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Chapter 9 Risk Management, Worker Protection, and Employee Relations Chapter Overview The focus of HR management on risk management and worker protection has grown significantly in the past several years. Previously, most HR efforts focused on work environments that are safe, healthy, and secure. Risk Management includes workplace safety and health, employee health/wellness promotion, workplace and worker security, and disaster preparation and recovery planning. This chapter starts with a discussion about the current state of health, safety, and security including trends and global health/safety/security issues such as international emergency health services, international security and terrorism, and kidnapping. Then the legal requirements set forth in laws that relate to safety and health are detailed. An overview is given of state workers’ compensation laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and child labor laws. Extensive coverage is given to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 with attention given to enforcement standards, recordkeeping requirements, inspections, and a critique of OSHA. Effective HR management undertakes programs of safety management to help avoid violations as well as designing a safer working environment. Safety topics covered are organizational commitment to safety; safety policies, discipline, and recordkeeping; safety training and communication; effective safety committees; safety inspection, investigation, and evaluation; approaches for effective safety management; and measuring safety efforts. Next, the chapter discusses several employee health issues, including substance abuse, emotional/mental health concerns, health and older employees, and health promotion programs, wellness programs, and employee assistance programs (EAPs). The chapter then covers security concerns at work. Workplace violence has become an increasing concern and is one reason that security has become much more important for organizations than in the past. Dealing with workplace violence is covered. Other topics related to security management include security audits, controlling access, employee screening and selection, and security personnel. Next, there is a section on disaster preparation and recovery planning. The chapter then presents three related and important issues in the management of human resources: Employee rights HR policies Employee discipline The chapter presents a review of employee rights and responsibilities. Employees’ statutory and contractual rights are presented along with a discussion on implied contracts. The chapter next reviews rights affecting the employment relationship with attention given to employment-at-will, just cause, and due process. The common-law doctrine of employment-at-will (EAW) states that employers have the right to hire, fire, demote, or promote whomever they choose, unless there is a law or contract to the contrary. It is becoming increasingly important for organizations to base discipline and discharge on just cause and to guarantee due process to their employees. The use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as arbitration, peer review panels, and ombuds has grown because of the dissatisfaction with the expenses and delays that are common in the court system when lawsuits are filed. Each of these methods is described. Then the chapter discusses several individual employee rights issues such as privacy rights related to employee records, employees’ free speech rights, technology and employee rights, and employee rights and personal behavior issues. Next, balancing employer security and employee rights are examined. The issues of workplace monitoring, employer investigations, and substance abuse and drug testing are discussed. HR policies, procedures, and rules are described. Policies are general guidelines that regulate organizational actions while rules are more specific, regulating and restricting the behavior of individuals. Procedures are customary methods of handling activities. How these policies, procedures and rules are communicated to employees is crucial. The chapter ends with a discussion on employee discipline. Discipline is explained as being a form of training to enforce organizational rules. Positive discipline and progressive discipline approaches are described. The final disciplinary step, discharge, is also examined. Chapter Outline I. Risk Management, Health, Safety, and Security Organizations can take steps to anticipate a multitude of problems occurring in the normal functioning of business. Risk management involves this responsibility to protect both organizational and individual interests. In the United States and other developed nations, HR departments are included in the prevention, minimization, and elimination of workplace risks. A major part of HR-based risk management in most organizations involves health, safety, and security. The terms health, safety, and security are closely related and can often be considered together when policies are created because they affect each other in practice. The broader and somewhat more nebulous term is health, which refers to a general state of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. A healthy person is free from illness, injury, or mental and emotional problems that impair normal human activity. Health management practices in firms strive to maintain that overall well-being. Typically, safety refers to a condition in which the physical well-being of people is protected. The main purpose of effective safety programs in organizations is to prevent work-related injuries and accidents. The purpose of security is to protect employees and organizational facilities from those who may harm them. With the growth of workplace violence and issues such as terrorism and sabotage, security has become a concern for employers and employees. II. Current State of Health, Safety, and