What is ethical employment?
When asked ‘what is ethical employment’, the term ‘ethical employment’ might make you think initially of fair and unbiased hiring practices, moral codes, and commitment to diversity goals. And while none of these conceptions are wrong, the subject of ethical employment goes much deeper.
We are all well aware that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the world of employment. However, we may be more familiar with how this has affected ‘white-collar workers’- those who primarily work within office environments. White-collar workers are the main focus of employment headlines, which include work-from-home statistics, the great resignation, the future of the workplace, quiet quitting, and the work-from-anywhere model.
But what about ‘blue-collar workers’? Those who primarily work in skilled or unskilled occupations, retail, or those in junior office roles. Whether it’s waiting-staff at a restaurant, shop assistants, construction workers, gardeners, sales people, or maintenance workers, how is their employment market post-pandemic?
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned of the stark differences the impact COVID-19 has had on different groups of workers and countries. Lower-income countries are faring much worse, and the impact is leading to social migration, reduction in training programmes, and critically, the exploitation of blue-collar and low-income employees.
Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General has commented on the situation saying, ‘there can be no real recovery from this pandemic without a broad-based labour market recovery. And to be sustainable, this recovery must be based on the principles of decent work – including health and safety, equity, social protection, and social dialogue.’
Whether we call it ‘decent work’, ‘ethical employment’, or ‘good jobs for good’, the term simply means ensuring that your recruitment and HR policies, processes, and procedures are designed to be moral, ethical, and transparent and ensure workers’ human rights are protected.
What does unethical employment look like?
This can come in many forms. For example, unethical recruitment firms will pass on the recruitment costs to low-income workers and charge them thousands of dollars to help them find work abroad. Often the ‘fee’ is taken on as debt against future earnings, resulting in debt bondage, illegal deductions from wages, a never-ending debt cycle, confiscated travel documents, and the limiting of freedom of movement.
The issue isn’t limited to back alley businesses, shady recruitment companies, or unscrupulous middlemen. Of the nearly 28 million people currently in forced labor worldwide, over 17 million are exploited by the private sector, which includes well-loved brands, global industries, and market-leading organizations.
What can employers do about it?
For businesses, Environmental, Societal, and Governance (ESG) have never been more critical when it comes to company valuation, share price, brand reputation, and customer satisfaction. With this in mind, the international recruitment industry has become a cause for concern for companies worldwide.
Employers of all organizations have a responsibility to look out for the welfare of employees, and that responsibility begins with the hiring process. According to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), there are 7 things companies should be doing to become ethical employers.
- Policy development: create a policy and guidance document which directly addresses the company’s approach to recruiting workers. Including, not condoning practices such as worker-paid fees, passport confiscation, and ensuring contracts are written in the employee’s language.
- Direct recruitment: establish a process allowing your HR team to recruit workers directly. Ethical platforms such as EduPloyment give you the opportunity to meet potential employees and recruit directly.
- Support suppliers: create an agreement regarding the recruitment, employment, and HR practices that you expect your suppliers to adhere to, and what will happen if that agreement is not adhered to.
- Auditing: ensure your recruitment system, processes, and agencies are included in any 3rd party audits you conduct.
- Comply with local law and adhere to international best practices: your workforce is protected by local labor laws, including salary, overtime, holiday, health insurance, and gratuity. In addition to this, set an example and make sure that your policies and procedures align with international best practices.
- Investigate issues: take all allegations of mistreatment seriously and investigate them – be transparent with your ethics and processes. Ensure you review your company processes to prevent similar issues from occurring.
- Collaborate: participate in industry initiatives to improve ethical employment. Partner with ethical suppliers, local governments, taskforces, charities, or NGOs.
As a social impact enterprise, EduPloyment is a global online recruitment platform empowering skilled and unskilled workers with English and fair work, thereby uplifting them and their dependents into a lifetime of upskilling and employment.
We know that when an underprivileged person is educated, employed, and empowered they will be uplifted from their current economic state. Their family members and dependents, which number seven on average, are also uplifted and have a better chance of breaking the cycle. EduPloyment’s purpose is to deliver this empowerment to every Candidate and perpetuate this ripple effect to their communities.
EduPloyment helps Candidates gain English language and soft skills, and connects them directly with employers providing fair work, safe working environments, and fair pay.
For Employers, EduPloyment addresses recruitment challenges of time-consuming processes, Candidates not meeting job requirements, and expensive placement fees, while providing a direct and tangible social impact.
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