Dangers of banning religion in workplaces

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Australians take pride in two matters with respect to religion: the right to be free from a government- imposed religion, and a right to practice any religion. As Reuters (2010) states "Religion is a matter of belief and practice, and religious beliefs will rarely affect the duties of our employment." Nevertheless those who are faithful will always practice and carry out their custom and traditions, behaving themselves according to their beliefs. Federal and state law requires that employees not be treated unfairly on the basis of religion (Reuters, 2010).

However, it is often difficult to avoid conflicts between work and religion, due to the increase in population diversity. A report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2008) has described the significant increase in the number of religious discrimination charges. From this, we've come to realise how important it is for employees and employers to understand each other's rights and responsibilities.

Religion conflicts within the workplace can arise in a wide variety of context. An example that (Wolf, Friedman, and Sutherland, 1998) mentioned is when an employer denies for an employee's request for leave to practice a religious custom, making them choose between career and religion. Another common example in the workplace is when one employee actively promotes their religious views, whilst another colleague finds it insulting and offensive. In this case, whose side should HR managers take, when one employee demands for freedom of speech, while others demand for the employees' termination because of what they believe to be as harassment?

There are a number of ethical frameworks that can inform us in making ethical decisions. As we seek to address these issues, we will discuss the viewpoints based on the four "C's" approach: Character and Culture, Care, Consistency and Consequences.

CHARACTER & CULTURE

Religion and culture are intertwined, in that they both influence and define the set of rules of what is right and wrong. It is through these rules that help shape an individual's character, principles, values, and beliefs. As religion and culture acts as a foundation for individuals to conduct themselves, the policy of banning religion would lead to poor quality of work, as employees are unable to show their "true self". Being able to act and perform in a way that reflects the type of character they are.

CARE

The morality of care stresses the understanding of relationships. Here the policy of banning religion within the workplace could lead to a fall-out amongst the employees and employers. As religion underpin and bonds the relationships between people's understanding of values and beliefs.

CONSISTENCY

As part of the role, HR managers should be able to "make impartial judgements as to the ultimate rightness and wrongness of conduct and the values to which priority ought to be given in personal, social, and political decision-making" (Maclagan, 1998). To become an ethical profession, one must seek to address issues with reasonable behaviour, regardless of the motives or outcomes, as long as it satisfies the set of rules and ethical code of conduct (deontological).

If you acknowledge one religion, you need to acknowledge all. For example, if one Catholic at work displays a cross, then the Buddhist may display a Buddha, the Jewish may display the Menorah symbol. So in this case, where do we draw the line?

In this situation HR professions should seeks to eliminate all religious practices within the workplace or allow them all, because inconsistencies in dealing with ethical problems within an organisation can lead to a damage in reputation, and as a result will lead to poor management and other internal problems

CONSEQUENCES

The principle of maximising utility by maximising benefits over costs (utilitarianism). This theory relates to this issue (banning religion in the workplace) in that the outcome of the policy will immensely benefit the organisation, as it promotes the principle of equality and social justice.

RESPONSIBILITIES AND IMPLEMENTATIONS

In this situation, one of the main roles of HR professions is to establish policies that clearly states that any religion practices within the workplace is prohibited, as to benefiting the interest of the organisation. CEO's should stress this point by creating a statement in the company policy that clearly states that "any form of religious discrimination is not acceptable" (Mesriani, 2010), and "to avoid religious discrimination, no religion practices is allowed in the workplace" (Mesriani, 2010). However, if the policy creates adversity, or will affect the company's operations, CEO's are required to look into this matter, and re-evaluate the company's performance.

Nevertheless, in most cases disputes between employees and employers can be settled through simple negotiation. The actual cause in most conflicts is that people often ignore and overlook things, which leads to miscommunication between the management.

1.3 DRUG TESTING

One of the main social, legal, and economic issues in today's society is the use of drugs within the workplace. As employers become more aware of this issue, they have a legitimate reason to prevent this from happening, because the reality for employers is that drugs will affect the employees' wellbeing and their ability to produce quality work. As a result, this will lead to poor quality of work and will damage the company's reputation.

The introduction of employee drug testing will assist HR managers and CEO's in many ways. One of the benefits is that it shows how much the company values the health and safety of its employees, not only that it also encourages its employees with substance abuse problem to seek treatment, recover, and return to work.

However, as HR professions, they should ensure that the implementation of employee drug testing should not violate the employees' privacy. "The tests must respect the dignity and rights of the person to be tested. The employee should not be forced, but make their own decisions" (Shaw, 2009).

Here the following ethical framework (the four "C's" approach) will help us in determining the outcome of this particular issue "drug testing".

CHARACTER AND CULTURE

An organisation's culture plays a vital role in shaping the way an employee acts and behave, as their beliefs and values reflects the company's overall corporate values and performance goals. The result of the drug test will help HR managers in determining the type of character that they are. If the drug test happens to be positive, then the employee is deemed to be clean and honest. On the other hand, if the result is negative the employee is proved to be a dishonest and unreliable character

CARE

Employers have the right to know the health and wellbeing of its employees because the organisation is directly responsible for any harm that is done to its employees within the workplace. Managers who have some knowledge of drug use in the workplace will gain a better understanding of its employees, as to why they are using it and how they can help to prevent this from happening to other fellow team members.

CONSISTENCY

HR managers should ensure that all drug testing are consistent amongst the different levels of management, despite of their roles or position. As the use of drug in the workplace affects the way in which employees interact with their fellow members and customers, a uniform structure will prevent inconsistencies in the results and findings.

