The international labour organization
Law can be used to describe a body of rules of conduct inherent in human nature and is essential to or building upon human society. (Oxford Dictionary). The rules and principles governing the affairs of a community are enforced by a political authority or a legal system. Every civilised society has laws that dictate a society’s ability to function. Business law relates to these ‘Laws’ involving the business and commercial components of society and allows business to function. (Malllor et.al 2004)
Business law deals with issues of public as well as private law. It regulates agreement between portion parties hiring practice and the manufacture & sales of consumer goods .In criminal matters the states prosecutes the defendant before a magistrate, or a judge in court. In criminal liability the basic assumption is that there is both a mental element and a physical element to the offence. The burden of proof for criminal offences is beyond reasonable doubt. The penalties for criminal offences are fines and imprisonment as well as other non-custodial punishments.
In civil liability it gives the person rights to obtain redress from another person e.g. the ability to sue for damages for personal injury. The actual person should have suffered the actual injury. The actual person should have suffered the actual injury or loss. The probability burden of proof is “the balance of probability’ which is much lower than for criminal matters. If there has been a relevant criminal conviction in a particular matters than the burden of proof in any related civil action is revered so the dependent has to prove he is not liable e.g. conviction of a company for preach of health and safety registration followed by the injured employee suing the company for damages for personal injury. In this case the loosing party will pay the winners costs.
Liability on the other hand in good terms refers to the state of being loyalty obliged and accountable. Its broadest legal sense it may refer to the, obligation by which a person may be under by reason of law. It also refers to the obligation of a person or institution to provide damage compensation for damage it is deemed to be responsible. Historically liability has been defined using the common laws and statutory laws. This is in contrast to Responsibility, accountability and blame. Blame refers to holding one responsible for or accountable for to find faults with a person.
The faults may be real imagined or merely invented for pejorative purpose organization can apply censure and demotion to managers and leaders who do not take full responsibility of their actions and blame them for misconduct. Responsibility and accountability on the other hand are two word used interchangeably thought they might not mean the same (Zdanis, 2007). Responsibility can be shared while accountability cannot be shared. Responsibility is a course of action that is demanded of one, as by position, custom, law or religion. Accountability means that you can account or be liable, or the obligation to bear consequences for failure to perform as expected or agreed.
Ethics on the other hand refers the science of human duty; a particular system of principles and rules concerning duty. In the modern world it can be used to define how individuals, business professional and corporation choose to interact with one another. Making ethical decisions in business is often difficult because business ethics is not simply an extension of an individual personal ethics or society standards of right and wrong. In the work place being good many not necessarily be enough to handle tough choices that frequently arise in workplace. Companies may find themselves in trouble in when violating issues relating to welfare of employees.
In this discussion we will try to hub our discussion on the legal atmospheres that exists in the operation of businesses. Emphasis will be placed on the ethical and moral principles as they apply to legal and business. Commonly (both as business and individual).Child labour will also be reviewed as an unethical practice in the business fraternity
LAW AND ETHICS IN INDUSTRIES
Business executives are faced with two types of ethical issues when conducting their daily chores. These issues in management include conflicts of interest, employee’s rights, fair performance appraisals, sexual harassment, proprietary information and discrimination. Other issues include the corporate social responsibility product liability, layoffs, environmental ethics, and employee rights to privacy in the workplace, comparable worth and corporate responsibility. (Stephen 2004)
The issue of legistrating ethical conducts in the corporate and government level can be traced in from the ancient history. Example is the Hummurabi code (Tamara 2005), which made corruption and bribery a crime in Babylon during the reign of Hummurabi. Societies all over the world shares ethical codes such as those forbidden body injury and murder or attacks to personal reputation. The systems of law and justice in modern societies are closely related to ethics in that they determine and enforce definition rights and duties. They also attempt to repress and punish deviation for those standards.
Laws can either be neutral on ethical issues or they can be used to endorse. Ethic laws also permit many actions that will not bear ethical scrutiny. The law might permit what is necessarily ethically right. An example is the infringement of agreement that do not have a legal backing.
In a Business environment the code of ethics provides members with standard of behaviour and principles to be observed regarding what they term to be their moral and professional obligations. The professionals in a particular profession develop ethics that govern them. (Samet 1996)The primary function of a code of ethics is to provide guidance to employers and employees especially in ambiguous ethical situations.
Decisions in such situations can be made more easily if the code is specific and gives direction on what action need to be taken and penalties spelled out in the business sector many ethical conflicts may develop from conflicts between the differing interest of company owners and their workers. Companies have to balance the ideal against the practical i.e. the need to maximize companies’ profit. An example is the employment of children who are underpaid and mistreated. (pp 2-20)
Over the years criminal law has been used to control corporate behaviour. The nature of crime in this case is that committed against individuals. Crimes being public are prohibited by authorities’ etc. Persons who commit crimes bear the whole stigma of convictions. The purpose of criminal sanctions is to prevent socially undesirable behaviours or to prevent further commitment of such acts through deterrent incapacitation. (Mallor et al 2001).
