The purpose of this paper is to analyze the ethical implications of the relationship of employee and employer in the areas of employee drug testing, restricting internet use at the workplace, and spying on internet activity.
This paper also concentrates on employers’ behavior as they emails of employees, and monitoring the whereabouts of employees by fitting location microchips on company vehicles they might drive. However, this report focuses on the perspective of the UAE and other Middle East countries to discuss the relationship between employers and employees, workplace environment, and ethical issues related with monitoring process and privacy of the employees.
Background to UAE Ethical Implications
Stier (2007 p. 1) pointed out that the ethical business standards of United Arab Emirates are in the most alarming stage identifying its position at the bottom line for which the liability goes to the regulators and legislation including its business communities.
It has also mentioned that the corporations working in the business environment of UAE are mostly aligned with corruption irregularities and non-compliance with the existing code of conduct. Moreover the rule that govern the existing employer and employees relation has amalgamated with the religious values that suppressed to standardize the practice as per criteria of western developed countries.
In the business operation of this region has been associated with very higher extend of bribing, red tap of bureaucracy and this is the picture of almost all Middle East countries. Moreover lack of democratic practice, US obedient monarchy has mostly criminalized the over all employer and employees relationship both in public and private sector of this area.
Investigation with several ministry and public works department of UAE has evidenced such horrible though the government of UAE has set up its vision to establish the country as a world class business center of this era complying with global standards and ethic. Rather than the oil sector, government has emphasized on non-oil sectors like finance, tourism, and real estate at the top of its priority to achieve its ambitions objectives.
Due to open global integration, large expatriate hub, and most promising reformation of public policies has flourished the opportunity to take advantage of globalization.
Islamic Ethical Model of UAE
Ali (2010) mentioned that changing economic reality of Middle East countries due to oil exploration has turn out to be a prevailing factor to reconfiguration of Human Resource management policies and practices where the insufficiency of competent HR including the environment of market constitution is a most influential dilemma of economic growth.
Consequently, UAE including other Middle East countries have aligned to hire their HR from south Asian Countries like Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Corporations are more than ever pressure to engage skilled employees to gain competitive advantage over their competitors while the question of organizational endurance and continuous growth of revenue are closely allied with effectual HR management.
The concurrent economic reality of UAE has driven the business community to develop well structured HR policies and strategic attitude complying with organizational objectives to face the challenge of globalization both in home and abroad.
The quick changing global trend of capitalism has shifted the western developed countries to maintain an ethical standard of HRM and following instance of development, the less developed countries are inspired integrate those models of capitalist structure that has placed new challenge to traditional business operation concepts in UAE and the other Middle East Countries. These Islamic countries kept their continuous effort to prove their supremacy of religious values arguing with the Islamic model of human resource and ethical practice.
The Islamic model of HR and ethical practice has deliberated to deal with HRM factors in accordance with Islamic values and prescriptions that has guided by the holy Quran along with the verses of Mohamed, the founder of Islam including the Islamic philosophers of old age.
The practice of HR and ethical standards of this era has been introduced by the theoreticians of other religions like Christianity and Judaism, arguing such lame excuses, the Islamic theoreticians would like to encounter with modern theories with old and radical perceptions. Without considering the knowledge as a power with out border and race, they engaged their efforts not integrate Islamic norms and values within the applicable theories of modern business.
Chapra (1983) investigated the business prescriptions of Islamic values and urged to rethink the existing sensitivity of human resources and offered impending requirement for conservation workplace ethic and dignity devoid of negotiating with the business community’s demand in terms of Islamic direction. Islamic judgment and philosophy of work has presented an obvious and transparent views keeping emphasis on labor that is viewed as an essential wealth of accomplishing balance of life.
This philosophy considers work as a compulsory action as well as a good feature in illumination of involving human to balance among the society and him to gain eternal and spiritual emancipation. It has guided that the people would work honestly complying with the Islamic law and god would all the time observe him whether he did any unethical task or not and in this way he will gain honest earning to lead his livelihood.
Islam has given the work a leveling with religious virtues, it has made the worker obedient to it employer where there is no provision of negotiation, unionism or democratic practice to gaining workers rights. Thus it motivates workers to be happy with the salaries without raising any question to his employer, which may consider most contributing economic actions for the employer and the society.
Undeniably the Islamic model of human resource and ethical practice has also aligned with spiritual and realistic features of workers that are based up on an idealistic groundwork named as “Ehsan” which pointed towards an extensive impression of combined and relational amalgamation of kindness, forgiveness, justice, amnesty, open-mindedness, impartiality and special treatment.
Thus such idealism without having modern ethical standards could mitigate short run labor conflict but in long run it can spoil the existing social system and may urge for global standard code of conduct rather than the old.
