Employment laws are the laws that govern the rights and duties between workers and their employers. Primarily, these laws are designed to ensure workers’ safety and also guaranty that they are accorded fair treatment by the employers. However, these laws are also in place in order to safeguard the interests of the employers (Brodie 2003). They are based on constitution of the state, federal laws as well as the administrative rules and legislation along with court decisions. In the early 20th century, the 1st labour laws to be created were aimed at compensating injured workers while in the line of duty, establishing workers minimum wages and to outlaw engagement of children in labour. As time went by, issues of discrimination were then considered and appropriate laws were put in place to fight the vice.
Federal laws generally establish the baseline rules with respect to the issues raised by either the employer or the employee. The state, on the other hand, passes these laws and provides additional protection (Brodie 2003). For instance, issues of minimum wage are handled in this manner. The federal laws provide the minimum wages employees should earn per hour and then the state laws regulate whether to increase the stated amount or adhere to it. This, in turn, is reflected upon the employer who has no otherwise but to obey the laws of the state. The UK has the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 that effectively carries out this duty.
The issue of labour standards in terms of code of conduct has become a vital issue that is being discussed and considered globally. These codes of conduct are laid out in the standards of the international labour organization (ILO). The laid standards are put in place in order to ensure that a decent and humane working environment is created. All companies that are affiliated with the ILO are expected to fully comply with the laid out laws and regulations. The standards that are as per the ILO aims ensure the employer provides safe and healthy settings in order to avoid the occurrence of accidents in the course of operating the facilities by the employees (Bercusson 2009). By doing so, the health and wellbeing of employees as well as other members of the public is safeguarded. Due to the standards, employers bear a responsibility of adopting measures that aimed at mitigating the negative impacts that the workplace they create might have on the environment and its occupants.
Labour laws are governed by basic legal principles that aim at standardizing the conditions for work created for workers in any working environment. These principles include equal opportunities, safety, collective bargain and fairness (Davidov & Langille 2011). The principle of equal opportunity dictates that every individual has to be given equal opportunities of work and meet the minimum requirements for that particular work. On the other hand, the principle of collective bargain allows employees to form groups as well as trade unions that advocate for their rights and ensure the existing laws are adhered to. Safety principle bases its existence on the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1976. This principle dictates that a safe working environment is created for work to be carried out. Finally, the principle of fairness is extremely fundamental. It allows fairness in employment and discourages discrimination and any form of bias by employers in relation to employees. It advocates that all employees receive the minimum standard treatment (Davidov & Langille 2011).
In every society, safety of individuals is always given the first priority. This is the same case when it comes to businesses and companies. The employer has the fundamental role to ensure that its employees are secure and safe and away from all kinds of harm that could affect their wellbeing, physical condition and health. As a result, laws have been put in place to ensure that workplace safety is observed. The Occupational Safety and Health Act have been put in place by the International Labour Organization. This Act necessitates that those employers covered by the Act, fully comply with the regulations it promulgates (Ragowski 2013). As a result, it becomes the general duty of the employer to provide the employees with a workplace free from all recognizable hazards. However, it is also upon the employees to carry out their duties and responsibilities according to the rules and regulations set by the employer and also fully follow the due processes in their line of work. The safety of an individual is one of the prior issues and therefore, employees should take safety measures while in the course of carrying out their duties.
Employees have the duty to follow the regulations of their employment and fully adhere to them in order to avoid situations of self-caused harm (Bercusson 2009). The case of the Condor Vitesse is chosen as an example for this study. The vessel, Condor Vitesse was involved in a collision in the year 2011. The collision involved a French fishing boat with the death of the fisherman as a result of fall. Luckily, boat involved in the collision with the vessel was of a small size. If Condor Vitesse collided with another vessel of equal size, then the size of the damage and the number of deaths would have been alarming. The ship was en route from St Malo to Jersey and the visibility was limited due to foggy weather. The incident prompted the suspension of the Master together with his Chief Officer pending investigation. The company’s policies where reviewed, the procedures of sailing through fog as well as the relevant equipment aimed at aiding the navigation in such conditions were also reviewed. The internal investigation by the company and external investigation carried out by Beamer, the French investigation body, found the two guilty for Gross Misconduct. As a result, both were terminated from duty. Investigations showed that the two had failed to follow the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972. The vessel was travelling too fast regardless of the fog and the radars as well as the lookouts were not given the proper attention (Gault 2003). The negligence of the two called for the legal action had to be taken in order to prevent occurrence of similar accidents.
The laws that govern the sailing and steering of vessels clearly state that under all conditions of visibility, all vessels must at all times properly maintain look-outs not just by sight, but by hearing as well. In this way, a full appraisal of the situation can be made and risks of collision reduced. The speed should also be manageable in a way that in case of any emergency that could lead to a collision, the vessel should be at a considerable distance that would allow stopping (Gault 2003). The vessel should also sound a fog signal to prevent occurrence of accident and use the necessary tools such as the radar to detect other vessels. The Master and his Chief Officer both failed to follow the above regulations and as a result, an accident was caused. Their poor handling of the situation clearly shows the amount of negligence they had given the situation. This negligence can rightfully be termed as misconduct as they did not follow through the rules and regulations entailed in their course of duty. Eventually, the result of their misconduct led to the death of an individual.
