I wrote an article in 2015 about Employment Law and how organisations have shown a blatant dis-respect for the rule of law. The reason why I have decided to revisit the issue of Employment Law was because of Carrie Gracie who has brought public focus on poor organisational behaviour.
Carrie Gracie BBC China Editor gave evidence to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. She spoke of her disbelief when she found out that she was being paid less than her male counter parts. She is not the only BBC female journalist or editor in this position. It now transpires that there are over 100 woman that have pay disparities.
I was once put in a position when asked by a Director to offer a male Senior Manager more than a female Senior Manager. I pointed out to the Director under the Equality Act 2010 it was unfair to pay a female employee differently than a male employee for doing the same work. I went on to inform the Director that if the female employee was to find out she would have a case against the organisation which would be duly upheld. The Director said OK but still asked me to make the offer. I was aware that if I spoke to the CEO about what had just occurred he would do nothing to help as he himself had embarked in some unfavourable practices.
I have come across two types of HR professionals in my career ones who like me outline the importance of ensuring the organisation complies with Employment Law and then there are the other types who turn a blind eye moreover they are complicit in actions that would be deemed unlawful practices. These types of individual are those who cultivate poor behaviours and poor business cultures. They seek to avoid positive change and ensure that their importance to the executive suit is maintained.
The employee is often left in dark about Employment Law although they may feel aggrieved they do not realise they have protection under Equality Act 2010. It surprised me that Carrie Gracie stated that she did not know her rights relating to equal pay under the Equality Act 2010 I wonder how many more people out there have no idea of their rights.
I was asked to give a presentation last year on Mediation for A2i Dyslexia one of the last slides covered the Equality Act 2010 because it became clear to me that some people with Dyslexia were not aware of their rights under the Law. Similarly when speaking to people about discrimination the lack of awareness surprised me.
Employment Law needs to be seen in the same light as Criminal Law. Tougher action needs to be taken when organisations and individuals are in breach. There seems to be lack of holding organisations into account. Why is it so easy for organisations to offer non-disclosure agreements? Again Carrie Gracie said she had done a lot of research about tribunal cases, spoke to lawyers and what was evident although the BBC had portrayed that they didn’t have many cases going to tribunal there had been many non-disclosure agreements. What were they hiding?
During the early stage of my career I was asked to draft a non-disclosure agreement because they wanted to payoff an employee which I felt was inappropriate. I decided to resign from the organisation after this because I could not accept that they were willing to sweep things under the carpet and pay off someone who really deserved their day in court.
Being in HR has great rewards if you really want to play apart in the development of the organisation. Strong employee engagement comes from giving support, nurturing and valuing. If organisations wish to behave like bullies their employees will become negative, unresponsive and uncaring of the organisation. Maslow’s Theory (Hierarchy of Needs) should really be put in to practise because that really shows how organisation using thoughtfulness can make a difference.
One could see the Equality Act 2010 as an addendum to Maslow’s Theory. An organisation needs to do the right thing to support their employees. They need to confront those who choose to discriminate or act unfairly towards others no matter what level of the organisation. Those in HR who are afraid to stand up to those in power should ask themselves if they are being complicit in negative behaviour?
Employees, know your rights you can speak to ACAS they can give you confidential assistance. You can also go online for information Guidance don’t leave yourself ignorant. Those of us in HR have a part to play to support employees and make them feel that they will be listened too and know that action will be taken against wrong doing.