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.
Employees have rights in a number of areas. These include:
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.
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.
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.
Lateness and unpredictable attendance cause difficulties for employers. People who exhibit poor punctuality are a burden to the rest of a work group.
Good ethical behaviour includes:
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