- June 29, 2020
Human Resource Law
Theemployment and labor field is undergoing rapid changes in response tothe demographic as well as social changes. Employers are increasinglycoming under pressure to attract as well as maintain qualifiedemployees. Therefore, there is increased competition in the labormarket as companies look for the best talent available. In thisregard, the changes have necessitated alterations in employment laws,not only to protect employees but also to safeguard the interests ofemployers (Bowen& Finegan, 2015).The majority of these laws touch on the human resource departmentbecause it is in charge of recruiting and maintaining employees byaddressing issues such as remuneration, discipline, and equity.
Marketerscontinue to focus on the reputation of organizations in establishingtheir competitiveness. The product as well as company image stands asone of the most efficient marketing tools, which in many casesincludes the perceptions on how organizations treat employees.Therefore, the majority of the adjustments in human resource law aredriven by the need to maintain the company image not only in thepublic’s eye but also in the eye of the regulatory bodies(Ehrenberg& Smith, 2016).Consequently, new human resource laws are focusing on the importanceof the employee as an asset to the company and the subsequentprotection of their rights.
Advancementsin technology such as the social media revolution, the use of emails,blogs, and other digital platforms have made it necessary toformulate HR laws in response to the technological revolution (Bowen& Finegan, 2015).In the contemporary work environment, employees have been given morepower to not only express themselves but also speak about the companythey work for. Therefore, emerging HR laws are focusing on theregulation of current modes of communication to ensure that employeesmaintain respectable boundaries between company secrets and otherpersonal communication. Companies now face difficult challenges onhow to jiggle between regulating employee communication withoutinterfering with the right to express their opinions without anyimpediment.
Allthese changing dynamics in the business environment are presentingemployees with significant challenges regarding balancing betweencompeting employee and management demands. Therefore, the only way toensure a workable compromise for both sides is the continuousalteration and formulation of HR laws, which are responsive to thechanging dynamics. The evolving scenarios in the employmentenvironment have sometimes made their way in the judicial systems ofvarious countries, leading to judicial interpretations overcontentious issues in HR law (Ehrenberg& Smith, 2016).
HRLaws Touching on Employee Appearance
Employeechallenges regarding their appearance in the workplace are on therise. Image policies are diverse across different organizations,depending on their clientele. On one hand, there have been many caseswhere individuals challenge workplace image policies of variousorganizations, for example, guidelines that require women to use ornot to use make up (Walsh,2015).On the other hand, employees try to promote certain imagecharacteristics in the workplace. One of the biggest argument is thatsome of the image regulations are an expression of sexual stereotypeas well as discrimination against women (Ehrenberg& Smith, 2016).Therefore, upcoming HR laws seek to establish a balance betweenprotecting individual rights and safeguarding the company of theimage portrayed by its workers. However, the diversity oforganizations as well as cultural variations makes it difficult tohave conclusive regulations regarding the issue of personal image.
Globalizationhas led to intercultural interactions leading to the creation ofdiverse workforces. In this regard, there are variations in personalimages from one culture to another. It hence makes it difficult tomaintain organizational standards on issues that touch on culturaldiversity. Issues such as refraining from wearing earrings andrequiring men to wear ties have caused much controversy in recentyears (Bowen& Finegan, 2015).On the other hand, organizations recognize that employee grooming andrespectable standards of appearance can lead to the promotion of amarketable look for the company. As the fashion industry continue toundergo revolutions, these laws will continue to evolve in equaltempo.
HRLaws Regarding Diversity
Diversityhas become an important issue in human resource today. Globalizationhas resulted in the inclusion of people from different culturalbackgrounds in the workplace. Therefore, there is a need forindividuals to be sensitive reading the needs and rights of fellowworkers to ensure the creation of a productive environment in theworkplace. The inclusion of diversity training in theemployee-training curriculum is meant to enable them to comply withthe provisions of cultural diversity requirements (Ehrenberg& Smith, 2016).Organizations are increasingly finding it necessary to protectemployees from discrimination and stereotypical behavior. In thisregard, organizations can boost employee’s productivity becausethey are free to express their ideas without the fear ofvictimization (Walsh,2015).
Anotherissue on employee diversity touches on the role of women in theworkplace women are taking bigger roles in the labor market, andthere is a need to put in place laws that safeguard them fromharassment and discrimination. The harassment may come both in theform of physical, emotional as well as in sexual harassment. Asorganization put in place measures to address gender equity, HR lawsare likely to seek ways of ensuring the participation of women insenior positions in the workplace as well as ensuring their safety(Walsh,2015).There is a need to continue protecting women, especially in thedeveloping countries. As more women get educated, the labor forcewill soon have an equal or even higher number of women working atsenior, middle level and junior positions. It is necessary to havelaws that help maintain their dignity even in male-dominated fields.