Security Accidents can be costly for firms, and illnesses can generate financial and operational setbacks. A. Snapshot of Health, Safety, and Security Specific accident and illness rates vary depending on the industry, type of job, and other factors. Recently, rates of illnesses and injuries in the private industry have gone down, but in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry and accommodation and food services industries, rates have increased. B. Domestic Trends in Health, Safety, and Security There are several trends in occupational health, safety, and security related to specific demographic and occupational issues that are occurring in the United States. For instance, deaths from accidents among Hispanic workers are on the rise. Many work in low-wage jobs with higher risk factors. In addition, poor English communication skills, lack of training, and other factors contribute to this situation, which runs counter to the trends for other groups. Self-employed workers also have higher accident rates than do those who work for others. C. Global Trends in Health, Safety, and Security Safety and health laws and regulations vary from country to country, ranging from virtually nonexistent to more stringent than those in the United States. The importance placed on health, safety, and security relates somewhat to the level of regulation and other factors in each country. However, factors that lead to greater safety concerns for particular individuals and groups may also exist in countries. III. Legal Requirements for Safety and Health Employers must comply with a variety of federal and state laws when developing and maintaining healthy, safe, and secure working environments. A. Workers’ Compensation Under workers’ compensation laws, employers contribute to an insurance fund that compensates employees for injuries received while on the job. Premiums paid are experience-rated to reflect the accident rates of the employers, with employers that have higher incident rates being assessed higher premiums. Depending on the amount of lost time and the wage level in question, these laws often require payments be made to an employee for the time away from work because of an injury, payments to cover medical bills, and for retraining if a new job is required as a result of the incident. Workers’ compensation coverage has been expanded in many states to include emotional impairment that may have resulted from physical injury, as well as job-related strain, stress, anxiety, and pressure. Some cases of suicide have also been ruled to be job-related in some states, with payments due under workers’ compensation. Another aspect of workers’ compensation coverage relates to the use of telecommuting by employees. In most situations, while working at home for employers, individuals are covered under workers’ compensation laws. Controlling Workers’ Compensation Costs Workers’ compensation costs have become a major issue, and can represent from 2% to 10% of payroll for employers. Workers’ compensation fraud is an expensive problem. Efforts to prevent and reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fraud can reduce workers’ compensation premiums and claims costs. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) affects workers’ compensation as well. Because the FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave for their serious health conditions, injured employees may ask to use that leave time in addition to the leave time allowed under workers’ compensation, even if it is unpaid. B. Americans with Disabilities Act and Safety Issues Employers sometimes try to return injured workers to light-duty work to reduce workers’ compensation costs. However, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), when making accommodations for injured employees through light-duty work, employers may undercut what are really essential job functions. Health and safety recordkeeping practices have been affected by an ADA provision that requires all medical-related information to be maintained separately from all other confidential files. C. Child Labor Laws Risk management includes dealing with safety concerns have resulted in restrictions affecting younger workers, especially those under the age of 18. Child labor laws, found in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), set the minimum age for most employment at 16 years. In addition to complying with workers’ compensation, ADA, and child labor laws, most employers must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This act has had a tremendous impact on the workplace. The act is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. IV. Occupational Safety and Health Act The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed to ensure that the health and safety of employees would be protected. Every employer that is engaged in commerce and has one or more employees is covered by the act. Farmers having fewer than 10 employees are exempt. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, to administer its provisions. By making employers and employees more aware of safety and health considerations, OSHA has significantly affected organizations. A. OSHA Enforcement Standards To implement OSHA regulations, specific standards were established to regulate equipment and working environments. Two provisions have been recognized as key to employers’ responsibility to comply with OSHA: General duty—the act requires that the employer has a general duty to provide safe and healthy working conditions, even in areas where OSHA standards have not been set. Notification and posters—employers are required to inform their employees of safety and health standards established by OSHA. B. OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements Employers are generally required to maintain a detailed annual record of the various types of injuries, accidents, and fatalities for inspection by OSHA representatives and for