Courtesy

Have you noticed any trends in the labour market?

Since the pandemic started, there have been many legal battles between employers and employees in different parts of the world. Listening to some cases will make you realize that some offenses were caused by ignorance and a large portion by lack of familiarity of the local and global employment laws that apply in different situations.

This article looks at the trends in workplaces and the relevant laws so you can be on the safe side.

1. Recruitment

a. Discrimination

The internet has made the world seem small and brought the best of talents closer to employers. In the last few years, people have become more vocal and accommodating of their preferences and employers have been tapped to pay attention and consider their viewpoint when hiring. It can be anything from religion, race, age, family status, health conditions, political viewpoints and others.

When it comes to recruitment, beware that a simple post can be misinterpreted and lead to legal battles. Eliminate any language that might suggest that you are strongly against certain categories of people.

Second, it is possible to get hundreds or thousands of job applications when seeking just a few candidates. It is quite obvious that a number of criteria will be used to shortlist the candidates. Note that some rejected candidates might not take it lightly and can pick on any of factor and file cases of discrimination even when the reasons for rejection are valid.

Just a few years ago, a woman sued a potential employer in the childcare industry claiming that she was discriminated at the fourth and final interview round for not having children of her own despite meeting all the academic and professional qualifications. While we do not have the facts about the case, this is just an example of how a decision can be viewed from another perspective and turned into a sour and expensive battle.

As an employer, you should review your workplace practices and eliminate any biases to avoid lawsuits.

b. Personal details

In some cases, employers have the upper hand of asking for any relevant information from potential employees to guide their hiring process. In some countries, employers are prohibited from asking for social media details of their potential candidates or employees or monitoring their social media usage, place of birth, pregnancy status, or medical history. In Massachusetts for example, employers should state their compensation upfront rather than asking potential candidates about their previous salaries.

There is also a bill in Kenya that if passed will prohibit employers from asking fresh graduates for HELB clearance forms, certificate of good conduct, EACC compliance forms, and others.

c. Child labour

Due to economic hardships posed by the pandemic, some parents are pushing their seemingly ‘big and mature’ children to work. And with the referral system that is solid and growing in the globe, you may end up hiring a child. As an employer, know that no matter how ‘big and mature’ a worker looks or how light the work seems, if he/she has not attained legal working age, you may be in for long legal battles. Always follow the right recruitment route where all details will be verified.

 

  1. Workplace Safety

A few years ago, workplace safety was mainly considered in industrial setups. Employers were advised to ensure that workers have sufficient protective equipment and that the workplace was safe for all. They were also subject to being investigated by authority personnel randomly.

Only in rare cases could one hear of lawsuits due to hazards in office-based workplaces. With the pandemic, things have changed. COVID-19 has been considered a hazard and employers have been advised to ensure that prevention measures are observed in the workplaces not only for their safety, but to prevent any legal cases of unsafe working environments.

Even with the recently loosened COVID-19 prevention measures in Kenya, it is advisable that you still maintain the prevention measures in the workplace. Safety also applies to response in case of an injury in the workplace. Normally, employers are advised to cater for such whether employees are on-site or in remote places.

  1. Remote work

In as much as remote work has been a great success, there are certain legal matters that you should take note. First, know who can work remotely and who cannot. There are people who cannot work remotely for legitimate reasons and pushing them to it means that it would only be a matter of time before they file against you for discrimination and exposing them to risks.

Second, consider regional minimum wages and taxes especially for candidates from other regions. Some states have strict laws on the minimum wage for employees; comply. If there are no specifics, you are subject to fair compensation laws.

It is crucial that you follow the right employment route even with a remote team such as clear classifications, working hours, work requirements, paid time off, compensation, and others.

  1. Termination

Gone are the days when employers could fire their employees for whichever reason, whenever and however they wish or when employees could accept a verbal or written termination letter as final and walk out of an office without saying a word.

Nowadays there are laws protecting employees from unfair termination and that give them room to inquire reasons behind their termination. Since the pandemic stated, millions of people have lost their jobs and businesses and quite a number of employers have found themselves in tough legal wars with claims of unfair termination and have been ordered to compensate the former employees.

If you have to let go of some employees, be sure to follow the right procedure of informing them about the move and the reasons.

In conclusion,

As time goes, we will be witnessing more changes in employment trends and revision of the laws. Legal battles are mentally and emotionally draining so be on the lookout and update where necessary.