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C1 Workplace quality and affirmative action

A) Goal of the indicator

No area of life is excluded from basic human rights. Thus the inviolability of human dignity, the right to physical integrity and the right to free personal development and equal opportunity apply to work life without restriction as well.

At the workplace (on the job), human dignity is reflected in the equity and equal opportunities of all persons working in the company and in the goal of working conditions which are as healthful, free and cooperative as possible. The opposite are exploitation for the sake of the profit of individuals, rejection of co-determination, discrimination and detriment to health.

All in all the quality of a workplace is exemplary if it fulfils the needs of all of those working in the company as sustainably and comprehensively as possible as well as doing justice to their individual diversity.

 In this sense, high-quality workplaces create the foundation for allowing employees to develop as individuals and make a contribution to the development of the company deemed valuable by all in a health-preserving, purposeful, competent, self-reliant way which is compatible with the other members of the organization.

 Due to the prevailing substantial discrimination of persons who do not belong to a dominant group in mainstream society, internal affirmative action measures aimed at achieving equal opportunity as well as pro-active promotion of diversity play a particularly important role for high-quality workplaces in the aforementioned sense.

 B) Prompt questions

 Prompt questions for assessment and reflection

 Questions concerning employee-related organizational culture and structures (basic and advanced training, work content, work organization and managerial style, clarity of tasks, diversity of tasks, scope of action and autonomy, appreciation, ways of dealing with mistakes, communication and cooperation)

How are employees trained when changing jobs within the company or starting to work for it?

  • How much say do employees have in regard to their daily tasks? What decision-making power do they have? How high is the degree of self-organization? What are employees allowed to decide for themselves?
  • What does the relationship between employees and their superiors ideally look like in the company?
  • What offers are made to employees in regard to targeted advanced trainings on the one hand and general professional development (for ex. career development programmes, mentoring etc.) on the other?
  • Which basic and advanced training programmes (including apprenticeship training) does the company offer and what distinguishes them?
  • Do employees get the opportunity to discuss their situation in the company, address their possibilities for development, give and receive feedback etc. (for ex. in the form of employee discussions)?
  • How hierarchically structured is the company? What does the managerial structure look like? Which possibilities do employees have to bring up their concerns, wishes and complaints in the company?
  • Are employee surveys conducted? How and by whom are they organized and conducted? What is done with the results and according to which criteria?
  • What procedures are used for dealing with problems which arise? Which confidential contact points exist? Which possibilities for consultancy such as supervision, mediation and coaching exist?
  • What do the internal communication structure and information policy look like?

 

Questions regarding fair payment and employment policies (reliable and fair payment, fair employment policy, perspectives for the future)

Does a transparent, binding pay scheme exist? How is it created? (In what way) are employees involved in laying down the pay scheme?

  • Which guidelines shape the company’s employment policy? What role does internal qualification of employees (apprentices, skilled workers, advancement opportunities) play?
  • Is the company’s personnel planning communicated to the employees? Which measures are planned should the economic situation of the company decline, in particular as regards its employees?
  • Which voluntary benefits does the company offer? Are they provided to all employees in equal measure independent of their type of employment and their tasks in the company?

Questions regarding occupational safety and workplace health promotion including work-life balance/flexible working hours (flexibility in terms of working hours and workplace, occupational safety and health-sensitive workplace conditions, company health promotion)

  • How are working hours organized? Do flexible working hour models exist? Which ones? Who decides when and how much individual employees work? How high is the degree of self-organization? Do options for use of a home office exist?
  • How many days per year can employees take advantage of preventive emotional and physical health care? Which offers do they have to choose from?
  • How safe and ergonomic are workplaces? What measures and procedures are taken to achieve and preserve optimal occupational safety and ergonomic working conditions?
  • Do workplaces have barrier-free accessibility?
  • Do relaxation rooms for employees exist?
  • What measures are taken to promote physical health? Does a programme for company health promotion exist and if so, how comprehensive is it?

Questions regarding affirmative action and diversity (diversity as a multi-relational issue and concrete measures for promotion and protection of equal opportunity)

  • What role does employee diversity play for the company? Are measures taken to promote diversity, in particular in the recruiting area (for ex. anonymized applications)? Are any specific measures taken to support employees with special needs (for ex. “buddy programs,” language development)?
  • What measures are taken in the company to achieve gender equality between men and women? Is there equal pay for equal performance among men and women in all areas of the company and on all hierarchal levels? Do an equal opportunities officer, an equal opportunities report and gender budgeting exist? What is the ratio of men/women in the company as a whole; what is the ratio at the managerial level? What advanced training measures directed towards gender issues exist and what do they encompass?
  • What measures for employing persons with disabilities are planned and implemented? To what extent is the legal quota met?
  • Do anti-discrimination and awareness-raising trainings take place in this area?