Lawson Transgender, Bisexual and Lesbian Employees
The21stcentury presents challenges regarding the inclusion of individualswith diverse sexual orientations in the workplace. The gay rightsmovements have led to landmark policy shifts in human resource laws.Federal, State and Local laws especially in the US are forcingemployees to ensure that employees are not discriminated on thegrounds of sexual orientation. Indeed, this has been a challenge formany employees, especially considering that there are manyconservative organizations across the globe (Bowen& Finegan, 2015).Discriminatory employment practices are creating problems fororganizations and employers want to avoid costs such as lawsuitsfiled disgruntled employees. Therefore, human resource laws willincline towards the provision of equal opportunities for individualswithout discriminating them based on sexual orientation. As theemployment laws continue to change because of rising advocacy andactivism for the protection of human rights, HR laws and policieswill continue to be more unpredictable. However, there is a need tohave responsive laws towards the advancement of equity fortransgenders, gays, and lesbians (Ehrenberg& Smith, 2016).
Lawson Age Discrimination
Youthfulpopulations characterize many countries, especially in the westernworld. Therefore, it is inevitable that the work environment will bedominated by the youth. As much as this presents many opportunitiesfor the youth, they are likely to face discrimination in terms of lowremuneration as well as discrimination from senior positions inorganizations. Therefore, human resource laws will shift towardsprotecting the youth from exploitative and discriminative employees(Bowen& Finegan, 2015).
Theyouth lack experience in employment matters. They might not be awareof any violations of their rights even when employers commit seriousviolations. Moreover, many young people are desperate to gainmeaningful employment, and it is unlikely that they will expressresentments against any mistreatments (Walsh,2015).Consequently, it is paramount that organizations put in place humanresource laws that allow for the protection of the rights andinterests of the youth. The HR laws need to be tailored to allow theyouth to grow, as well as provide them with a platform to earn theequivalent of their efforts. At the end of it all, the laws will onlypromote the prosperity of the organization by building an admirablereputation regarding its ability to mentor young people.
TheInternet, Email Security and Privacy
Themanagement of Internet and email security ranks among the mostcritical developing issues in human resource laws. The importance ofthis issue is augmented by the fact that emails are today`s channelsof communication in offices around the world. Initially, when emailsbegan being utilized as a medium of communication, they largelycomprised of a workplace email through which employees could handlebusiness matters both internally and externally. However, employeesstarted using their business emails for personal and irrelevantmatters. This required the human resource departments to designpolicies to govern the utilization of the official emails and theneed to monitor workplace email systems for incoming and outgoingemails.
Researchshows that almost half of companies with a workforce of more than1000 employees hire employees to scrutinize all outgoing emails inthe system (Dorey& Leite, 2011).Moreover, there is evidence to show that approximately 25% of allemails sent from the workplace via official emails pose a regulatory,legal, or financial risk (Dorey& Leite, 2011).At the same time, a significant number of companies have terminatedat least one employee due to the violation of email policies, whilesome of them have been ordered by the court to produce employeeemails.
Toavoid close monitoring by the human resource department, mostemployees have resorted to the use of web-based emails. This newdevelopment has not been addressed by human resource laws, and itpresents a tricky situation for human resource management. Moreover,research studies show that human resource departments in over 70% ofcompanies are concerned about the web-based emails because they couldpotentially cause liability to the companies in varied ways (Dorey& Leite, 2011).The issue of web-emails should be incorporated in human resource lawsto avoid liabilities that may arise due to the recklessness of theiremployees. Most companies do not know the fact that their employeesmay log in to their web-based emails to send a private message whileat work.
Emergingconcerns of domestic partner benefits
Twodecades ago, the issue of domestic partner benefits was unknown.Since then, numerous changes have happened to the normal Americanfamily. In the mid-twentieth Century, approximately 75% of Americanhouseholds consisted of married individuals with children. However,at present, only 50% of households consist of married couples withchildren (Bermanet al., 2015).Most of the modern families are headed by same-sex and unmarriedopposite-sex couples. The number of same-sex households has beenincreasingly high, and it continues to rise. Many of these same-sexcouples have adopted children.
Thereis sufficient evidence suggesting that the rising popularity of gaycouples in towns and cities has been affecting the business andeconomic wellbeing of these areas. This trend has affected thebusiness community, especially the need to attract and retaincompetitive employees. Consequently, since the early 2000s, a largenumber of firms, municipalities and States started offering a rangeof benefits to partners of gay and lesbian employees. Currently,almost one out of every three firms employing 5,000 workers or moreoffers health benefits to their domestic partners. Such companiesinclude Time Warner, Microsoft Corp, and IBM among others (Bermanet al., 2015).
Fortune500 companies have been on the frontline in driving this change. Morethan half of these firms provide some form of domestic partnerbenefits. For instance, Boeing issued a statement indicating that itsdecision to offer benefits to their employees’ partners wasinfluenced by the need to keep a qualified pool of human resources.Another company, Kodak indicated that it offers domestic partnerbenefits due to several reasons such as to attract and retain talent,promote equality and non-discrimination practices associated withsame-sex couples. Therefore, it is outright that the common themethroughout most of these companies’ practice of offering domesticpartner benefits is to promote equality at work and enhance theircompetitiveness in the market.