submission to the agency. Four types of injuries or illnesses are defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Act. They are as follows: Injury- or illness-related deaths—fatalities at workplaces or caused by work-related actions must be reported within 8 hours Lost-time or disability injuries—job-related injuries or disabling occurrences that cause an employee to miss regularly scheduled work on the day following the accident Medical care injuries—injuries that require treatment by a physician but do not cause an employee to miss a regularly scheduled work turn Minor injuries—injuries that require first aid treatment and do not cause an employee to miss the next regularly scheduled work turn C. OSHA Inspections The Occupational Safety and Health Act provides for on-the-spot inspections by OSHA representatives, called compliance officers or inspectors. In Marshall v. Barlow’s, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court held that safety inspectors must produce a search warrant if an employer refuses to allow an inspector into the plant voluntarily. The Court also ruled that an inspector does not have to show probable cause to obtain a search warrant. A warrant can be obtained easily if a search is part of a general enforcement plan. Dealing with an Inspection When an OSHA compliance officer arrives, managers should ask to see the inspector’s credentials. Next, the company HR representative or safety professional should insist on an opening conference with the compliance officer. The compliance officer may request that a union representative, an employee, and a company representative be present while the inspection is conducted. Citations and Violations Although OSHA inspectors can issue citations for violations of the act, whether or not a citation is issued depends on the severity and extent of the problems, and on the employer’s knowledge of them. In addition, depending on the nature and number of violations, monetary penalties can be assessed against employers. D. Critique of OSHA OSHA has been criticized on several fronts. Because the agency has so many worksites to inspect, employers have only a relatively small chance of being inspected. Some suggest that employers pay little attention to OSHA enforcement efforts for this reason. Employers, especially smaller ones, continue to complain about the complexity of complying with OSHA standards and the costs associated with penalties and with making changes required to remedy problem areas. V. Safety Management Well-designed and effectively managed safety programs can result in reduced accidents and associated costs. Both the HR unit and operating managers must be involved in coordinating health, safety, and security. A. Organizational Commitment to Safety At the heart of safety management is a commitment to a comprehensive safety effort that should be coordinated at the top level of management and include all organizational members. It should also be reflected in managerial actions. B. Safety Policies, Discipline, and Recordkeeping Designing safety policies and rules and disciplining violators are important components of safety efforts. Frequently reinforcing the need for safe behavior and frequently supplying feedback on positive safety practices are also effective ways of improving worker safety. For policies about safety to be effective, good recordkeeping about accidents, causes, and other details is necessary. Without records, an employer cannot track its safety performance or compare benchmarks against other employers and may not realize the extent of its safety problems. C. Safety Training and Communication Safety training can be conducted in various ways to effectively reduce accidents. Regular sessions with supervisors, managers, and employees are often coordinated by HR staff members. Communication of safety procedures, reasons why accidents occurred, and what to do in an emergency is critical. Without effective communication about safety, training is insufficient. To reinforce safety training, continuous communication to develop safety consciousness is necessary. D. Effective Safety Committees Employees frequently participate in safety planning through safety committees, often composed of workers from a variety of levels and departments. A safety committee generally meets at regularly scheduled times, has specific responsibilities for conducting safety reviews, identifies risks, and makes recommendations for changes necessary to avoid future accidents. E. Inspection, Investigation, and Evaluation It is not necessary to wait for an OSHA inspector to check the work area for safety hazards. Regular inspections may be done by a safety committee or by a company safety coordinator. Problem areas should be addressed immediately to prevent accidents and keep work productivity at the highest possible levels. The phases of accident investigation are shown in Figure 9-2. F. Approaches for Effective Safety Management Three approaches are typically used by employers to manage safety. Figure 9-3 shows some of the organizational, engineering, and individual approaches and their components. Organizational Approach Companies can effectively manage safety by designing safer jobs and by creating policies that encourage safety. Safety committees can be used to increase awareness of important safety issues, and guidelines for accident investigations can help managers identify the causes of safety violations. Engineering Approach Employers can prevent some accidents by designing machines, equipment, and work areas so that workers who perform potentially dangerous jobs cannot injure themselves and others. Providing safety equipment and guards on machinery, installing emergency switches, installing safety rails, keeping aisles clear, and installing adequate ventilation, lighting, heating, and air conditioning can all help to make work environments safer. Individual Approach This approach addresses the proper match of individuals