Employee Drug Testing
The employers have some legal rights to test for drugs in employees though they have to maintain some formal process, for instance, they cannot carry on such test without permission of the employees and they must be aware the consent issues.
In this context, the employers would not be liable if they include the provision of drug testing in the terms and conditions of employment contract or in the company handbook, though they have to ensure that the process of testing would not create any unusual condition of health issue that means the process have to be safe for employees.
However, the employers have limited scope to perform such test frequently while the employees joined in the organization after passing such test and it is a sensitive issue for the staff of the organisation, so this test has to be genuine and not hazardous or discriminatory for them.
In this context, there should have written policy to inform that the entire process would carry on by considering privacy issues, occupational health and safety issues and some other related factors. On the other hand, the employees have enough opportunity to refuge the drug testing when the process would not consider but the employers can take action for this refusal when they would maintain above-mentioned criteria like previous contact, health and safety issues, and no discrimination.
Here, it is important to mention that different organizations take different approach to test drug, so most of the researcher argued that drug testing should not carry out in the workplace while it can adversely affect the health of others, or the employees can lose their confidence on the policy though it has enough significance to control the company.
However, there are mainly two form of testing such as pre-employment and post-hiring testing while the former one deals with for those who are selected in the interview and move on to the next stair in becoming an employee of that firm; in such case employer may recommend a specific center for testing. However, the selected person might not be recruited if he refuge to test from the particular area or health care center.
Most of the cases, the problem arise at the time of post-hiring drug testing while employers tests staff for drugs in terns of routine check or random testing; this test also carry on if the employers have any doubt by observing the performance of the staff create such confusion; so, they can fire the employees in this stage for refusal.
However, Andre & Velasquez (2011) many employees may refuge to test for privacy reasons, for instance, some time the supervisor terminates the computer and come to the employees with a small bottle to give urine small and the employees may refuse as they had no idea about the significance or they have some other personal problems.
On the other hand, some employees have to take inhaler or some other drugs according the prescription of the doctor but the employees fail to explain the valid reason of the testy result as every thing happen suddenly, which must create ethical dilemmas.
However, the employers of Dubai show zero tolerance to the drug users due to Islamic prohibition on the use of drugs and the workplace environment can be polluted for the addicted staff as their behavior has changed accordingly. On the other hand, the UAE labor law 2010 strictly prohibited the use of drugs in workplace and Article No.120 stated that employer of the United Arab Emirates can terminate an employee according to this law if the employee is found in a state of “drunkenness or under the influence of a drug during working hours”.
However, migrant employees have to face this check in the airport as well as in the workplace and the employer would fire or terminate the job contract if the migrant staff fail in drug test or refuge them to check.
Though there are some controversy related with drug testing but it should carry on because employers have some duty to ensure healthy working atmosphere with the help of supervisors of the organization.
In this debate, the supporter of the drug-addicted employees would like to say that more than 44% of total employees are regularly take drugs; so employee turnover rate would be increase for random testing, which must effect on the companies profit as it should require huge fund to recruit and train new employees (Andre & Velasquez, 2011).
At the same time, the supporter of the employers argued that the corruption in corporate level would high and the social balance would destroy if the employees take prohibited drugs and employers take no action against their behavior.
Therefore, the employers get some advantages if any legal issues arise because employers have huge opportunity to exclude liability in the issues of privacy and they argue that employees have no option to take unfair advantages while Islamic and government regulation concentrates on the health and safety issues if all employees of the industry.
The employers also stated that other normal employees would be inspired to take harmful products and arrange events outside the organization if they take no action against the drug users, which may increase the risk of criminal activities, property damage, and corporate crime and so on.
The employers of the Middle East countries are too strict to the drug addicted, as a result, the rules and regulation of this zone is almost similar and strict; most of the time goes favor to the employers in case of prohibited drugs.
For instance, according to the article 84 of Federal Law No 8, for 1980 clearly specified that the workers get no remuneration for sick leave if the sickness is the direct consequence of personnel’s misconduct like consumption of alcohol or sedative drugs; this provision seems unethical to some researchers but it is a real threat for the consumers and suppliers.
However, Gulf Talent (2007, p.21) stated that Federal Law No 8 not only concentrated on the employees who take drugs but also focused on the suppliers of this prohibited goods in the Article no 99 by stating that it would be unlawful for the employers, delegates or any other person to permit prohibited goods like wine in the workplace.
On the other hand, Ministral order no 28/1 of 1981 provided a guide for employees in making disciplinary code and it included several provisions and stated that drug misuse increases the chances of accidents at work and reduces the productivity; so it must affect they profitability of the industry and employers can impose capital punishment for breach of code.
