Principles of Personal Responsibilities and Working in a Business Environment

1 January 2017

An employment contract is a very important document. It spells out the key things you can expect from your employer and what your employer expects from you. Once you’ve worked for your employer for two months, you have the legal right to receive details of your terms and conditions of employment in writing. This information may come in a letter or a formal contract of employment. Alternatively, you may get a document outlining the main terms of employment, with signposts to where you can find other essential information. Key legislation

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What’s covered? Virtually every aspect of your employment is covered by law. In the UK, the law applies to businesses and organisations of all sizes and in all sectors. There are four main areas covered by legislation: 1. Health and safety 2. Employment rights and responsibilities 3. Pay and pensions 4. Data protection. Sector specific legislation Legislation applies to all businesses and organisations. They must find out which laws / regulations apply to them so they can follow these laws correctly. They should also ensure that each employee knows the law and how it relates to his or her job role.

If a business claimed they did not know the law, it would be no defence if they got into trouble for not following the law. In many organisations, employees are told all about general and industry-specific laws during the induction process. Specific laws and regulations apply to areas such as food safety, employment agencies, private security industries and many more. The importance of legislation Why have laws? Laws are created in business to protect employers, employees, customers and third parties. If laws didn’t exist, people would be unprotected and things may get out of control.

There would be no clear way to resolve differences or difficulties. Laws help businesses to have rules of conduct that apply to all relevant parties. Other methods can also be used to resolve differences of opinion or behaviour that break these rules – such as courts / tribunals. Courts use an objective, evidence-based approach to solve problems to do with breaking the law, rather than using force or power to resolve an issue. Be informed! Sources of information You can find useful information about employment rights and responsibilities in many different places!

Some sources of information may be found within an organisation (known as internal sources) while other sources are found outside the organisation (known as external sources). Internal sources of information may include: * Line managers * Personnel specialists * Informed colleagues * Staff association representatives * Trade union representatives * Books and documents held within the organisation.

People often assume that all employees in the workplace are the same. However, when you think about this in more detail, it’s obvious that a huge amount of differences (or diversity) can exist in a workplace. A few categories of diversity can be seen on the right of this page! At times, differences are treated with suspicion or they are resisted. However, diversity can add real value to an organisation and should be seen as a positive thing. Equality Equal rights for all In all organisations, it’s important that all employees are treated in an equally fair way and are given equal opportunities.

Also, people doing the same job equally well should be rewarded fairly. There is a moral and legal obligation to treat people on their merits and their ability to do the job. Both employers and employees should make sure that inappropriate labelling, stereotyping and prejudice do not influence the way an organisation operates. Being sensitive to others Politeness and respect To be sensitive to others, there are some simple steps to follow! 1. Be aware of judgements you make about others. Are you prejudiced or prone to pre-judge other people?

Are you likely to generalise about (stereotype) a category of people? 2. Focus on the actual person and not the ‘label’ that may be put on them. 3. Always look for the positive attributes people may bring to a situation. 4. Be willing to learn about people ‘who are different’. 5. Recognise that some differences of opinion will exist. As long as these do not interfere with work, then the differences should be tolerated. If differences interfere with work, then they need to be discussed and addressed in a civil manner. 6. Be polite, patient and treat people with the respect that you would expect.

What are the benefits? Equality and diversity Before we end the Session, have a go at this Activity and think about the benefits of equality and diversity procedures. Activity Business A always chooses people from the same family for its senior management jobs. Some of the original managers employed from this family were very competent. However, others have proven less capable. Business B always employs the person with the best skills and competences. Factors such as family ties, race, gender, etc are of little importance compared with ability. Health and safety Staying safe at work

All employers and employees have a legal duty to ensure that working environments are safe and secure. One of the most important pieces of legislation is the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974. Most other health and safety regulations are based on this Act or are linked to it in some way. The Health and Safety at Work Act states that everyone has a responsibility for health and safety in the workplace. Under this Act, employers must ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees (and any other people who may be affected by the work they do). Legislation More on legislation

In addition to generic legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, there may also be specific legislation that covers your job role. We can’t cover every industry and job role in this course. However, to illustrate an example, (and because you’re doing an online course), let’s look at some of the legislation that applies when you are working with Information Technology (IT). Then you can find out about Working Time Regulations! Security and confidentiality The legalities There are several Acts of Parliament relating to security and confidentiality, as well as many legal cases on the subject.

Two of the most important Acts are summarised below: The Data Protection Act 1998 This Act requires all organisations that process data on individuals to be listed in the register of data controllers. In the Act, data refers to information recorded or processed by computer and information that is part of a relevant filing system or forms part of an accessible record (like health records) Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) This legislation limits what can be done with information originated elsewhere. This is to protect the rights of people who create original work.

The law applies to books, computer programs, artistic work and songs. Why follow procedures? Having a framework in place By having health, safety and security procedures, an organisation has a framework for making sure that the business environment is a healthy, safe and secure place for everyone. These procedures should clarify who is responsible for what. Care should also be taken to ensure that people are informed and trained in a way that makes a safer environment more achievable. Take a look at the list below and see some key reasons for following health, safety and security procedures. Legal * Organisational rules * Moral * Economic. Legal In this Session, you have learned that there are many laws relating to the creation of safe and secure business environments.

To comply with the law, an organisation must undertake specific actions and people must follow specified procedures. A failure to follow procedures may mean that the law is being broken. This can result in reprimands, fines, closures and even prison sentences. Organisational rules Each organisation will have procedures for staff to follow. Many of these will be determined by legal requirements.

If staff or management fail to follow these procedures, they are likely to be subject to organisational grievance / disciplinary procedures. Ultimately, these can result in people being dismissed. These actions do not rule out further legal action. Moral An organisation’s health, safety and security procedures are created to ensure that people do not come to any harm. If procedures are not followed, people inside or outside the organisation may suffer in some way. For this reason, employers and employees have a moral obligation to do the right thing and follow procedures. In this way, harm may be minimised. Economic

Some of the main economic consequences for failing to follow appropriate health, safety and security procedures include: Fines for breaking the law Key business processes or the whole organisation being shut down due to problems Compensation payments to staff, customers or others Increased costs of trying to attract and keep good quality staff in an organisation where harm has occurred Loss of customers who are aware of the health, safety or security problems of an organisation. If a worker in a factory has an accident, the factory may be fined, closed until things are put right and could even lose customers.

These are all economic consequences of not following procedures. Are you secure? Why have a security system? Security systems are put in place to protect buildings, equipment, staff, personal possessions and information. Maintaining security and confidentiality Some of the key reasons for maintaining security and confidentiality are to: * Prevent buildings from being entered by unauthorised people and from being vandalised * Minimise burglaries and thefts (possessions / information) * Protect staff from personal attack or assault * Protect computer systems from hackers / viruses Keep plans and commercially sensitive materials secret * Meet legal responsibilities (such as data protection principles).

Organisations must follow health, safety and security procedures. Failure to do so may result in dire consequences for an organisation. On the other hand, if employees, customers and others can see that an organisation works hard to look after people’s wellbeing, then the organisation will be held in high esteem as a caring and professional organisation. This is why employers and employees should take this subject very seriously.

You don’t have the authority to make such a decision but at the same time you can’t opt to do nothing at all. In this instance you should bring it to the attention of an appropriate manager. Get help An important piece of machinery breaks down, which means that half of the workforce has little to do and there is a continuing build-up of part-finished products. The machine needs to be repaired and the whole production line needs to be organised as efficiently as possible. This is the job of a manager and is not your problem.

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