to jobs and emphasizes employee training in safety methods, fatigue reduction, and health awareness. Efforts focus on reducing risky behavior, increasing safe actions, and considering work schedule problems. G. Measuring Safety Efforts Organizations should monitor and evaluate their safety efforts. Common metrics are workers’ compensation costs per injury/illness; percentage of injuries/illnesses by department, work shifts, and job categories; and incident-rate comparisons with industry and benchmark targets. VI. Employee Health Employee health problems are varied—and somewhat inevitable. They can range from minor illnesses such as colds to serious illnesses related to the jobs performed. Employers face a variety of workplace health issues. A. Substance Abuse Use of illicit substances or misuse of controlled substances, alcohol, or other drugs is called substance abuse. Employers’ concerns about substance abuse stem from the ways it alters work behaviors, causing increased tardiness and absenteeism, a slower work pace, a higher rate of mistakes and accidents, and less time spent at work. It can also cause an increase in withdrawal (physical and psychological), antagonistic behaviors, and workplace violence. Consequently, alcohol testing and drug testing are often used by employers. Types of Drug Tests There are several different types of tests to detect drug use. These tests can identify individuals under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs to the extent that their abilities to perform their jobs are impaired. Handling Substance Abuse Cases The ADA affects how management can handle substance abuse cases. Currently, users of illegal drugs are specifically excluded from the definition of disabled under the act. However, those addicted to legal substances (e.g., alcohol and prescription drugs) are considered disabled under the ADA. To encourage employees to seek help for their substance abuse problems, a firm-choice option is usually recommended and has been endorsed legally. A supervisor or a manager confronts the employee privately about unsatisfactory work-related behaviors and a choice between help and discipline is offered. B. Emotional/Mental Health A variety of emotional/mental health issues arise at work that must be addressed by employers. Specific events, such as death of a spouse, divorce, or medical problems, can affect individuals who otherwise have been coping successfully with life pressures. Beyond trying to communicate with the employees and relieving some workload pressures, it is generally recommended that supervisors and managers contact the HR staff, who can refer affected employees to outside resources through employee assistance programs. C. Health and Older Employees The graying of the workforce has health and safety implications. All signs point to an abundance of older workers, and many work beyond age 65. D. Health Promotion Health promotion is a supportive approach of facilitating and encouraging healthy actions and lifestyles among employees. Wellness programs are also designed to maintain or improve employee health before problems arise, encouraging self-directed lifestyle changes. Employee Assistance Programs Organizations can respond to specific and difficult health issues with an employee-assistance program (EAP), which provides counseling and other help to employees having emotional, physical, or other personal problems. In such a program, an employer typically contracts with a counseling agency for the service. VII. Security Concerns at Work Traditionally, when employers have addressed worker risk management, they have been concerned about reducing workplace accidents, improving safety practices, and reducing health hazards at work. However, providing security for employees has recently become important. A. Workplace Violence Workplace violence involves violent acts directed at someone at work or on duty. The increase in workplace violence has led many employers to develop policies and practices for trying to prevent and respond to it. Policies can identify how workplace violence is to be dealt with in conjunction with disciplinary actions and referrals to EAPs. B. Security Management A comprehensive approach to security management is needed to address a wide range of issues, including workplace violence. HR managers may have responsibility for security programs or may work closely with security managers or consultants. Security Audit A security audit is a comprehensive review of organizational security. Sometimes called a vulnerability analysis, such an audit uses managers inside the organization (e.g., the HR manager and the facilities manager) and outsiders (e.g., security consultants, police officers, etc.) to assess security issues and risks. Typically, a security audit begins with a survey of the area around the facility. Factors such as lighting in parking lots, traffic flow, location of emergency response services, crime in the surrounding neighborhood, and the layout of the buildings and grounds are evaluated. Controlled Access A key part of security involves controlling access to the physical and electronic facilities of the organization. Many workplace homicides occur during robberies. Therefore, employees who are most vulnerable, such as taxi drivers and convenience store clerks, can be provided bulletproof partitions and restricted-access areas. Many organizations limit access to facilities and work areas by using electronic access or keycard systems. Controlling computer access is an important part of securing IT resources. Coordination with information-technology resources to change passwords, access codes, and otherwise protect company information is important. C. Employee Screening/Selection and Security Personnel A key facet of providing security is screening job applicants. HR management is somewhat limited by legal constraints on what can be done, particularly regarding the use of psychological tests and