Relevant parameters

The following parameters should be interpreted in relation to the desired target state, in terms of an in-company comparison (for ex. according to groups of employees and divisions), in terms of comparative in-company development, [1] in regard to prior years and on the basis of (if possible regional) in-sector comparison:

  • Breakdown of all employees according to employee group, employment relationship (type of work contract) and gender
  • Absenteeism according to employee group and – if applicable – location, in sectoral comparison
  • Fluctuations according to age group, gender and other diversity criteria (if applicable in regard to location as well)
  • Average amount of time spent on training measures per employee per year, according to gender and employee group (rough categorization according to position in company)
  • Average amount of time spent on offers for voluntary, in-company, emotional and physical health prevention per employee per year, according to gender and employee group
  • Re-entry rate (record from 12 months on after date of re-entry)[2] after parental leave
  • Proportion of women of child-bearing age who receive promotions
  • Number of work accidents, long-term illnesses and cases of early retirement due to incapacity according to employee group

Remarks on assessment

In addition to the aforementioned statistical data available in the company, the following sources can be used to assess the quality of workplaces and equal opportunity:

  • Employee surveys if they are organized and conducted in close consultancy with or by employee representatives [3]
  • Reports drawn up by employee representatives and equal opportunity officers
  • Employer agreements

Furthermore, allowing employees and their representatives to make anonymous statements on self-reports of the company would be ideal.

C) Evaluation table

Sub-Indicator

First Steps

(0–10 %)

Advanced       (11– 30 %)

Experienced

(31–60 %)

Exemplary

(61–100 %)

Employee-oriented organizational culture and structures [4]

 

Relevance: moderate

Initial measures; planning of further measures (ideal: incorporation into overall concept) with concrete plan for implementation

Implementation of overall measures; clear measures for adapting structures, processes and mindset of executive personnel

Overall measures are established and are evaluated in terms of implementation and effect; results of evaluation are incorporated and implemented

Overall concept ensured by evaluation is completely implemented and structurally anchored; all executive personnel live an employee-oriented organizational structure

Fair employment and payment policy

 

Relevance:

moderate

Precarious employment circumstances only in cases of demonstrable operational necessity; predictive, transparent personnel planning in consultation with works council

Possibilities for forms of contracts more favourable for employees are examined (internal check routine) and an implemented concept for sustainably positive workplace design for temporary employees exists

 

Overall concept for integration of all groups of employees in the company (for ex. equal entitlement to voluntary company social benefits and assistance, coordination of procedures, dates and deadlines, communication paths)

Sustainable employment offers  / perspectives for all employees, for ex. through cross-company cooperation

 

Affirmative action in regard to possibilities for active participation, entitlement to company social benefits, etc.

Transparent, binding pay scheme which is laid down in the company with the participation of employees (or their representatives)

Pay is perceived as fair by employees and it ensures a good life

Occupational safety and health promotion including work-life balance/flexible working time

 

Relevance: moderate

Development of an overall concept for company health promotion including a plan for implementation, accessibility of flexible working hours and part-time models to promote a healthy work-life balance for employees

 

Ergonomic workplaces, adherence to occupational safety requirements

Implementation of essential aspects (at least 50%) of the overall concept for company health promotion
Employees can take advantage of concrete measures

 

Flexible working hours and part-time models which contribute to  work-life balance available to at least 50% of employees

Company health promotion implemented at least 75 %; introduction of quality assurance measures;
Employees have access to diverse and innovative offers

 

Flexible working hours and part-time models for all employees possible and structurally organized; home office options are supported if possible

Company health promotion is completely anchored and integrated into the company’s structures and  processes;
managerial staff acts as disseminators

 

The various working hour models are structurally integrated and culturally accepted; organization-wide utilization (in hierarchically high positions and among men and women) is supported

Affirmative action and diversity

 

Relevance: moderate

Collection of qualitative and quantitative information in regard to diversity and determination of targets for promoting affirmative action and diversity

 

Employment rate [5]: at least 75% legal fulfilment

 

Active engagement in affirmative action and diversity for all hires

Overall concept for anchoring diversity and affirmative action in the company (incl. concrete implementation plan) exists

 

Legal quota is fulfilled 100%, no equalization payments

 

Adjusted search for personnel and staffing (underrepresented groups are given preference)

Overall concept for anchoring diversity and affirmative action in the company has been implemented in regard to key aspects

Competence and motivation of executive personnel in regard to diversity and affirmative action are promoted forcefully and emphatically.

