Legal and Ethical Issues in a Business

Introduction

The primary objective of any business organization is to make profits. In a bid to achieve this goal, the organization relies on the employees’ dedication to better performance. Under-performance of employees could place an organization in a detrimental situation and this could lead to bankruptcy and ultimately translate to business closure or dissolution in the case of a partnership. Therefore, if a business’ core drive is making profits in the long run, then the business has no ruse other than to ensure the health and safety of the employees. The organization has to develop and sustain an enabling work environment while managing and coaching the employees for better performance.

 

Apparently, it is the mandate of any business organization to ensure that the health and safety of employees are diligently incorporated within the business’ policies and principles, so that they are able to focus on the success of the business. Business organizations, despite their sizes in operations or the number of employees, must always adhere to the state rules and regulations as well as the federal labor laws that legally bind an organization with its employees. For effective running of the business operations, the business organization has to uphold its mandate as far as ensuring the health and safety of its employees is concerned.

Through the business’ will to consider the protection of health and safety of the workforce while in operation is ethically considered to be right and any deviation from espousing these issues will undoubtedly put the business on the verge of incurring extra unnecessary costs, which could have been otherwise avoided. The ethical conduct of a business towards its employees is a very crucial facet in business success and will definitely give an organization a significant competitive advantage over other rival firms and will certainly be absorbing competitive employees who will ensure proper business operations.

This paper explicates the health and safety issue inherent in the business organization, giving a relevant reflection of the ethical and legal implications of this situation.

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Description of Business Situation

For several decades, businesses have evolved in the way they engage in their production processes in a bid to improve their output. The world is certainly dynamic in nature and undergoes several radical changes as far as the technological field is concerned. Businesses have often engaged themselves in the adoption of more sophisticated approaches and measures in order to protract their productivity and to be able to realize greater profits. Consequently, they all have recognized the significant role of technological advancement in ensuring the efficiency and quality of production.

This, therefore, has translated to the escalating cases of heavy allocation of capital investment funds in the quest for the adoption of more advanced technology with the aim of increasing productivity. The same businesses also engage their employees in various complicated activities within the business, which has often made them overwork themselves with the aim of completing certain assigned tasks because of the inability and lack of relevant expertise to operate the machines.

Accordingly, Cross and Miller (2011) affirm that workers find themselves working beyond the agreed time, which is a situation that renders them vulnerable to health and safety problems. However, such businesses have often neglected the need to train occasionally their employees apropos the safety measure to be undertaken while handling these sophisticated machines adopted into the business. Accordingly, since the same employees always operate these machines, cases of accidents and/or health issues are bound to arise because of the exposure to complex machines that might compromise the health and safety of the employees. Certainly, there have been various cases reported over time that are still witnessed to transpire at the present, and they definitely seem to keep occurring unless something is done.

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Application of Ethical Theories

The famous proponents of the theory of the Care Ethics opine that what makes something good or bad, right or wrong is that it involves caring for another and provides support to the relationship with other people. The theory works on the basic principle of taking action of caring for the other party that is susceptible or needs support. This ethical theory suggests that business organizations should opt to undertake an action, which seeks to support the employees who are susceptible to any incident that could lead to accidents and/or cause health problems. Briefly, the theory is applicable in business organizations in the sense that it assumes that the business has the mandate to take care of the employees.

Cross & Miller (2011) asserts that employees are always vulnerable to accidents while in their routine operations in various fields within the organization. The organization ought to implement all possible measures and approaches to curb any chances that could render the employees as easy targets of accidents while performing their duties and responsibilities. The organization should not ignore its obligation of protecting or providing care to the employees because of the reality that without their contribution, the organization cannot realize its goals by only concentrating on profit maximization. Ethical business operations significantly contribute to the success of the business as employees are motivated to work hard.

Ethical consideration in terms of taking care of the employees is beneficial not only to the employees but also to the organization as a whole. If the business ensures the safety of its employees, it is likely to avoid any unnecessary costs because in the event of an accident, which in this case is minimal, the company does not have to incur a financial strain since it has ensured all the employees. However, too much care directed at the employee's could as well encourage them to become clumsy and could, in turn, cause other problems with the claim that they are insured.

Additionally, the theory of egoism suggests that one should choose to undertake actions that are suitable in order to meet his/her own self-interest. The organization’s interest is to make profits. In a bid to realize this interest, the organization has to take appropriate actions. Halbert & Ingulli (2011) agree that the business has to take actions involving finance, resource management, and other crucial elements that are significant enough to warrant success to the business.

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The action of providing appropriate security to the employees as far as their health and safety are concerned can be profitable and provide a leeway towards realizing the interest of the business. However, the business could be pursuing various actions that they deem right in satisfying their interests, yet they could harm other individuals. Firms should always endeavor to engage in actions that not only benefit them but also benefit other individuals as well. Apparently, organizations have come to realize that it pays to be ethical, even though others find it to be expensive.

