What are Human Rights?
Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person, simply because they are human. It does not matter what religion, gender, race or political group they belong to.
In South Africa, the list of human rights can be found in the Bill of Rights, which is Chapter 2 of the Constitution. Businesses must have systems in place that support these rights.
Click on this link to download a free PDF copy of the South African Bill of Rights: Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, Chapter 2 – Bill of Rights
Examples of Human Rights in the Workplace
In South Africa, human rights in the workplace include:
- The right to privacy.
- The right to human dignity.
- The right to equality (or equity).
- The right to information.
- The freedom of speech and expression.
- The freedom of association.
- The freedom of thought and religion.
- The right to vote.
- The right to basic education.
- The right to health care, food, water and social security.
- The right to safety, security and protection of life.
- The right to an environment that is not harmful to your health or well-being.
- The right to fair labour practices.
- The right to access Labour Court.
- The right to assemble and protest (peacefully and unarmed).
- Freedom from slavery and forced labour.
- The freedom of movement.
- The freedom to choose a trade or occupation.
- The right to choose your own language and culture.
Implication of Human Rights in the Workplace
What are the implications of human rights in the South African workplace? In other words, how do these rights apply to the workplace, or how can companies comply to these rights?
Let us look at five commonly discussed workplace rights, namely, the rights to privacy; equality (equity); information; safety, security and protection of life; and the freedom of speech and expression, and their implication in the workplace.
- Businesses should not provide the personal information of employees and clients to anyone else.
- The information of employees’ chronic illnesses should be kept confidential.
- It is illegal to read other people’s emails or record their conversations, unless they are aware of it.
Equality / Equity
- Employees in the same position, who bring the same value to a company, should receive equal pay.
- Employees should not be discriminated against, whether it is on their gender, religion, race, language or sexual orientation.
- Managers should make sure that no employee suffers due to discrimination.
- Business should be transparent with their financial statements.
- If employees request information such as financial statements, with motivation, businesses should provide them with it.
- Businesses should update employees whenever new information comes up.
Safety, security and protection of life
- Employees should work in a safe environment that does not threaten their health or lives.
- Employees should be provided with protective clothing such as masks and gloves where necessary.
- Businesses should comply to safety legislation such as the OHSA or COIDA.
Freedom of speech and expression
- Employees should be allowed to voice their complaints without any victimisation.
- Employees should not be punished for voicing their opinions.
- There should be open communication channels between employees and management.
Other Useful Articles
- Examples of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in South Africa
- How to Promote Social and Cultural Rights in the Workplace
- What Are the Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace?
- Name 5 Components of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
- What is the Triple Bottom Line in CSR? 3Ps Simply Explained
You can download the quiz cards below to help you with your Grade 12, Business Studies, exam revision. You will find more on my Facebook page: Nonjabulo SA. Share them with your friends and test each other online.
1. Name FIVE (5) human rights in the workplace.
2. Explain the implication of the right to privacy for businesses.
3. Explain the implications of safety, security and protection of life in the workplace.
- Bounds, M., 2018. Focus Business Studies Grade 12 Learner’s Book. 14th ed. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman.
- Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. 1996. Chapter 2: Bill of Rights. https://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/constitution/SAConstitution-web-eng-02.pdf [2020/06/19]
- van Rensburg, L. 2020. The Answer Series Grade 12 business studies 3in1 CAPS Study Guide. Claremont: The Answer.