checking of references. However, firms that do not screen employees adequately may be subject to liability if an employee commits crimes later. Providing adequately trained security personnel in sufficient numbers is another important part of security management. Many employers contract with firms specializing in security. If security is handled in-house, security personnel must be selected and trained to handle a variety of workplace security problems, ranging from dealing with violent behavior by an employee to taking charge in natural disasters. VIII. Disaster Preparation and Recovery Planning During the past several years, many significant disasters have occurred. Some have been natural disasters, such as hurricanes, major snowstorms, etc. There has also been concern about terrorism, and some firms have been damaged by fires and explosions. A. Disaster Planning For effective disaster planning to occur, the three components shown in Figure 9-5 must be addressed. Organizational assessment includes establishing a disaster-planning team, often composed of representatives from HR, security, information technology, operations, and other areas. The purpose of this team is to conduct an organization-wide assessment of how various disasters might affect the organization and its employees. Issues such as having backup databases along with employee contact information, are key considerations of human impact planning (the impact of events on people). Who will take responsibility for various duties and how these efforts will be coordinated must also be identified. Planning efforts are ineffective if managers and employees are not trained on what to do when disasters occur. Such training covers a wide range of topics, including: First aid/CPR Hazardous materials containment Disaster escape means Employer contact methods Organizational restoration efforts B. Disaster Planning for Disease One important issue in disaster management during the past few years has been the spread of various kinds of viruses and flu throughout the world. The global nature of business travel has increased the likelihood of the spread of a deadly virus. IX. Employer and Employee Rights and Responsibilities Rights are powers, privileges, or interests derived from law, nature, or tradition. Of course, defining a right presents considerable potential for disagreement. Statutory rights are the result of specific laws or statutes passed by federal, state, or local governments. Various laws have granted employees certain rights at work, such as equal employment opportunity, collective bargaining, and workplace safety. Rights are offset by responsibilities, which are obligations to perform certain tasks and duties. Employment is a reciprocal relationship in that both the employer and the employee have rights and obligations. A. Contractual Rights When individuals become employees, they encounter both employment rights and responsibilities. Those items can be spelled out formally in written employment contracts, or more commonly, in employer handbooks and policies disseminated to employees. Contracts formalize the employment relationship. Employment Contracts An employment contract is a formal agreement that outlines the details of employment. Depending on the organization and individuals involved, employment agreements often contain many provisions that detail the nature of the exchanges that are expected to occur between companies and employees. Noncompete Agreements Employment contracts may include noncompete agreements, which prohibit individuals who leave an organization from working with an employer in the same line of business for a specified period of time. A noncompete agreement may be presented as a separate contract or as a clause in an employment contract. B. Implied Contracts The idea that a contract (even an implied or unwritten one) exists between individuals and their employers affects the employment relationship. The rights and responsibilities of the employee may exist only as unwritten employer expectations about what is acceptable behavior or performance on the part of the employee. When the employer fails to follow up on the implied promises, the employee may pursue remedies in court. X. Rights Affecting the Employment Relationship As employees have increasingly regarded themselves as free agents in the workplace and as the power of unions has changed in the United States, the struggle between individual employee and employer “rights” has become heightened. Employers often do not fare well in court in employee rights cases. Several concepts from law and psychology influence what are considered rights in the employment relationship: employment-at-will, wrongful or constructive discharge, just cause, due process, and distributive and procedural justice. A. Employment-at-Will (EAW) Employment-at-will (EAW) is a common-law doctrine stating that employers have the right to hire, fire, demote, or promote whomever they choose, unless there is a law or a contract to the contrary. Conversely, employees can quit whenever they want and go to another job. Wrongful Discharge Employers that run afoul of EAW restrictions may be guilty of wrongful discharge, which is the termination of an individual’s employment for reasons that are illegal or improper. Employers can take several precautions to reduce wrongful-discharge liabilities. Constructive Discharge Closely related to wrongful discharge is constructive discharge, which is deliberately making conditions intolerable to get an employee to quit. Under normal circumstances, an employee who resigns rather than being dismissed cannot later collect damages for violation of legal rights. An exception to this rule occurs when the courts find that the working conditions were made so intolerable as to force a reasonable employee to resign. B. Just Cause Just cause is reasonable justification for taking employment-related action. The need for a “good reason” for disciplinary actions