Though, Article 153 included a defense for the drug users; therefore, the employees would get a single chance to prove his position in case of sickness or misconduct by showing medical reports or prescriptions; in addition, it gave guidelines who aiding, abetting, and inspiring the users.
Al-Kabbi (2001, p.26) researched on the workplace safety issues in the construction industry where he provided data to show the cause of death and injury of the employees, but it is notable that more than 340 employees of construction industry of UAE had died for the car accidents in 2000 and most of the case it happened for drunkenness.
The rule of Saudi Arabia is stricter than the UAE as there are too many evidence where long sentences for drug related offence; for instance, the expatriates and local employees may convicted for position and consumption of drugs in workplace and death penalty may impose for drug trafficking though there is no specific rule for employees drug testing.
At the same time, Shete (2010, p.4) reported that alcohol, drugs and prohibited substances are illegal in accordance with the rules and regulation of Kuwait and consuming and trafficking such goods is the subject of criminal jurisdiction, so the employers of this country may bring charge under criminal law if the employees violate these rules.
Spying on Internet Activity: E-Mail and Computer Monitoring
Most employees anticipate certain amount of monitoring at workplace by employers as this is important for them to accomplish their responsibilities with regard to health and safety issues; however, where monitoring embroils taking data or images with the help of e-mailing or CCTVs, the rising privacy concerns starts to compile giving birth to the question of ethical practices at workplace.
The employers possess a right to monitor the worker’s use of e-mails, the company’s PCs, and predominantly the use of Internet whilst he is at job in order to protect their assets, increase employee-productivity, and ensure that workers do not engage in harassing, unpleasant, or aggressive behaviors; but this should be carried out carefully to avoid infringing employees’ privacy rights.
To ensure ethical practices and good relationship between an employee and employer, the amount of monitoring should be clear from the part of the employer in the contract or company-handbook; in addition, a staff under surveillance should be aware about the matter with clear indication about the workplace practices and ethical standard of behavior (International Law Office, 2002).
In order to come up with a healthy affiliation at workplace it is important to prohibit any attempt to appropriate the employer’s trade-secrets or copyrighted-information, or to disable or compromise the security of information contained in computers; conversely, the employer should make clear that passwords has deliberated merely to prevent outsiders from obtaining access to information on the employer’s system.
In Saudi Arabia, E-technology is a budding concept in the business environment; nevertheless, the Saudis do appreciate that whilst email and the Internet can unquestionably make the workplace proficient, worker could mistreat and generate lawful-liabilities for employers to the revaluate their private information connected to the bureaucracies – however, in many cases; employees remain under threat about violation of their privacies.
Presently, UAE law does not address such issues with strict lawful barriers – while the UAE Labor Law does not offer workers’ right to privacy with regard to emailing-activities, it also does not set restrictions on supervising worker’s use of e-technology; however, the lack of specific laws or regulations on the issue means that the UAE will apply Article 31.
Article 31 of the country’s Constitution states that “independence of communication by post, wire or other modes of contacts, and the confidentiality thereof, will be assured in accord to the law”; however, in the absence of any court rulings on the issue, it is almost unfeasible to evaluate the strength of this argument.
Restricting internet use at the workplace
As there is no strict rule in the Middle East countries to control internet use by the employees in workplace, these countries should consider the perspective of developed countries to find our the valid reason of restriction of internet use in the workplace, opinion of the employees, and what is the outcomes of such restriction.
According to the survey report of Woods (2011), more than 74% of total employers limit internet access for the personnel somehow, about 72% employers use software to defend pornographic websites, at least 48.0% of employers disabled social networking sites, and 30.0% employers blocked the YouTube option, 27.1% blocked news channel and very few of them allowed search engines like yahoo.
However, Woods (2011) further addressed that the employers have to take such decision in order to increase productivity as the employees waste their valuable time in visiting pornographic sites or involves in chatting in facebook while companies have to pay hourly basis, which also increase the production costs of the company.
On the other hand, Woods pointed out the views of employees as they had different view in this issue, for instance, around 30% of total employees stated that it creates difficult situation for them, a significant parts more than 80% of employees they feel no interest to working in office, and only 6% of employees supported the decision of employers.
Most of the employers believed that restriction would not create any moral dilemma while the employees misuse the innovation of technology and employers take actions to boost the output level, but Sussman (2011) criticized this traditional view and raised the question that whether the firms should restrict internet use in workplace or not.
In many cases, the employers of UAE restricted the internet accession considering the production level of the company but the employees of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are too smart, as they are interested to purchase software like VPN, Skype and so on in order to unblock the protected sites.
However, Noueihed (2008) pointed out that the famous UAE telecommunication network Etisalat had blocked pornographic, gambling, social networking sites and other accession in sensitive sites by stating technology helps us to communicate promptly and gives numerous advantages, but misuse of internet may adversely affect moral, social, political, Muslim faith, and cultural values of this country.