[6]

 

Number of diverse employees (including specialists and executives) lies above sectoral average

Overall concept is implemented 100%, i.e., structurally anchored in all areas of organization and is backed and lived by all executive personnel

Number of diverse employees (including specialists and executives) is far above sectoral average

 

D) Special aspects regarding the evaluation

The following aspects (in addition to co-determination, which is treated in C5) play a key role for employee-oriented organizational culture and structures:

  • Clarity regarding tasks and responsibilities (and their limits)
  • A culture of appreciation, i.e. processes and structures are shaped by a culture of appreciation which extends beyond remuneration
  • Managerial culture devoted to clarity and open feedback, possibilities for feedback and development meetings on a regular basis
  • Independent counselling offers and go-to persons for dealing with concerns and problems – for ex. supervision, coaching, team development
  • Communication culture: clear communication channels, employee surveys are conducted on a regular basis and results are implemented
    • Exemplary, annual employee surveys which are conducted by external parties and processed via the works council; employee feedback is transformed into concrete measures
    • Comprehensive, high-quality basic and advanced training
      • Exemplary: selection of training measures in consultation; extensive use is made of them in all areas of the organization

 

Essential aspects for successful company health promotion (in addition to participation, which is treated in C5) are as follows [7]:

 

  • Holism: company health promotion encompasses behavioural and behaviour-oriented measures (with the former referring to employees, the latter to working conditions). In addition to reduction of health risks, protective measures and health resources are increased. The focus is placed on physical as well as emotional health.
  • Integration: company health promotion must take all significant decisions in all areas of the company into consideration.
  • Project management: systematic implementation of all measures

 

Restrictions for sole proprietorships

For sole proprietorships the sub-indicator Affirmative Action and Diversity does not apply

Differentiation from other indicators

Indicator C1 treats the issue of affirmative action; as a general matter, it pertains to all entrepreneurial activities.

 

In turn, aspects which are relevant for Indicator C1 are also treated in Indicators C2, C3, C4 and C5:

A topic which is relevant for both Indicators C1 and C2 is working hours, but in C2 the focus lies on fair distribution of existing work, whereas in C1 the focus is on working hours and working hour models which exist for the persons employed by a company.

 

In terms of health-promoting aspects there is some overlapping with Indicator C3, as these sometimes involve measures to raise awareness for the environment and encourage employees to take action accordingly (for ex. by cycling, reducing their work burden, finding more time for recreation, consuming biological goods, etc.).

C4, equitable distribution of income, can also have an indirect impact on the quality of the workplace. A number of investigations have been conducted [8] which show the positive effects of small differences between lower income/assets and higher income/assets. The more equitable the income/assets are, the more positive the effects will be on society. Such findings can indeed be applied to the work world.

Co-determination, as an essential aspect of positive workplace quality, is treated separately in Indicator C5.

E) Definitions + Background

For purposes of greater clarity, affirmative action and diversity wlll be elucidated in a separate section below. In the interests of equal opportunity, all measures aimed towards preserving and increasing the quality of the workplace should be assessed to ascertain whether all employees (actually) do benefit from such measures to the same degree.

Quality of the workplace

High-quality workplaces and concomitant satisfaction with work are not desirable due to their positive effect on performance alone, but also “due to the high correlation to satisfaction with life and emotional and physical health (stress).”[9] In contrast, poor working conditions can lead to reduction of performance, illness and emotional and physical disorders.[10]

To describe quality of the workplace, satisfaction parameters as well as generally valid features of quality are relevant [11]. The former reflect subjective experience, whereas the latter place the structural dimension of work in the foreground. Satisfaction parameters are not very suitable for estimating workplace quality because they lack clarity and reliability. Thus, the evaluation table makes reference to the following concrete partial aspects of workplace quality [12]:

 

1)    Work content, work organization and management style

2)    Basic and advanced training (“availability and learning”)

3)    Sphere of influence: scope of activity, scope for decision-making, scope of control, clarity

4)    Working atmosphere, communication and cooperation

 

These partial aspects (1–4) are brought together under the sub-indicator Employee-oriented organizational culture and structures.