The code of business conduct and ethics of employees is generally the most fundamental document that governs the running of any business (Bercusson 2009). It is the foundation by which business practices are constructed. This document should not only be compliance-based but values-based as well. In this case, the workers of the company are able not only to comply with the regulations of the business, but also work within the limits of their values. It is extremely unethical for the dismissal of a worker if he/she has not been given valid reasons as to why firing had to be used to terminate the working experience. Therefore, it is only right that a notice to be given and valid reasons to be stated in order to avoid malpractice thoughts and views among the employees (Ragowski 2013). It is also necessary that the notice is to be given within the statutory minimum notice period or the period stated in the employment contract.
The dismissal also needs to be consistent in a way that all employees face the axe if they happen to do the same thing that is worth dismissing. It is proper that fairness is to be exercised to avoid charges of discrimination and biasness.
The action of dismissing the Master and the Chief Officer of the vessel seems to be the right course of action since the two had proven to be redundant. They were unable to fully adhere to the regulations governing the sailing of vessels in foggy conditions. By doing so, the two had put the lives of the crew as well as their passengers at risk had the vessel collided with a much bigger vessel. The two also caused the death of another, a death that could had easily been avoided by adhering to simple instructions. The dismissal steps in the case of the Master and the Chief Officer had also been legally followed as a period of investigation was set aside and valid reasons for dismissal were given.
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Thus, legal implication of the dismissal decision on the grounds of redundancy is justifiable, since a tribunal was set to investigate the occurrence of the accident. The same tribunal also used recording from the bridge and heard the testimonies of witnesses. Furthermore, both the Master and the Chief Officer were questioned to determine their actions. The results proved that negligence had been the root cause of the accident and, therefore, was only right if the due process was followed, i.e. relieving the two employees of their duties as they had proved unfit to work.
Dismissal being the main issue in the study gives rise to the question whether it is the right resort when correcting any worker that does not follow the regulations set aside by the employer concerned (Biagi 2000). If ones employment is terminated contrary to Employment Rights Act 1996, then the dismissal is termed as unfair according to the UK labour laws. It is only fair to dismiss one if he/she performs redundantly, is misconduct in behaviour and is not qualified for the job or his/her capabilities fail to meet the requirements. Currently, dismissal is undergoing development. According to the Employment Protection Act 1996, one cannot dismiss a worker by the mere fact of wrongful doing and, therefore, the decision of dismissal can be challenged in the court and thereafter nullified if sufficient evidence of uselessness of the worker is not determined (Biagi 2000). However, the new laws seem to be swaying towards increasing the period for unfair dismissal. An individual will have to have worked for more than two years in order to claim unfair dismissal. An employee can be dismissed from work without any necessary regulations to be followed if he/she has not completed two years of employment. On the issue of misconduct in employees, they will stand a chance of dismissal if they act inappropriately, for instance, act violently without any notice of dismissal. This approach is meant to serve as a way of improving the attitude of workers towards work, however, can be misused as a means of unfair dismissal of employees by their employers.
The labour laws are of extreme importance. For instance, the enactment of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 has even gone as far as delegating enforcement roles to local authorities who have the power to investigate work place systems as well as require changes in these systems (Brodie 2003). Basically, the functionality of this Act is to ensure that work is carried out in a completely friendly environment that safeguards the health and safety of workers. The Working Time Regulations 1998 is a law that has proven to be fundamental in the labour sector. This regulation sets the limits on the time an employee spends working. It also implements the basic requirement of giving employees time off from work for a reasonable amount of time. The basic rights in international law mandate that employees be given four full weeks as time off while on full payroll. The role of the internationally acknowledged Law is to help an employee strike a balance between work and life. The Labour laws also bear in mind the future of the employees. Adoption of the Pension Act 2008 by the UK government ensures all jobholders in the working age to be enrolled in an occupational pension scheme by their employers (Ragowski 2013). Such scheme is simply aimed at safeguarding the future of an individual upon retirement. Basically, all laws that are set aside by the International Labour Organization, local federals as well as states, aim at safeguarding the interests of the employees to enable them work efficiently towards achieving the goals set by the employer.
In conclusion, it is important that employees and their employers all follow a specific code of conduct that is either laid down in the federal laws or in the company’s laws and regulations. By so doing, employers are able to assure their workers a friendly environment by which work can be carried out effectively and efficiently. On the other hand, employees are able to maintain their employers’ image as well as prevent the denting of their own. It is important that employees understand the role they play in a company’s success and also understand the consequences their actions have on their employment security. It is also important for the employers to understand the role they play in the employees’ life and, thus, work tirelessly towards ensuring that they have the necessary environment as well as policies to promote positivity in their work. Finally, the employment laws ought to be safeguarded by all means as they ensure that proper working environment is created.
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