Discrimination against workers based on their racial class, gender and disability status in international labour law and domestic ones have being condemn based on the legislation of laws to safeguard and protect people in this social strata. The human resources manager in it the course of executing his or her functions of recruiting workers, developing them and catering for their needs, and terminating their official appointment when the need arise need to take into cognizance that equal treatment is giving out to all personnel of the organization. Thus, legislation as enshrined in the labour law of the country, in line with international labour act should be adhered. Discrimination against certain group of workers or people in workplace tends to demoralize them in putting their best for their organization. According to Asya (2007), those women in higher position who are treated equally tend to be motivated to put in their best for the organization. Workers in an organization are different based on their gender, race and physical ability, thus they need to be treated equally and the management of organizations need to put adhere with fair and equal labour legislation so as to avoid discrimination against certain workers in the workplace. Government of Western economies are beginning to take tougher stand against discrimination of worker.
2.0 CRITICAL ASPECTS OF LEGISLATION
2.1 Contemporary Theories in EO Law
Several theories abound that tends to promote the law on equal opportunity for people within an organization. The thrust of the Resource Dependence Theory is that an organization’s managers will take action perceived to reduce uncertainty for the firm and acquire resources essential to its survival. The theory further has it that “firm would develop and adopt strategies to increase control over supplies of needed resources, increase dominance in the market for needed resources, or seek substitutes for resources in short supply” (Gilbert & Ivancevich, 2000:12). In the practice of human resource management, the workers are considered as the most valued resources in the organization. Without the workers, other resources will be useless. Thus, the equal treatment of workers in the organization would give them the sense of belonging in making them put up a long-term career service in such organization. Considering the difficulty and the resources involve in getting capable hands, it then falls on the management of an organization to treat its workers fairly and equally. Thus, as the Resource Dependence Theory says the manager would take actions to reduce uncertainty and acquire resources to sustain the survival of the firm. The action to be taken by the manager in issue against workers discrimination would be to treat all workers equally, and giving them equal opportunities to develop themselves at their workplace. Formulation of policies for equal treatment of workers and the creation of a workplace environment to promote non-discriminatory workplace goes a long way in sustaining the survival of an organization, as workers would be able to contribute effectively in meeting the organization corporate goals and objectives.
Gender theory advocates for the recognition of equal and fair treatment to people, without cause to gender segregation and discrimination. This theory goes a long way in promoting equal opportunity for people in access to worker, and those already working. In the same vain, International labour law advocates for equal treatment to all categories of workers, and equal pay for people occupying similar position and performing same official functions. The International Labour Organization encourages states to adopt the labour law that tends to promote equal opportunity to people in diverse category. “These instruments stipulate that States actively facilitate fair recruitment practices and transparent consultation with their social partners, reaffirm non-discrimination, and establish a principle of equality of treatment between nationals and regular migrant workers in access to social security, conditions of work, remuneration and trade union membership” (Taran & Geronimi 2002:14).
2.2 New Considerations in Diversity
The critical aspect of these legislations that are aimed at fighting against discrimination is that human rights should be upheld in all situations, and fair treatment to all human being should be considered as utmost goal for the well being and corporate good of people in their workplace or social engagement. Workers should be seem as equal and promotions, placement to functional positions, equal pay and same condition of workplace should be applied across all without favouritisms or discriminations against certain people based on perceived stereotypes. Equal treatment of all workers or people applying to work in an organization will promote a safer society and motivate people to cultivate the right attitude to promote the human course and peaceful coexistence of all human. For instance, people who are discriminated at in workplaces tend to form negative feeling and come up with nefarious attitude that may be detrimental to the safety of the society. Some, in retaliation may result in hostage taking, suicide mission and other crimes against people in a way to settle scores that is given to them in terms of discrimination and unequal treatment. These are what the legislations against discrimination and unequal treatment are trying to prevent, with the fight to create a safer U.K. society.
However, the Equal Opportunity policy whose aim is to create fairness and ensure less discrimination in workplace is criticised against that the policy lack the extra step in harnessing diversity to enhance business. According to Bagshaw (2004), “Good diversity policy not only reduces the negatives, such as bullying, disputes, low morale, and sometimes litigation. It will also bring in extra talent, new perspectives, learning, and limitless opportunities for innovation”. There is truism in the last proposition, but Bagshaw in my view fails to understand that the policy will loose its tight measure in fighting discrimination when it has too much workload to operate. Other internal organs can promote training and capacity building of staffers in organization. The Equal Opportunity policy will be more feasible and effective when it manages the aspect of discrimination and wage gap based on stereotyping.
3.0 INFLUENCING FACTORS IN EQUAL PAY
There are indications of increase public sector claims heard by employment tribunals on equal pay in U.K. “The sector had been particularly hard hit by a sharp rise in equal pay claims, which had quadrupled over the past two years, he said. “The problem has got so bad that employment tribunals in north- east England and Scotland are swamped by public sector equal pay claims” (Taylor, 2007). The role of lawyers relationship with complaints of aggrieved workers on pay inequality where a no-win no-fee lawyers, has increased the number of complaints and incidence of equal pay claims to over 155% since March this year, according to the U.K. Ministry of Justice (ibid)
One significant factor that affects equal pay is the number of hours put in by workers. It is a known fact that men are more endowed to work longer hours than their female counterparts do. Thus, they tend to earn more, considering the higher number of hourly wages, compared to their female counterparts. “…for every ten percentage points higher the proportion of men working in an occupation, hourly wages are boosted by 1% more than women working in the same occupation…” (Olsen &Walby 2004).