Working atmosphere is an expression of subjective satisfaction and can therefore only be evaluated from the perspective of employees themselves [13]. In this sense, employee-oriented organizational culture is shaped by a general orientation as well as concrete measures for increasing job satisfaction accordingly.

On the one hand, duration and regularity of contact (a high degree of communication and cooperation), task clarity and individual possibilities for development and co-determination have a positive effect on the working atmosphere in a company. A comprehensive concept which treats all these aspects must necessarily contain [14]

  • Measures for shaping work content positively;[15]
  • Measures for social and organizational integration of new employees into work groups and the company as a whole (introduction of new personnel);
  • Measures for promoting personal development which extend beyond classic basic and advanced training, for incorporating elements of employee motivation and management (for ex. coaching, mentoring) as well as additional career planning and development.

Incentive systems sometimes have a negative influence on working atmospheres, however, namely if they are oriented to maximizing individual benefits, thus increasing competition and opportunistic behaviour.[16]

5)   Pay

6)   Organizational framework conditions

7)   Social environment and feedback

 

These partial aspects (5–7) are incorporated into sub-indicator Fair pay and employment policies.

 

The focus of this sub-indicator lies on in-company pay and employment policies. In this area, possibilities for development, fairness and transparency form the pillars of a high-quality working atmosphere.

 

Thus a sustainable employment strategy is characterized by security in the sense of providing long-term perspectives through permanent employment contracts (as opposed to temporary and sub-contracted labour), ideally in connection with possibilities for development and promotion. As regards payment policies, transparent and binding guidelines should exist (equal pay for equal work), and in addition voluntary company social benefits should offer a possibility for improving the quality of the workplace. In this area fairness should also be ensured by granting all employees – irrespective of the degree of employment, the type of work contract, the etc. – entitlement to these benefits in equal measure.

 

8)    Working hours and work breaks

9)    Workplace design

10) Workplace technology, working environment and occupational safety

 

These partial aspects (8–10) are all represented in sub-indicator Occupational safety and health promotion including work-life balance/flexible working hours.

 

In connection with workplace design, all employees should be provided with optimal working conditions by adapting tasks and working conditions to the employees (ergonomy). In addition to taking measures to improve occupational safety (for ex. through trainings), the following should be assessed and optimized as regards their contribution to long-term, comprehensive preservation of employees’ health: work processes, work equipment, workplaces, the immediate and extended working environment and working hours. As regards working hours, adequate models for working time and breaks must be in place and measures should be taken to make working hours flexible [17] as a contribution to healthy and thus health-promoting work-life balance. In general, all topics which concern preservation of employees’ health should be taken into account. The main task of creating healthy working conditions (= condition-related interventions) should be supplemented by improvement of employees’ individual health-related behaviour (= behaviour-related interventions)[18]

 

Affirmative action

To begin with, the fact that all human beings have the right to equal opportunity means that discrimination is forbidden. At the same time, this implies the obligation to eliminate existing disadvantages [19].

Organizations which engage in affirmative action in this sense:

  • identify existing discriminatory circumstances which prevent equal treatment;
  • are aware of their responsibility to ensure  equal opportunity; and
  • purposefully utilize their shaping power to actively promote equal opportunity. This pro-active shaping power used for the sake of diversity calls for the creation of a culture-sensitive working environment which reflects equal appreciation for all employees, enabling all of them to devote themselves to the organization in full measure [20].This entails:

 

  • preventing stereotypes and stigmatization by calling existing privileges and preferential treatment into question rather than setting up new programmes for “minorities” or “disadvantaged persons”;
  • gaining the commitment and devotion of influential protagonists in the organization and ensuring and increasing their affirmative action competence;
  • overcoming a mindset based on the polarity of majorities and minorities and seeing that socio-cultural factors no longer play a role for life, job and career opportunities;
  • achieving equal opportunity regarding access to specialized and managerial positions.[21]

 

To engage in effective affirmative action in the company, these principles and processes must be followed for all entrepreneurial structures and processes, i.e. affirmative action must play a role in shaping all entrepreneurial practices [22]. This holds in particular for measures in the area of human resources (for ex. recruitment, personnel development, regulation of working hours) and organizational structures.

