Human rights are non-negotiable basic rights irrespective of cultural and economic contexts. This does not imply they are not frequently flouted since cases of employee human rights violations abound in many workplaces.
To safeguard your employees’ human rights, developing a deliberate, systematic approach to fostering a human rights culture is critical. Below are a few guidelines you can implement at the workplace to protect the rights of all your employees.
1. Have a Human Rights Policy
Having a human rights policy provides the basis for a deliberate, systematic approach to human rights preservation at the workplace. It demonstrates the commitment of an organization to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected. It also stipulates what steps an organization will take in the event of a violation of human rights. Such a policy clearly explains what the organization’s role is concerning working conditions, recruitment, career progression, workplace culture, promotion, pay, etc.
2. Provide Human Rights Training
Besides having a formal written human rights policy, you need to train employees on how to actualize it for the benefit of the entire organization. The main aim of training employees is to make sure they can attain the standards sets out in the HR policy. The training aims at enlightening employees on what their rights are in the event of a human rights violation. Employees also receive training on how to respond to different kinds of human rights violations. They also receive training on behaviours and attitudes that propagate the respect of human rights for all.
Human rights training should target all cadre of staff, starting from the lowest, to line managers, and all the way to the senior managers. The training is important since it fosters an organizational culture that respects and implements human rights.
3. Assign Responsibility for Implementing Human Rights
While every staff member is responsible for the implementation of human rights in an organization, it is important that a select person, preferably a senior staff member, or a committee, be picked to bear the overall responsibility for enforcing human rights. If the individual selected to spearhead the implementation of the human rights policy has other duties, he or she should be allowed enough time to attend to human rights issues. An organization might even appoint a dedicated (full time) human rights officer with requisite qualifications and experience. Where a committee is preferred over one individual, it should be fully representative and ensure that views from all diverse groups of employees are considered.
4. Provide a Human Rights Roadmap
It’s important to have a human rights roadmap that sets the objectives of your human rights policy, and how to achieve them. This is determined after a review of the human rights situation in your organization. The roadmap articulates steps for improving its human rights record. It provides a framework within which staff who have been trained in human rights can apply their skills and knowledge. The aim of a human rights roadmap is to promote equality, prevent discrimination, accommodate people with disabilities, accommodate diversity, and in general protect and respect human rights.
5. Conduct a Human Rights Impact Assessment
The aim of conducting a human rights impact assessment is to bring human rights issue to the centre of major decision making in an organization. The assessment seeks to ensure that a human rights policy is compliant with the best standards and practices and that it adheres to equality and diversity stipulations. It involves collecting data, qualitative and quantitative, on groups experiencing, or at a risk of, human rights violations.
Using the data, the assessment tests the human rights policy for potential positive, negative, or neutral impact. Besides, it forms the basis for initiating dialogue with groups experiencing human rights violations. Finally, a human rights impacts assessment informs decision making in terms of the steps to be taken and helps in monitoring the progress of a human rights implementation plan.
Despite your best efforts, you may face a human rights complaint from an employee. If this occurs, contact an employment lawyer right away.