Rights Holders at Risk in The Workplace


Rights Holders at Risk in The Workplace

Societal groups at risk of employment-related discrimination and poor labour conditions

Discrimination in the workplace can occur in various forms and settings, from high-rise office buildings and rural farming communities to factories in export-processing zones. It can affect men or women on the basis of their sex, race, skin colour, national extraction, social origin, religion, political opinions, disability, health or other status.

The purpose of this Country Guide issue is to identify such groups in the local context, so that companies can take steps to measure and mitigate any policies or practices that might impact these groups disproportionately.

Toward this end, the Country Guide provides a general overview of national legislation and practice in relation to the rights of employees, especially in relation to the relevant provisions regarding the prohibition of discrimination in employment.

Companies may cause, contribute or be directly linked to the following human rights impacts:

  • Failure to prevent acts of discrimination in the workplace, including those rooted in formal structures and cultural traditions.
  • Making decisions concerning hiring, wages, promotion, training, discipline, retirement or termination based on discriminatory characteristics rather than unbiased criteria.
  • Failure to put in place procedures—accessible and known to all workers—where workers can safely report incidents of workplace discrimination.
  • Failure to take reasonable steps to enable qualified persons with disabilities or health conditions to gain employment opportunities with the company, for example by providing wheel chair access, flexible working hours, longer breaks etc.

Depending on the country context, rights holders at risk in the workplace may include:

  • Ethnic Minorities
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Migrant Workers
  • Persons with Disabilities
  • Persons with HIV/AIDS
  • Religious Minorities
  • Sexual Minorities
  • Women

The Country Guide identifies the groups that may be vulnerable to the above adverse impacts in the local context.

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    • International Instruments

      International law prohibits direct and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination occurs when a law, company policy, practice or procedure targets a particular group of people due to a distinguishing personal characteristic. Indirect discrimination occurs when the result of the practical application of a law, company policy, procedure or practice negatively impacts a particular individual or group of people, even if the content appears neutral.

      The issue of discrimination in the workplace relates to the right to just and favourable conditions of work; the right to non-discrimination and the right to freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

      General principles are contained in the following:

      • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
      • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
      • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (1966)
      • UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)
      • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979)
      • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
      • Declaration on the Elimination of All forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (1981)
      • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1956)
      • International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Employees and Members of Their Families (1990)
      • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
      • ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998)
      • ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (C111, 1958)