 

Companies which live these goals in all structures, practices and actions make an important contribution to fairness and equal opportunity, not only on the job market but in other realms as well [23].

 

F) Implementation

By conducting employee surveys, essential evidence can be gained for the identification of fields of action, in particular if such surveys are conducted by an external agency and assessed by the works council.

For affirmative action within the company, it is particularly important to evaluate data precisely (for ex. fluctuation, absenteeism, long-term illnesses, pay) according to various criteria (for ex. gender, type of employment, work area in the company). Such evaluations provide an important foundation for identifying any existing privileges, preferential treatment or discrimination within the company.

Consistent, good and open cooperation with various employee representatives (for ex. works council members, equality officers, team leaders, confidential counsellors) is extremely helpful for promoting workplace quality and affirmative action.

Results should be documented in a transparent and binding fashion and communicated to the employees – for example in the form of an employer agreement.

G) Bibliography/Links/Experts

General

 

Occupational safety

 

Working hours

 

Family and career

 

Work-life balance

 

Meaningfulness/organizational culture/employee surveys

 

Health management

 

Diversity – affirmative action and interaction with disadvantaged persons

 

Editor: Gabriela Edlinger gabriela@abcd.co.at on the basis of preliminary work done by Christian Rüther and Christine Amon


[1] The parameters listed above can be used to assess the effectiveness of interventions.

[2] Actual re-entry means that the legally prescribed retention period after a leave has been exceeded considerably and reconciliation of career and family has proven possible to such a degree that the workplace must not be renounced within a year of re-entry.

[3] The two golden rules for employee surveys are formulated by Erich Laminger (Managing Partner Great Place to Work): a) commission a third party to conduct the survey and b) discuss results internally. (http://derstandard.at/1358303910774/Mitarbeiterbefragung-Nur-gut-von-extern)

[4] Concrete in regard to clarity concerning tasks and responsibilities (and their limits), culture of appreciation, management culture, constructive ways of dealing with problems, communication culture incl. employee surveys and basic and advanced training.

[5] In Austria and Germany, minimum quota for employment of persons with disabilities exist. If these are undercut, only quite negligible countervailing charges must be paid, however, which encourages non-compliance. For this reason, we assess quotas which lie below legal limits as soon as they become evident.

[6] For ex. in the form of comprehensive advanced training measures (diversity trainings, affirmative action workshops, gender trainings) which aim to sensitize people to diversity and expand affirmative action competencies.

[7] See ENWHP (ed.) (2007): The Luxembourg Declaration on Workplace Health Promotion in the European Union. ENWHP. Available at: http://www.netzwerkbgf.at/mediaDB/677704_Luxemburger%20Deklaration%20Fassung%202007%20deutsch.pdf

[8] Cf. Pickett, Kate/Wilkinson, Richard: The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, 2009 + websites on this topic: http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/ + http://inequalitywatch.eu/?lang=en

[9] Thommen, Jean-Paul (2004): Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaft. Managementkompetenz von A bis Z. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Zürich: Versus Verlag AG, pg. 47

[10] Ebd., pg. 40

[11] Cf. Schreyögg, Georg (2006): Arbeitsqualität. In: Handelsblatt (ed.): Wirtschaftslexikon. Das Wissen der Betriebswirtschaftslehre. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag, 2006, pp.420f.

[12] All dimensions of workplace quality listed above are part of the elucidations on workplace quality and corresponding key words (for ex. working conditions) to be found in the Handelsblatt Wirtschaftslexikon des Schäffer-Poeschel Verlages (2006) and in the Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaft des Versus Verlages (2004).

[13] Thommen, Jean-Paul (2004): Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaft. Managementkompetenz von A bis Z. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Zürich: Versus Verlag AG, pg. 94

[14] Ebd., pp. 94 and 484

[15] For ex. in regard to the dimensions sphere of influence (scope of action and scope for decision-making and control), variety of tasks, holistic nature of tasks, significance of tasks, autonomy, feedback, avoidance of mental underload and overload. (according to Hackman, J. & Oldham, G. (1980): Work redesign. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley)

[16] Wolff, Brigitta & Lucas, Sven (2006): Incentive systems. In: Handelsblatt (ed.): Wirtschaftslexikon. Das Wissen der Betriebswirtschaftslehre. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag, pp. 242ff.