CONSEQUENCES

Whether the results are positive or negative, the employees should know the outcome of taking drugs, and they must face the consequences of their actions. Should they be dismissed immediately and be charged with criminal charges? Or should they be allowed to go to rehabilitation and be given a second chance and retain their positions?

As we ask these questions, let's weigh the cost of a company's' high absenteeism, high medical cost, accidents, and injuries, in comparison to a policy that monitors the use of drugs amongst employees on a regular basis. The implementation of this policy may not significantly impact the entire organizations' operations, but to some extent a few employees will find it intruding to their privacy.

RESPONSIBILITIES AND IMPLEMENTATIONS

One of the main obligations of HR managers is their duty of care towards their employees, being able to know that they're working in a safe working environment. As the organisation implements drug testing, CEO's should set objectives and specify the expectations and consequences of violating the policy.

Moreover, in order for the policy to be effective HR managers should ensure that the drug testing is consistent; this means that everyone is equal regardless of their roles or positions. Also, the information that is sought about each individual should be kept confidential, and should only be access by given authority.

1.4 PERSONALITY PROFILING

Personality profiling is the way of understanding how an individual tends to behave in an environment which helps the company to maximise the individual performance and his contribution to the company (Jirli, 2010).

The introduction of "Personality profiling" could benefit organisations and assist HR managers in developing team work, as it acts as a tool for recruitment staff in determining the best match for that particular job. However, as Trull (2005) states "Gaining an understanding of motives or the dynamics of personality is virtually impossible using most objective assessment since the questions is generally behavioural in nature".

As we seek to address this issue, the four "C's" approach will assist us in assessing the significance of this issue of "personality profiling".

CHARACTER AND CULTURE

Employers have a legitimate claim upon any information that is relevant to an employee, as they are contracted to perform specific roles within the organisation. However, because the personal information identifies what type of character the employee is, HR managers should keep each profile restricted to a certain level.

The profiling of the job applicant will guide assessors on how to distribute the tasks amongst the team, based on an individual's qualities, background, culture, qualifications and behaviour.

CARE

Personality profiling amongst employees has allow managers to pay attention to specific aspects of an employee's life. This means that, in certain circumstances managers are able to interact one on one with the employee with the aim of helping the employee out with their problems. Since, one of the roles of HR managers is "to take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions that would likely injure a person" (Raniolo, & Ellison, N.A). The act of doing so would prevent unnecessary trouble

CONSISTENCY

One of the main things that HR managers try to avoid is to discriminate or show favouritism and prejudice towards one employee, particularly in this situation. As professions, managers must be very cautious and avoid being bias because this will affect productivity and trust between employees and managers. Hence, HR managers should not judge the performance of a particular employee based on a certain characteristic or aspect of their profile, for example, religion, background, or appearance.

CONSEQUENCES

Establishing a personality profiling policy may benefit the organisation in that they get a better understanding of the individuals. However, the result of this may be inaccurate which in the long term may have a negative impact on both the employees and employers. For example, two people may mark that they drink more than 3 glasses of alcohol a night. Does this mean that they both drink for the same reason? One may drink in order to get to sleep, while the other is depressed and another may party every night. There are so many possibilities as to what the motives for one's actions

RESPONSIBILITIES AND IMPLEMENTATIONS

There are countless obligations for HR managers and CEO's in this particular situation. However, the key question here is "Would personality profiling result in an inaccurate perception of the life and role of the profiler?" As a result, the findings of this field may attract individuals who are poorly suited to competent practice. CEO's should diligently try to make business decisions and take actions that are guided by their values or moral code. However, human behaviour is probabilistic not deterministic (Miller, 2003). Therefore, personality profiling can only be used as a starting point.

CEO's need to understand how this practice may benefit or harm the organisation, both short and long terms and HR managers should determine on how personality profiling can help the individual adapt to the organisation's culture.

1.5 CONCLUSION

The implementation of new policies within the workplace and the banning religion within the workplace is a delicate issue that must be handled properly. Communication to the employees is critical as well as employee involvement in the implementation of any kind of policy formation. HR managers must be able to foresee problems that might occur including those ethical issues that may arise and CEO's should develop strategic plans to prevent any conflict that may occur between an employee and an employer.

On the other hand, employees should be encouraged to realise their personal responsibilities under their contract, particularly those who deal with personal information on a regular basis. The policies and procedures must be clearly stated and followed for an organisation to be properly protected. Employee contracts should state that the organisation's policies are fundamental to the employer's business and must be adhered to at all times. Failure to adhere to policies should be specified to be a breach of the employees' terms and conditions of employment which could lead to dismissal on the ground of misconduct. Procedures should be implemented by employers for employees to ask questions about any policy in operation. As such, the implementation of the policies above should be executed properly to ensure its full effectiveness.

Reuters, T. (2010). Religion in the Workplace - Employee Rights Centre. Retrieved 20th April 2011 from http://employment.findlaw.com/employment/employment-employee-discrimination-harassment/employment-employee-religion-discrimination-top/employment-employee-religion-workplace(1).html

Gadget, M. (2010). Religion and the Workplace. Retrieved 20th April 2011 from http://hubpages.com/hub/BELIEF-FAITH-AND-RELIGION-IN-THE-WORKPLCE

Shaw, T. (2009). Ethical Considerations when Drug Testing in the Workplace. Retrieved 22nd April 2011 from http://www.recruitmentdirectory.com.au/Blog/ethical-considerations-when-drug-testing-in-the-workplace-a194.html

Raniolo, R & Ellison, M. (n.a). Duty of Care. Retrieved 30th April 2011 from http://www.swtafe.edu.au/Staff/policies/policies/docs/institute/Duty_of_Care_-_Minter_Ellison.pdf

Miller, J. (2003). Human ecology. USA; Acid Free Paper

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