Human Rights at Work

As a business owner, you set a precedent to how your employees will be treated. Human rights at work is a topic that businesses take for granted. This is because the first point of issue is ensuring that your business does not violate provincial and federal labour rules.

However, you do want to ensure that human rights standards are kept in your organisation.


You need to have 5 things in place to prevent discrimination.

  1. Have a complaint mechanism in place
  2. Create awareness of what is considered discrimination
  3. Take the matter seriously through internal mechanisms
  4. Take real action
  5. Provide a discrimination free working environment

Discrimination can happen in the form of ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, and it is vital that your organisation has mechanisms to tackle it. While you may state that it will not happen in your organisation, you must also realise that you cannot control the action of all your employees and hence, discrimination can always occur.

Especially, do not put the one-off incidents under the rug. An employee complaint to the government authorities can bring the brunt of the legal and investigative forces down on your organisation.

Code of Conduct

As an organisation, you can decide to set up a code of conduct, which includes behaviour and a dress code. The code of conduct should not violate the basic human right rules. For example, your code of conduct cannot state that employees on wages will not be paid overtime as this violates human rights.

Dress codes can be critical because employees are required to dress according to the need of the organisation and the workplace environment. Dress codes should not discriminate against gender or degrade the dignity of the person.

Work Hours, Breaks and Vacations

Your organisation should be accommodating and flexible to employees for work hours, breaks and vacation issues.

  • Shifts should ensure that employees have sufficient time to relax and sleep
  • Accommodations should be made to meet religious observance
  • Vacation or time-off should not affect entitlement or promotions.


You cannot discriminate against individuals having disabilities. Understandably, working with disabled individuals is tricky. You could separate essential and nonessential duties. If the essential duties cannot be performed, even with special resources, then you may not employ the disabled individual.

Undue Hardship

Your employees may be afflicted with undue hardship. This comes in the form of a:

  • Pregnant employee
  • Senior employee
  • Employee with caregiver responsibility

Your organisation should support, assist and be flexible to employees with undue hardship. It will require making changes at the workplace.

Disciplinary Processes

Organisations have disciplinary processes in place when the code of conduct is violated. Your disciplinary process cannot violate the dignity of the person or create a work environment that is hostile to the employee.

The organisation should have clearly defined disciplinary processes ranging from verbal warnings to written warnings to termination.

Are you violating the human rights of your employees? Human rights is a massive subject that covers a wide variety of areas. Get all the information on human rights at work so that you are always on the right side of the law.