Corporate criminal liability evolved because under common law, a corporation was not liable for the criminal acts of its employees. At present cooperation may now face criminal liability for almost any offence.
CHILD LABOR IN INDUSTRIES
The use of children in industries has been in existence since the early day of industrial revolution both in USA and UK. In Britain child labour became a major issue in the 19th century and eventually registration was passed that brought it to an end (Lavallette 1999). Child labour is almost invisible to most people but child workers are everywhere in the world. They are sod or exchanged as cheap merchandise. Many children cannot escape provided labour or prostitution and they barely survive from all this.
The long hours of work, the heavy burdens the dangerous tools and poisonous chemical adds to their miseries. In industries they pose the risk of intoxication from chemicals such as lead viscose nylon and nitrous fumes which course serious effects including mental illness, loss of vision, paralysis and sometimes death. The children loose their childhood in promise of a better future and this is because they waste their time which they should be spending at school (Samet 1996)
It is totally unacceptable to use children over the workplace. Corporate code of conduct and other business guidelines prohibiting the use of child behaviours are becoming more and more common as consumers as well as religious labour and human rights groups are increasingly calling on companies to take responsibility for the conditions under which the goods they sell are being manufactured (Samet 1996 P.2). The code of conduct in this context refers to the various types of corporate documents establishing policies and standards on child labour and other working conditions. (P.3)
The international labour organization (ILO) described child labour as any economic activity. The concern here is not about to all work but employment that prevents effective school attendance and which is often performed under conditions hazardous to the physical and mental health of the child. The minimum age of employment according to article, should not be less than the compulsory schooling and in any case not less than 15 years. The ILO estimates that there are at least 73 million economically active children of between ages 10-14 working in many industries all over the world. The figure could however be higher in today’s world. (Samet 1996)
The report also found that with the exception of Brazil where children regularly worked in large scale formal factories, children were more likely to be employed in small shops or homework conditions. In industries children are given tasks such as sewing buttons, calling and trimming threads, folding, moving or packing garments. In most case children worked long hours-sometimes six to seven days a week ((Samet 1996 p.4)
Industries that employ child labour fail their business ethics policies. According to (Marcular centre for applied ethics n.d) the company will have failed in governance, creating an ethical culture, leadership, cooperate social responsibility, good workplace practices, corporate governance and professional ethics. Under normal circumstances the company or industry purpose is to maximise their profits by overworking children and at the same time underpaying them. In another perspective the self interest would still require a business to obey the law and adhere to the moral rules because the consequence of failing to do so could be very costly in fines or loss of companies’ reputation.
The Fair Labour standards passed by United States congress on 25th June 1938 prohibited child labour in all industries engaged in production of good for commerce. The act sets the minimum of 14 for employment outside the school hours in non-manufacturing jobs, at 16 for employment during school hours, and 18 for hazardous occupations. The act main objective was to eliminate labour condition detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standards of living necessary for health, efficiency and well being of workers.
Child labour does not contribute in any form to the development of worker at the workplace. The mutual relationship between the young workers and the mutual workers can affect the productivity at the factory. Children are always despised and bullied by older workers. The atmosphere created through this relationship does not yield a good working environment. (Child labour in the carpet industry article n.d)
Enforcement of authorities to wipe out this vice has yielded positively results. Consumers have boycotted products from industries known to be engaged in child labour.
This is evident and practiced in many states of USA and the United Kingdom. These same countries have embarked on enforcement strategies meant to avert this practice. A system of imposing monetary fines or penalties, probation status, demanding for corrective action, providing education (where child labour are involved), cancellation of contracts and severance of relationships has been some of the strategies employed.
The subject on business law and ethics cannot be conclusive as it touches many sectors of operations in a business environment. Businesses can be called upon to justify their industrial action. The criteria against which they can be held accountable are those that are embodied in the normative standard of their particular operations. These standards are expressed in ethics guidelines of codes of conduct for each speciality is in the industry. They also may be embodied in law. In cases of child labour unethical act every effort must be made to undo the vice, without denying involvement. Authorities on the other hand should carry assessment techniques to certain that business conducts are followed.
Statutory rules meant to protect a business organization are intended to protect creditors or investors. The business law governing employee rights and labour laws helps guides the workplace in various sector of the economy in a business environment the management should consider the criminal liability of committing certain laws that contravenes the operations of a business.
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