Ethics is a very crucial, yet sophisticated facet of business operations. It is what gives an organization the goodwill it acutely deserves in a manner that, if appropriately incorporated within a business’ daily operations, puts such an organization at an advantage of enjoying greater benefits that accrue to the proper adherence to the ethical conduct in the course of the normal routine of the business in its operations.

According to Jennings (2010), ethical standards within a business must always be adhered to and, in particular, businesses should at all times comply with the need to ethically relate with employees while ensuring that they are properly exposed to the procedures involved with the handling of machines so as to avoid any incidence of the accident. In so doing, the business is able to realize its goals and objectives without unnecessarily incurring unbudgeted costs that might otherwise prove unbearable. Organizations must often endeavor to minimize any chances of loss in the form of operational accidents involving employees.

Consequently, they are able to curb significantly any costs arising from negligence by the business to implement a measure that considerably minimizes incidences of accidents and health risks. Often, businesses are involved in daily business operations that encompass the application of proper adherence to the processes and procedures in different relevant fields within the business. For instance, in a manufacturing firm inputs have to go through several processes before they reach the customer for the consumption of the product. Undoubtedly, such businesses employ scores of heavy machinery that are operated by employees within the business. The possibility of accidents occurring is very likely to be high because of the fact that some machines can easily fail to function normally and this might lead to a possible occurrence of accidents that could turn out to be fatal.

Many organizations believe that the adoption of more advanced technologies in terms of machinery will place them in an advantageous position. This is because it will be able to produce more within a short period. Certainly, this is the case and therefore, an increasing number of organizations have profoundly invested in heavy machinery that requires the training of employees to equip them with efficient knowledge and relevance on the application of the machines. This is important to the employees’ health and safety measures.

However, Jentz, Miller, and Cross (2010) opine that some organizations often neglect their obligations to provide training for their employees in order to equip them fully with the appropriate knowledge of the machines, in terms of how to use the machines to avoid any case of accidents. The business may also neglect to advise the employees on what to put on as a measure to prevent any harm from occurring to the employees and how to deal with emergencies that may arise during the normal operations of the business in the production phase.

Besides, the business may as well as neglect to purchase safety tools and/or implement measures that safeguard the health of their employees. All this negligence may come up because of the organization’s fear to incur extra costs besides those of acquiring the machinery. The business may decide to avoid certain expenses out of the fear of making losses in training the employees on the proper use of the machines as well as implementing approaches that prevent employees from exposing themselves to health risks. In other cases, the business may be using a defected machine knowingly, but still, avoid incurring the cost of repairing the machine out of the fear of incurring unnecessary costs or procrastinating its repair. Such cases occurred before and they still ensure now and could possibly happen in the future. In such a scenario, the business is to operate without following the ethical standards that it ought to follow.

 

Quite a number of organizations in the past have overworked their employees who worked up till late at night. Occasionally, these employees have to deal with heavy duties and responsibilities because the company feels that employing more workers will be costly. This is undoubtedly against the agreed terms and conditions in the making of the contract as it stipulates. Meiners, Ringleb, and Edwards (2011) reiterate that such companies should always guarantee that they indicate any prevalence where they may require involving the employee in any extra time off work. Working up too late hours and traveling at night back home put employees at risk of confrontation with criminals and being robbed of their belongings or even killed.

Besides, there are risks of developing a health complication because of overworking the employee(s) and, in most cases, the company does not care about the implication of such unethical behavior that endangers the life of the employees. It is not astonishing to find out that indeed there are no compensations given to such employees who have no choice other than to work for extra hours for the benefit of the company. Some companies even go-ahead to the extent of threatening to sack employees who do not comply with the company’s orders. On the other hand, there are those businesses that do not take heed to the employees’ complaints of harassments and they often give a deaf ear to such laments.

These cases are very evident even at present in the business environment where organizations would refute any complaint raised by the employees in the cases of unethical behaviors of some managers, claiming that such laments could taint the image of the business. Consequently, they occasionally disregard taking appropriate actions until something malicious takes place within the business and that is when they raise concern on the issue.

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Application of Relevant Areas of Law

Ethically, the businesses are supposed to lay bare all the rules, procedures, and measures to be undertaken when using the machines and equip the employees with the relevant knowledge about the safety measure to be taken when in the operation of such machines to avoid any cases of accidents or risk of compromising the health of the employees. Notably, Palmer (2010) explains that this negligence by the business to ensure that it safeguards its employees’ health as well as guarantees their safety while applying these machines is unethical and, as the saying goes, whatever is unethical is certainly illegal. That is, in such a case, the business may face the law repercussions because of its negligence to protect and uphold the health and safety of the employees.