such as dismissal usually can be found in union contracts, but not in at-will situations. C. Due Process Due process, like just cause, is about fairness. Due process is the requirement that the employer use a fair process to determine if there has been employee wrongdoing and that the employee has an opportunity to explain and defend his or her actions. How HR managers address these factors determines whether the courts perceive employers’ actions as fair. D. Work-Related Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Disputes between management and employees over different work issues are normal and inevitable, but how the parties resolve their disputes are important. Open-door policies, formal grievance procedures, and lawsuits provide several resolution methods. However, companies are looking to alternative means of settlement. Dissatisfaction with expenses, delays in the court system when lawsuits are filed, and damages to employer-employee relationships have prompted growth in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as arbitration, peer review panels, ombuds, and mediation. Arbitration Arbitration is a process that uses a neutral third party to make a binding decision, thereby eliminating the necessity of using the court system. Some firms use compulsory arbitration, which requires employees to sign a pre-employment agreement stating that all disputes will be submitted to arbitration; employees waive their rights to pursue legal action until the completion of the arbitration process. Peer-Review Panels Some employers allow their employees to appeal disciplinary actions to an internal committee of employees. This panel reviews the actions and makes recommendations or decisions. Peer-review panels use fellow employees and perhaps a few managers to resolve employment disputes. Ombuds Some organizations ensure process fairness through ombuds—employees outside the normal chain of command who act as independent problem solvers for both management and employees. Ombuds address employees’ complaints and operate with a high degree of confidentiality. Mediation Ombuds, as well as other individuals and groups who oversee dispute cases, will sometimes use mediation as a tool for developing appropriate and fair outcomes for all parties involved. Facilitative and directive forms of mediation rely more on an approach that ultimately helps identify resolutions to the problems collectively explored. XI. Managing Individual Employee and Employer Rights Issues Employees who join organizations in the United States bring with them certain rights, including freedom of speech, due process, and protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Although the U.S. Constitution grants these and other rights to citizens, over the years, laws and court decisions have identified limits on them in the workplace. Employers have legitimate rights and needs to ensure that employees are doing their jobs and working in a secure environment, while employees expect their rights, both at work and away from work, to be protected. The right to privacy is defined in legal terms as an individual’s freedom from unauthorized and unreasonable intrusion into personal affairs. A. Privacy Rights and Employee Records As a result of concerns about protecting individual privacy rights in the United States, the Privacy Act of 1974 was passed. It includes provisions affecting HR recordkeeping systems. Employee Medical Records Recordkeeping and retention practices have been affected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provisions of the ADA. As interpreted by attorneys and HR practitioners, this provision requires that all medical-related information be maintained separately from all other confidential files. The HIPAA also contains regulations designed to protect the privacy of employee medical records. Both regular and confidential electronic files must be considered. Security of Employee Records It is important to establish access restrictions and security procedures for employee records. These restrictions and procedures are designed to protect the privacy of employees and to protect employers from potential liability for improper disclosure of personal information. Individuals’ social security numbers, personal addresses, and other contact information should be protected. Electronic Records Another concern is how electronic records are maintained and secured, given the changes in software, e-mail, and other technology means. Employers should establish electronic-records policies to ensure legal compliance and to avoid violating individuals’ personal rights. B. Employees’ Free Speech Rights The right of individuals to freedom of speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution. However, that freedom is not an unrestricted one in the workplace, so employees and companies need to be aware of appropriate boundaries. Three situations in which employees’ freedom of speech might be restricted include expressing controversial views, whistle-blowing, and using the Internet and other communication-based technology. Employee Advocacy of Controversial Views Questions of free speech arise over the right of employees to advocate controversial viewpoints at work. Employers must follow due process procedures and demonstrate that disciplinary actions taken against employees can be justified by job-related reasons. Whistle-Blowing and Employee Protection Individuals who report real or perceived wrongs committed by their employers are called whistle-blowers. There are laws that protect whistle-blowers in the corporate setting such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Technology and Employer-Employee Issues The extensive use of technology use by employers and employees is constantly creating new issues to be addressed. C. Employee Rights and Personal Behavior Issues Another area employers should watch is employee personal behavior. Employers may decide to review unusual behavior