Federallaws affecting domestic partner benefits
Themain federal laws that affect domestic partner benefits are theDefense Act of Marriage (DOMA), the Employee Retirement IncomeSecurity Act (ERISA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and theInternational Revenue Code (IRC) among others (Barak,2013).DOMA restricts the acceptance of same-sex marriage certificates formone State to another and recognizes a ‘spouse’ as a man or womanmarried to the opposite sex. There is nothing in the law thatentitles gay employees to identical benefits as non-gay employees.
Dueto this fact, some private and public employers have been unwillingto offer domestic partner benefits to both same-sex and opposite sexemployee partners. In the private sector, the ERISA blocks State andlocal prohibitions that culminate into any form of employee benefitplan. There is no law that inhibits discrimination in employmentbased on sexual orientation of marital status. In the same way,district courts have decided that the failure by a private firm tooffer domestic partner benefits is not a violation of the federaldiscrimination law (Barak,2013).
TheInternal Revenue Service views the benefits provided as taxableincome. Employer-provided health insurance for individuals other thanthe employee includes the employee’s dependents or spouse. Adomestic partner does not fall under any of these categories unlessdependency tests are conducted. Currently, there is a pending bill onthe Domestic Partner Health Benefits Equity, which if passed, canamend the internal revenue code to exclude domestic partner benefitsfrom taxable income.
SomeStates such as Washington, New York, Connecticut, New Mexico and Iowaamong others have included their employees’ health benefits todomestic partners for those in same-sex marriages. In the same way,the City of Seattle passed a rule prohibiting the discrimination ofemployee benefits offered to domestic partners and spouses (Barak,2013).
Theissue of domestic partner benefits has sparked a range of policyissues in many human resource departments. As such, many departmentalpolicy makers may consider a range of alternatives to ensurecompliance with the new laws if they operate in the affected Statesor cities. Such considerations may include whether such benefits willattract and maintain skilled employees, whether they will enhanceemployee satisfaction, or if they can induce heavy administrativecosts. From a rational point of view, some benefits can result ininnumerable advantages that can make the working environment betterfor the employees and the human resource management. For instance,the Family and Medical Leave Act allow employees to be given leavewhen their spouses are suffering from serious medical conditions(Bermanet al., 2015).Therefore, the same reasoning that is behind the implementation ofFMLA would apply in the same way to unmarried workers in need ofleave time to take care of their ailing partners of the same sex.
Thisissue influences human resource laws by an extensive margin becausepeople may opt to work in firms that offer such types of benefits. Inthe same way, it may raise concerns as to whether the human resourcedepartments are under any obligation to provide benefits to theiremployees’ domestic partners. Nonetheless, this will depend on arange of factors such as whether the geographical location is underany related law of not, and whether the employer is a governmental ornon-governmental organization. Furthermore, some State statutes mayinfluence the human resource obligation to offer benefits to theemployees’ partners.
Therefore,given the changing demographics and other aspects of the population,changes in the workplace are revolutionizing human resource lawsgoverning the HR relation with employees, and the behavior oremployees while at work. These laws may have far-reaching outcomes tothe firms involved thus, necessitating a careful consideration. Inthat respect, companies are increasingly searching for qualifiedemployees while aiming to retain them to maintain theircompetitiveness in the markets they operate. Marketing efforts haveplaced more emphasis on the image of the companies and theirproducts. Advancements in technology have provided channels throughwhich employees can communicate and voice their views to a largeraudience. These developments have come with potential challenges thatthreaten security and privacy at work. This necessitates amending theexisting laws to provide clear guidelines on how to deal with thepotential issues. Other areas that require attention and legalamendments include the benefits offered to domestic partners, andTitle VII claims relating to employees from diverse backgrounds.Human resource laws need to be revised, particularly thecontroversial issues to accommodate changes and create an inclusivework environment.
Barak,M. E. M. (2013). Managingdiversity: Toward a globally inclusive workplace.Sage Publications.
Berman,E. M., Bowman, J. S., West, J. P., & Van Wart, M. R.(2015). Humanresource management in public service: Paradoxes, processes, andproblems.Sage Publications.
Bowen,W. G., & Finegan, T. A. (2015). Theeconomics of labor force participation.Princeton University Press.
Dorey,P. G., & Leite, A. (2011). Commentary: Cloud computing–Asecurity problem or solution?. informationsecurity technical report, 16(3),89-96.
Ehrenberg,R. G., & Smith, R. S. (2016). Modernlabor economics: Theory and public policy.Routledge.
Walsh,D. J. (2015). Employmentlaw for human resource practice.Nelson Education.Countouris,