[17] “Flexibilization of working hours means differentiated regulation of working hours which […] aims at optimizing the total individual, entrepreneurial and societal utility of work. In this way, rigid and uniform regulation of working hours is prevented and the needs of the employees can be taken into account.” (Thommen, Jean-Paul (2004): Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaft. Managementkompetenz von A bis Z. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Zürich: Versus Verlag AG, pg. 46) These include flextime, gradual and flexible retirement, limited leaves of absence (sabbaticals), part-time work, job sharing, bandwidth models and part time à la carte work.

[18] Kohlbacher, M. & Meggeneder, O. (2006): Zehn Jahre Betriebliche Gesundheitsförderung in Österreich. In: Meggeneder & Hirtenlehner (ed.): Zehn Jahre Betriebliche Gesundheitsförderung in Österreich. Forschungsstand – Strukturen – Entwicklungen. Frankfurt am Main: Mabuse-Verlag. pp. 17–36.

[19] Thus Article 3 of German Basic Law, for example, acknowledges the right to equality for all human beings and in doing so explicitly obligates the German state to promote the elimination of existing disadvantages {Art.3 (2)}.

[20] Cf. Danowitz, Mary Ann; Hanappi-Egger, Edeltraud & Mensi-Klarbach, Heike (2012): Diversity in Organizations: Concepts and Practices. Palgrave Macmillan. pg. 26.

[21] Supplementary to Danowitz cf. Mary Ann et al. (2012): Krell, Gertraude (2011): Grundlegend: Ecksteine, Gleichstellungscontrolling, Verständnis und Verhältnis von Gender und Diversity. In: Krell, Gertraude et al. (ed.): Chancengleichheit durch Personalpolitik. Gleichstellung von Frauen und Männern. Wiesbaden: Gabler. pp. 1–24.

[22] Thommen, Jean-Paul (2004): Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaft. Managementkompetenz von A bis Z. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Zürich: Versus Verlag AG, pp. 234f.

[23] In addition to business goals, macroeconomic goals lie at the core of entrepreneurial actions. The latter “stand in the service of general societal goals” for which “respectful interaction with other human beings, forms of life and cultures […] is a basic maxim.” (Cf. Thommen, Jean-Paul (2004): Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaft. Managementkompetenz von A bis Z. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Zurich: Versus Verlag AG, pp. 235 and 692)

 

Description of negative criteria for violation of ILO labour rights standards/human rights (N1)

Human rights and the core labour standards of the ILO (International Labour Organization) form essential societal pillars of global communal life. To date there are still many nations which have failed to ratify them or implement them in daily life.

Thus in states which have failed to ratify the core labour standards so far (for ex. China, USA), companies must take a pro-active approach within the framework of local options to ensure compliance with them. Possible effects which products and services of businesses have on human rights must be taken into account.

In any case one must assess whether the principle of “equal pay for equal work” and anti-discrimination standards are adhered to. Proof of discrimination on the basis of ethnical origin, skin colour, gender, religious creed, political opinions, national origin, social origin or “any other differentiation, exclusion or preference” (ILO Convention 111, Article 1, Para. 1b) constitutes a severe negative criterion.

To find out more about core labour standards go to: http://www.ilo.org/public/german/region/eurpro/bonn/kernarbeitsnormen/index.htm

Description of negative criterion for misconduct by companies in regard to labour laws (N10)

The rights and duties of employers vis-à-vis their employees are comprehensively regulated, but records of the Austrian representation of employees (Arbeiterkammer) show that these regulations are often ignored, to the detriment of employees.

Through application of this negative criterion, violations of labour laws, in particular of the German Workers Protection Act (ASchuG) by companies have a negative effect on a company’s Common Good   Balance Sheet. The Common Good Balance Sheet does not aim to replace respective legislature, however, but rather to supplement and support it.

In this sense, misconduct by companies in regard to labour laws can be substantiated by:

  • legally valid conviction of a company due to violation of labour laws.
  • (repeated) complaints of employees filed in labour courts which are settled out of court.
  • several documented cases of complaints regarding labour laws even if it was possible to settle them out of court.

 

In Austria, official employee representation (Arbeitskammer) is an important source of information for the assessment of this negative criterion. They keep accurate records of all relevant violations of labour laws (see, for ex., an overview of the “Arbeitskammer” of Upper Austria from the year 2011: http://www.arbeiterkammer.com/bilder/d136/Schwarzbuch_20111.pdf).