by employees both on and off the job. XII. Balancing Employer Security and Employee Rights Balancing employer and employee rights is difficult. On the one side, employers have a legitimate need to ensure that employees are performing their jobs properly in a secure environment. On the other side, employees expect the rights that they have both at work and away from work to be protected. A. Workplace Monitoring In the United States, the right of protection from unreasonable search and seizure only protects an individual against activities of the government. Thus, employees of private-sector employers can be monitored, observed, and searched at work by representatives of the employer if they believe that work rules have been violated. Numerous employers have installed video surveillance systems in workplaces. Employers use these systems to ensure proper security within the work environment. Employee activity may be monitored to measure performance, ensure performance quality/customer service, identify theft, or enforce company rules or laws. The common concerns in the workplace usually focus on how monitoring should be conducted, how the information should be used, and how feedback should be communicated to employees. B. Employer Investigations Another area of concern regarding employee rights involves workplace investigations. The U.S. Constitution protects public-sector employees in the areas of due process, search and seizure, and privacy at work, but private-sector employees are not protected. Whether it occurs on or off the job, unethical or illegal behavior by an employer can be a serious problem for organizations. C. Substance Abuse and Drug Testing Employee substance abuse and drug testing have received a great deal of attention. Drug Testing and Employee Rights Unless federal, state, or local law prohibits testing, employers have a right to require applicants or employees to submit to a drug test. Pre-employment drug testing is widely used. When employers conduct drug testing of current employees, they generally use one of three policies: Random testing of everyone at periodic intervals Testing only in cases of probable cause Testing after accidents From a policy standpoint, it is most appropriate to test for drugs when the following conditions exist: Job-related consequences of the abuse are severe enough that they outweigh privacy concerns. Accurate test procedures are available. Written consent of the employee is obtained. Results are treated confidentially, as are any medical records. Employer offers a complete drug rehabilitation program, including an employee assistance program. XIII. Human Resource Policies, Procedures, and Rules HR policies, procedures, and rules greatly affect employee rights and discipline. Where there is a choice among actions, policies act as general guidelines that help focus those organizational actions. Policies are general in nature, whereas procedures and rules are specific to the situation. Procedures provide customary methods of handling activities and are more specific than policies. Rules are specific guidelines that regulate and restrict the behavior of individuals. A. Employee Handbooks An employee handbook can be an essential tool for communicating information about workplace culture, benefits, attendance, pay practices, safety issues, and discipline. Handbooks may contain many areas, but some policies commonly covered in them include the following: At-will prerogatives Harassment policies Electronic communication Pay and benefits Discipline Hours worked B. Communicating Human Resource Information HR communication focuses on the receipt and dissemination of HR data and information throughout the organization. Downward communication flows from top management to the rest of the organization, informing employees about what is and will be happening in the organization and what the expectations and goals of top management are. Upward communication enables managers to learn about the ideas, concerns, and information needs of employees. Companies use surveys and employee-suggestion programs to encourage the upward communication of good ideas. XIV. Employee Discipline Discipline is a form of training that enforces organizational rules. Those most often affected by the discipline systems may be problem employees. Common disciplinary issues caused by problem employees include absenteeism, tardiness, productivity deficiencies, alcoholism, and insubordination. A. Approaches to Discipline The disciplinary system can be viewed as an application of behavior modification to a problem or unproductive employee. The best discipline is clearly self-discipline and most people can be counted on to do their jobs effectively when they understand work requirements. But for others, external discipline helps their self-discipline. Positive-Discipline Approach The positive-discipline approach builds on the philosophy that violations are actions that usually can be corrected constructively without penalty. In this approach, managers focus on using fact finding and guidance to encourage desirable behaviors, rather than using penalties to discourage undesirable behaviors. Progressive-Discipline Approach Progressive-discipline incorporates steps that become progressively more stringent and are designed to change the employee’s inappropriate behavior. Figure 9-7 shows a typical progressive-discipline process; most progressive discipline procedures use verbal and written reprimands and suspension before resorting to dismissal. B. Discharge: The Final Disciplinary Step The final stage in the disciplinary process may be called discharge, firing, dismissal, or termination, among other terms. Regardless of the word used, discharge is when an employee is removed from a job at an employer. Instructor Manual for Human Resource Management: Essential Perspectives Robert L. Mathis, John Jackson, Sean Valentine 9781305115248

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