burden to the rest of a work group.

Ethical Behaviour

Good ethical behaviour includes:

  • Conducting proper dealings with customers/clients and suppliers (ie no conflict of interest or fraud)
  • Responding to competitors' behaviour without transgressing the law
  • Complying with governmental regulations
  • Providing good products or services
  • Observing good environmental practices
  • Providing support to work colleagues
  • Ensuring fair staff selection and recruitment practices
  • Providing good quality of work

Obedience

Employees are expected to be obedient to all lawful orders from their employer, or employer's agent (e.g. manager). Employees are expected to carry out work assigned to them (the job description) in the manner requested by the employer provided it isn't against the law.

Confidentiality and Privacy

Employees must not misuse and information about clients or company personnel. Under the Privacy Act, information can only be used for the purpose for which it was collected.

Safety and care

Employees are responsible for acting with all due regard to safety, at all times. They have a responsibility to observe the legal safety regulations. They can be held responsible if safety equipment such as clothing provided by the employer is not worn in the workplace. Employees must give consideration to the health and welfare of co-workers.

(C) Leo Isaac 2005

 

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