Here, it is important to mention that the government of this country upholds Muslim tradition; therefore, the people has to follow many rules and regulation, such as, a person would be liable for gambling and sex outside of marriage, so the restriction of internet use would not affect the moral dilemma in this country and both parties would appreciate it.
However, Noueihed (2008) would like to say that the employers should allow social networking sites in order to inspire the employees because the flow of technology has already touched this country though the government and policy makers always tried to filter the websites and restrict the press.
The employees are not aware about their rights of accession, and they have to suffer other sever problems, so, there are many provisions in the Labor Laws in the UAE, but lack of awareness due to poor educational attributes they have not yet been enjoyed the rights of their workplace legislation.
Monitoring Employees Company Vehicles with Microchips
Brandon (2003) mentioned that the UAE has introduced GPS microchips firstly for scheduling and loading containers at its both sea and airports for global service and it become capable offer commercial use of GPS to the companies to endow with solutions to human resource management, ecological management, transportation expansion and the country placed it self at the leadership position for such microchips in 2000.
You ACC Docket (2009) presented the logic that when an employer sent his employee to the port, but the he has gone to his own residence and staying at home he is explaining the lame excuses for his delaying. How the employer overcomes such stupid practice of his employees or if the employee occurs any massive accident for his own purpose, he may impose burden on the employer.
To overcome such dilemmas some employer are eager to have an innovative solution to prevent employee’s fraudulent action by tracking his actual location. The necessity of tracing employees has become significant in for this era due to the raising needs of the corporations, though the employees and their unions identify it an unethical drive.
Most of the UAE employers are eager to determine their employees whether they are acting with perfection or not to ensure right use of resources for them. They argue that tracking is further significant while the employee is on the company vehicle or going for sales drive to keep close attention on employers, but the dilemma rises as the employees never willing to be monitored and violation of privacy rights.
Most of the UAE employers strongly argue that the awareness of business interest is at the top rather than any personal liking or disliking and for effectual operation of the business all employees must be guarded accordingly with out any favor or disfavor.
Brandon (2003) added that it has evidenced there are huge companies offering GPS microchips to monitoring the employees while all of them are technologically sound to instigate Global Position Systems for their clients which may fitted in the company vehicle, ID card or any here else.
On the other hand, a number of employers are using Radio Frequency Identification microchips to monitoring their employees for investigation and compliance with the work standard. By using such microchip set the UAE employees already evidenced that some of the outdoor workforce are performing second job or alternative business activity and even going to cinema or sleeping at home which are unethical manner for a competent employee.
Pagnattaro (2008) pointed out that the employers are violating employees privacy by using tiny microchips in the vehicle, on in ID card, or wrist watch wile the microchips are capable to generate radio waves for warless applied to track employees.
In door of the vehicle this microchips are placed, in the crowded workplace or company cafeteria microchips are surrounded staff ID to controlled right of entry to the employer’s premises without his concern and generate notorious data to maintain to regulation employees by breaking principles of privacy, some survey evidenced that none of the employees appreciate this nonsense.
The study of ethical practice at workplace has guided opportunity to grant employees privacy, meanwhile European Union has restricted to use this type of microchips data transmission limit for not to braking the privacy of employees and to ensure standard of workplace environment.
Pagnattaro (2008) further argued that UAE also faced to enhance its workplaces standard by ensuring the monitoring limit to a tolerance level for instance just to ensure attendance, identification without any unauthorized data capture about the employee’s violation his/ her privacy. Even they suggest for not to preserve any server for long time, which may hinder anyone’s personal life or carrier, such view are almost EU standard implication rather than Islamic models of HR.
Other Unethical Instance at UAE
Dubai FAQ (2011, p. 1) mentioned that the employers of UAE are sizing the passports of the employees to prevent high rate of employees’ turnover.
The passport of an employee is the property of the issuing government and the holder of this travel document is authorized to keep it in his custody. It is illegal in context of UAE labor law to sizing any employee’s passport, but the practice of such illegal activity has become as a tradition to bind the foreign workers under slavery and there is none to protect the employee’s rights.
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the employers enjoyed more power in case of drug testing and there are many valid reasons to say that it is essential to ensure workplace safety though the relationship between employers and employees may destroy due to random testing.
However, labor law of UAE strictly prohibited to consume drug in the work place, Law of Saudi Arabia imposed sever penalty for the employees and other Middle East countries like Kuwait also included this issue in the regulation. However, spying on internet activity like e-mail and computer monitoring should not be allowed considering privacy issues but the low of UAE and other Middle East does not address such issues with strict lawful barriers.
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United Arab Emirates