Furthermore, some workers are part-time workers. This category of workers cannot earn equal pay with their counterparts who put in full time services and man-hours. According to Harris et al (2007), “Despite family friendly employment policies becoming an increasingly important feature of modern work organisations, career progression was informed by a traditional concept of a career based on full-time working”
Direct discrimination against certain categories of workers is influential factors that affect the equal pay and increase the gap in wage difference. This discrimination comes in form of gender discrimination, racial discrimination. This discrimination goes along with difference in preferences, motivations and attitude to the labour of those classes of workers that are stereotyped against in form of discrimination. This discrimination mainly affect workers productive output and “…have a particularly large impact, reducing hourly wages by 9%” (ibid).
The level of education of those categories of workers being discriminated based on their gender and race, sometimes affects and influences the disparity in equal pay. Some women have lesser education qualification, and sometimes those in a particular race may not have the well withal to continue in higher education; this make them to occupy lower positions in organization.
Thus , a way to ensure fair treatment for these bracket of people who are discriminated against and placed disadvantage there is the need to motivate them with equal pay, especially for those who occupy the same position and put in the same effort and output, but receive lesser compare to their counterparts.
4.0 THE ROLE OF DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION
Outside discrimination based on race and gender, a significant area of workers discrimination is that against people living with disabilities. Disabled persons, even when they are educated are stereotyped against and perceived as unproductive and a stigma to the place of work. Many disabled persons after graduating from college and high schools have a blink future with no hope for a befitting job. This was the situation in United Kingdom until 2000, when the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) was put in place by the British government. “Of all people in Britain without any formal qualifications, over one-third is disabled. Of all people of working age out of work, 40 per cent are disabled” (Disability Rights Commission 2007). There is then the need to adequately carter for the need of this category of people so that there will not be dependent all their lives on their clans and siblings. If nothing were done on the discriminatory path against disabled persons there, U.K. economy would suffer for it, having more dependent persons than those who are employed and working
The role of the Disability Rights Commission has help increase the number of employed disabled persons in different sector of the U.K. economy. Hope for the educated disabled persons are now brightened than 10 years ago. According to Disability Rights Commission (2007), “Disabled people have acquired powerful rights to non-discrimination and equality. There are many more disabled people in work than 10 years ago. Across Britain, housing, the built environment and transport are becoming more inclusive. More young disabled people are achieving at school and staying on in education”.
Discrimination against disabled persons have the influential effect of widening the pay gap between them and there fellow ‘normal’ workers. The proper policy in place in Britain to check against discrimination against disabled persons will go a long way in reducing the fight against discrimination at work place by half. This category of discrimination against disabled persons is well pronounced and exhibited since the disability is a physical factor that is glaring, it attract obnoxious perceptions.
5.0 Review of Current Practice and Policy
In United Kingdom, the Human Rights Commission, in December 2001, came up with a legislation to protect people with different religious beliefs against molestation and hatred from religious discrimination. In addition, in January 2002 the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination adopted a stiffer stand to emphasising the recognition of international law when dealing with issue of terrorism. Thus, “it demands that states and international organizations ensure that counter terrorist measures did not discriminate against people based on their race, colour, descent or national and ethic origin” (Human Right Watch, 2003:2, 3). In U.K., tighter measures put in place to check against racial base activities, at the aftermath of September 11 terrorist attack, and the 2005 London bomb blasts. These measures have affected the fight against racial discrimination, sometimes based on religious beliefs. Discrimination against the Arabians and other Muslim fundamentalists are on the increase after these bomb blast and terrorists attacks.
The Commission for Equality and Human Rights is set up in U.K. to fight against discrimination on racial, gender and religious basis, and to promote human rights and equality. The mission of the agency is to promote an influential role at the centre of British life in terms of human rights promotion, equality of opportunity and good relations between people of different background, origin and physical ability. Furthermore, the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) created in 2000 is a legislative created agency to protect disabled persons against discrimination. The commission stands to orientate and enable the U.K. society to encourage disabled persons to participate fully in activities in the society equally as other citizens (Disability Rights Commission, 2007).
The recognition of the fact that corporate fight against discrimination of some workers based on their gender, race, and physical ability will be detrimental to the effective team work needed to motivate workers to work effectively is one align with truth. When workers are treated, equally they tend to have sense of belonging and be motivated to contribute positively in the attainment of the goals and aspirations of the organization.
Thus, it is the dusty of government to back up commission set up to enable equal opportunity and fight against workers discrimination at workplace be effect in have th necessary power to operate effectively.
It is against the background for an effective war against racial, gender and disabled persons’ discrimination that government should put in place effective machinery to continue orientating people of the need to treat every person fairly and equally. Such machinery can be in the form of public enlightenment campaign, seminars and workshops for employers of labours, educational orientation in tertiary institutions.
Furthermore, as a guideline every organization in every sector of the economy should be allocated with a quota of disabled persons, different racial groups as the number of employees to constitute their workers. Proper follow up need to be put in place to ensuring such quotes are followed in every organization employment policy and workforce.
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Bagshaw, Mike (2004), “Is Diversity Divisive? A Positive Training Approach” Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 36, Issue 4
Disability Rights Commission (2007), “Creating an alternative Future” www.disabilityagenda.org. (28/12/07)
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Olsen, Wendy & Walby, Sylvia (2004), “Modelling Gender Pay Gaps” Working Paper Series No. 17 Equal Opportunities Commission http://www.eoc.org.uk/PDF/modelling%20gender%20pay%20gaps%20wp%2017.pdf. (28/12/07)
Taran, Patrick & Geronimi, Eduardo (2002), “Globalization, Labour and Migration: Protection is Paramount” ILO Office, Geneva http://www.cepal.org/celade/noticias/paginas/2/11302/PTaran.pdf. (28/12/07)
Taylor, Andrew (2007), “Tribunal See Surge in Equal Pay Claims” Financial Times London (UK) November 13. P. 6 (1st edition.)