The negligence of the business organization to exercise apposite care and provide proficient knowledge in accordance with the ethical standards amounts to legal liability for committing a tort of negligence by a contract. Failure to take reasonable and prudent action with regard to ensuring that the business safeguards the health and safety of the employees is illegal and employees have the right to sue the company for negligence to protect their health and safeguard them. Certainly, it is the right of the company to make sure that all the machines in operations are handled with the relevant expertise required and that all the machines in use for production are in a good condition to avoid any possibility of accidents or exposure of employees to health problems.

If an accident happens and/or an employee is confirmed to have sustained injuries because of the malfunctioning of a machine, the employee can rightfully sue the company for negligence to take an appropriate course of action. Accordingly, the law may take its course and the relevant authority has the legal right to prosecute the company for the failure to take actions and ensure that the health and safety of employees are upheld.

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Recommendations

It is recommendable that businesses should always endeavor to ensure that before an acquired machine is put into operations, necessary measures and precautions are employed to make sure that all employees directly or indirectly linked to the operation of the machine are exposed to the relevant knowledge about the machine(s). These businesses should train the employees on the safety measures and precautions necessary to be undertaken while in operation to avoid any accidents or injuries. It is appropriate to provide the employees with the relevant training because of the fact that the machine is new and many employees do not have the required expertise to run the machine. Hence, they may easily make a mistake or easily get involved in an accident while in operation, which is bound to cause the company extra dollars.

Besides, Sharp (2006) asserts that the business should as well ensure that they adopt proper approaches and measures that minimize the possibility of employees being exposed to health risks. Ideally, companies should regularly inspect their machines to ensure that they are functionally viable and that they do not pose any health risk or rather expose the employees in operation to any possible accidents. Companies should also try to ethically operate their businesses and desist from gaining and reporting high profits at the expense of the employees’ health and safety. As much as they seem too desperately seeking to amass as many profits as they can, they should also consider that they preserve the health and safety of the employees.

Other than the payments of salaries to the employees who operate in the company, the business should as well try to protect the company assets that are the employees for the success of the company heavily depends on them. This is to means that without the dedication of the employees to the proper execution of their duties and responsibilities within the company, the company cannot continue to make any further profits nor will it survive through the test of time.

Ethics enhance the way employees within the organization engage in the business operations within an organization. Through ethics, employees are always empowered and encouraged to make individual sacrifices in favor of the organization since they are aware of the organization’s full dedication to perpetuate their welfare within the organization. Ethics ensures that employees or workers play a very crucial role in the success of a business. Therefore, the business ought to use business ethics appropriately while dealing with the employees, so that their trust and loyalty are not lost. The consideration of the ethical aspect in the creation of a trustworthy relationship is a crucial step towards the proper reflection on the care and upholding of the employees’ health and safety measures.

The company should always know the rules and regulations governing any limitations to hours that the workers have worked, and the company should consider overtime payments for any extra time worked by the employees. In addition, the company should avoid wrongful termination of employees’ term of work as stipulated in the contract form. The company should additionally ensure that there is no workplace harassment for its employees as well as ensure that there is no form of discrimination.

Additionally, Tittle (2000) is of the view that the business can consider closely working with the insurance providers on matters concerning the employees’ safety and health issues. This will be in the sense that they set aside some funds for each employee as personal insurance funds so that in the case of uncertainty, such as an accident, the business does not incur heavy expenses in trying to slot funds from the revenue generated in a bid to pay for the hospital bills. Above all, the business should ethically conduct its business operations while keeping abreast of all the necessary measures to avoid uncertainty, which is usually costly.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, the foregoing discussion has explicitly unveiled many forms of unethical behavior within the business scenario as far as the health and safety of the employees are concerned. Apparently, the discussion has revealed that since the success of the business relies heavily on the efforts put forward by the employees, the business has the mandate to take care of their employees’ safety while conserving their health for they are the main asset that the business can always feel proud of. The paper has explicated the situation of a business that has been identified to pose safety and health issues to the employees, which raises ethical and legal concerns about the operations of the business.

The paper has also demonstrated how such scenarios may arise and has diligently dealt with relevant approaches that firms can consider as effective in ensuring the health and safety of the employees. This mandate is directly linked to the managers who are inevitably faced with various challenging issues that emerge in daily business operations. Consequently, the need for the incorporation of ethics as far as business decision making is concerned becomes crucial. The success of the business lies in the hands of managers in today’s business environment and, thus, managers ought to consider the important role played by ethical decision making in the organization.

Moreover, managers are always encouraged to endeavor the practice of ethical decision making with a view that is geared towards the realization of the organizational goals through critical decision making about the internal environment as well as the external environment. A well-designed business environment bases its managerial decision-making process on ethics, which in turn contributes to the employees’ commitment to the organization. Appropriate consideration of these ethical behaviors in establishing a long-lasting relationship between the employees and the organization is an imperative approach in management. Besides, proper treatment of the employees within the work environment is advantageous to the business as workers are able to get ample time to engage in their respective activities and improve their performance, hence improving the productivity.

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