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Is your workplace infringing on your human rights?

Mar 21 2019 11:53
Carin Smith

While there are many South African companies who admirably reward hard work and engagement, there are unfortunate situations that blur the lines between unfair practices and human rights infringements, according to Dr Mark Bussin, executive member and past president of the South African Reward Association (SARA).

He said that, how companies distribute their benefits, burdens and rewards becomes more salient during times of austerity.

"The remuneration that top executives receive is very disproportionate to what the lowest level of workers earns. When it comes to just corporate behaviour, worker pay-related issues are at or close to the top of the list of things that employees consider, said Bussin.

"Today, South African CEOs earn far more than they did in previous decades. This destroys morale, demotivates workers, and raises more than a few ethical questions."

Bussin suggests that annual bonuses, for example, could be paid out as an equal percentage to all levels across the business.

"Instead of the top-level executives earning a 100% bonus and the lowest level workers earning 10%, consider giving everyone across the board a 25% annual bonus," he suggests.

Furthermore, he points out that in South Africa, women earn over 18% less than men, and this gap continues to grow.

"The gender wage gap, combined with how women are prejudiced in the workplace, is an infringement on human rights. Companies need to deeply consider unconscious biases throughout their supply chain," says Bussin.

Another issue he raised is that some companies hire foreign labour, particularly labour from neighbouring countries, because they can pay below the minimum wage.

"A local employee who gets paid below the minimum wage can easily go to the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration), but foreigners either can't or don't. The exploitation of foreigners is tied to human rights, and it's something that needs to change from within companies," says Bussin.

He adds that South Africans are three times more likely to work 60 hours a week than many other countries, making them some of the hardest workers in the world.

"South Africans are working much longer hours than their employment contracts specify. This is an infringement of human rights."

jobs  |  sa economy  |  equality  |  human rights


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