Ethics and Social Responsibility in the Human Resources Function

Ethics and Social Responsibility

Management Ethics refers to the applications of moral standards to management behaviour. Social Responsibility on the other hand, is the obligations a business has over and above its legal responsibilities to the wellbeing of employees and customers, shareholders and the community as well as the environment.

Human Resources Manager’s Role

Human Resource Managers will typically be involved in shaping a company’s ethical practices trough developing a code of conduct for the organisation. Human Resources managers must have a clear understanding of the relevant legislation and ensure that all staff understand their legal responsibilities. Human Resources Managers are also involved in solving day-to-day problems relating to ethics.

Ethical and Legal Issues in the Workplace

Examples of Legal and Ethical Issues affecting the workplace that is relevant to the Human Resources Function include:

  • Unethical work practices or conditions
  • Unlawful and Unfair dismissal
  • Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination
  • Workers compensation
  • Accidents, Injuries, Death & Disease
  • Stress
  • Work Overload

Specific Human Resources Dilemmas

  • Recruitmentdoes an organisation have to inform a job applicant if it’s facing financial difficulty and may have to dismiss some employees?
  • Representation – a human resource manager can sometimes be called on to act as an employee’s representative in a conflict involving the employee and another manager.
  • Electronic Privacy – do managers have the right to read and/or print emails between other employees, especially if the employees believe that the emails are private?
  • Performance evaluation – human resource managers must observe and judge an employee’s performance. Judgments can be influenced by personal feelings, when evaluating an employee they don’t get along with, should these feelings influence them?
  • Employee promotion or dismissal – prior to official announcements being made, human resource managers is normally expected to keep confidential any information regarding the promotion or dismissal of an employee, should this ever be disclosed?