Ethical Issues in HR



Of all the organisational issues or problems, ethical issues are the most difficult ones to handle or deal with. Issues arise in employment, remuneration and benefits, industrial relations and health and safety.

Diagrammatic representation of HR Ethical Issues

Diagrammatic representation of HR Ethical Issues

  • Cash and Compensation Plans

    There are ethical issues pertaining to the salaries, executive perquisites and the annual incentive plans etc. The HR manager is often under pressure to raise the band of base salaries. There is increased pressure upon the HR function to pay out more incentives to the top management and the justification for the same is put as the need to retain the latter. Further ethical issues crop in HR when long term compensation and incentive plans are designed in consultation with the CEO or an external consultant. While deciding upon the payout there is pressure on favouring the interests of the top management in comparison to that of other employees and stakeholders.

  • Race, gender and Disability

    In many organisations till recently the employees were differentiated on the basis of their race, gender, origin and their disability. Not anymore ever since the evolution of laws and a regulatory framework that has standardised employee behaviours towards each other. In good organisations the only differentiating factor is performance! In addition the power of filing litigation has made put organisations on the back foot. Managers are trained for aligning behaviour and avoiding discriminatory practices.

  • Employment Issues

    Human resource practitioners face bigger dilemmas in employee hiring. One dilemma stems from the pressure of hiring someone who has been recommended by a friend, someone from your family or a top executive.

    Yet another dilemma arises when you have already hired someone and he/she is later found to have presented fake documents. Two cases may arise and both are critical. In the first case the person has been trained and the position is critical. In the second case the person has been highly appreciated for his work during his short stint or he/she has a unique blend of skills with the right kind of attitude. Both the situations are sufficiently dilemmatic to leave even a seasoned HR campaigner in a fix.

  • Privacy Issues

    Any person working with any organisation is an individual and has a personal side to his existence which he demands should be respected and not intruded. The employee wants the organisation to protect his/her personal life. This personal life may encompass things like his religious, political and social beliefs etc. However certain situations may arise that mandate snooping behaviours on the part of the employer. For example, mail scanning is one of the activities used to track the activities of an employee who is believed to be engaged in activities that are not in the larger benefit of the organisation.

    Similarly there are ethical issues in HR that pertain to health and safety, restructuring and layoffs and employee responsibilities. There is still a debate going on whether such activities are ethically permitted or not. Layoffs, for example, are no more considered as unethical as they were thought of in the past.



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