Something Wicked In The Works

First off, No, I am not a lawyer or for that matter a practitioner thereof (but I am an experiencer for the lack of a better word which does not mean I consider myself a victim nor target, if anything as result rather a ‘tour-de-force’ or personification thereof). However, we do depend on them, experts in law that is, whatsoever the reason might be. Also, it is shocking to realize the amount of legislation there is out there even if one considers only South African law. Now just like with any field or area of practice you get the skilled and unskilled, the good, the bad and the ugly if you will. Also, it is shocking to realize the amount of legislation there is out there even if one considers only South African law. Now just like with any field or area of practice you get the skilled and unskilled, the good, the bad and the ugly if you will.
Now why is this important you ask? Because your life depends on it, that is, if I can simplify it. When I say “your life” I do not refer to in a stark “live or die” manner. I simply infer that you must know that almost all aspect of your life is in a way governed by Law. Scary, I know. But in this entry, I want to cover one specific area of law. And though the workplace is about employers and employees, in this article I want to focus on the side with the least 'power', the employee and essentially big time deal with that thing called Human Resources. So hitherto mine rants!

Labour Law, HR and The Workplace

Now although this entry is geared towards those working for remuneration under contract and not those who work for themselves (although if you do you might want to ensure your employees are treated properly and you yourself conform to Labour Law – after all, what your employees asserts about their workplace is a direct reflection on you who either employed them in the first place or by way of your company’s employment structure essentially leading up to the person heading your Human Resource Department).
So, for those working essentially for a pay check to put it bluntly, remember one thing, working for someone else is a two-way street, meaning your renumeration (pay check) is your reward for doing what you are employed to do in the first place. Essentially, you have to remember that there are rules and regulations that all companies should follow, including rules and regulations that you should follow. Now normally, mostly and hopefully this is stated in writing or referred to in writing in your contract of employment.
However, this would be more adequately defined by using a narrative that focusses on a more specific area which is none other than the HR department of that company and employees of that company. Think about it, your contract of employment, company policies, payroll, performance reviews, etc… just to name a few are the responsibility of Human Resources (HR) in terms of your employment (how they deal with company politics and tie-in departments such as finance is not your concern, that my friend is their responsibility). Regardless, you are allowed to ask them any question, within reason in relation to your job in relation to other areas, also remember they define how the company follows through on the things life disciplinary action which might include your dismissal, certificate of service and any further legal action you might take against said company will, you guessed it, there you will find them.
So do not underestimate the role of HR, the above makes that pretty clear. They do possess a great deal of power as by definition you can kind of understand why. Yet they must do what is required by their vocation not ego. In any event, whomsoever you deem worthy of your most confidential of matters, maybe a disorder, say depression or anxiety, it is something most even keep to themselves in terms of not sharing with friends. Regardless what it is, the last thing you want is some idiot who uses it against you for sinister reasons as to make things as tough as possible since they feel they can and / or the motivation is to ultimately get rid of you. In any event, watch out, you might think this will never happen, from first hand experience let me tell you, you have no idea how wicked certain people can be. Therefore, I am giving you the knowledge to empower you to plan accordingly, not to create some delusional reality. I deal with facts, cold hard facts.

Back to the Basics

Now it boils down to the following aspects in consideration of the above. First and foremost, you are human, meaning you are granted a certain set of rules (call this legislation, regulation, acts of law, legal or whatsoever terms best defines it). But the basics are as follows, and applies mostly to all types of employment.
It is a tough and boring read, I know, and for that matter think in part why we often navigate around these aspects and in doing so opening ourselves up to possible negligence on part of those who are learned and trained in these areas who misuse (to be as polite as I bare to care) responsibility.
Understandably, there exists a much more complicated substrate, even layers of substrate at times, one cannot address all this in one entry, but challenges and problems are not the same thing. A challenge is a good thing, and if you deal with them as they come you will want bigger challenges, that is, if want you want them. Nothing wrong with sticking to your level of challenge. The bigger the challenge the greater the risks, the bigger the decisions you have to make. Also, the harder you will fall and more you will fail before you succeed. Yet ultimately the greater the reward.
Should you find yourself in a situation thus far described that turned or is turning for the worse, remember up until your recent point in time you have worked hard at getting to where you are, that is, that is your experiences, educational efforts, private and personal under takings such as those that led to your household no matter how small or large, no matter how old or young, physical or mental battles. So besides rules and legal matters your decernment can ultimately lead to sacrifices you might now have to consider. It is in my opinion not something where one can say "let the chips fall where they may".
  • The first and most important piece of material you can regard with absolute importance is the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (including any amendments) but for the sake of sanity stick to the latest. Know this document by heart and do so in the proper context. In other words, get a legal expert to help you out.
  • The second most important is the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA for short). Yes, this is essentially a repeat on the above, but you aught to know how important this document is. Since it ties in with equally important legislation that is mostly not part of the BCEA such as. And I am not saying, read it instead I infer...know it.
  • Laws regarding health and safety, which is just as important but the laws governing this document is specific to many aspects, some which relates to your employment and others that deals with entirely different industries. The important thing is how it ties in with your situation.
  • Laws regarding Employment Equity, its standards, and how it ties into your employment.
  • Realize from the get go that you are essentially a liability, that is, a worker that rightly so according to law your mere existence as a human give you more rights than you might realize. Yet as with anything else created by man can be exploited. And the less you know, the more ill prepared you are the higher the risk of being exploited. Remember in the corporate world you are a liability because of cost to company, and I am not talking about you pay check, I am talking about your health and safety in all respects when at work, doing whatever you are paid to do. In other words they need your skills but if something happens to you while essentially under their care the last thing they want is for you to fall down a flight of stairs either taking them to the drycleaners for their lack of responsibility or you broke your arm and might not be able to perform your duty, now you are a risk. You have to understand that this type of thinking is similar to your responsibility if you are a parent. Similar but realize as a parent you (hopefully) would not consider your todler to an existential risk, so notice my point of usage in terms of "similar".
  • So, the moment you accept a job offer stuff like the above is not to be taken lightly by either party.
  • It is always a risk for both employer and employee, and the moment you become an employee, rules, regulations, policies, legal stuff, lawful stuff applies to both parties according to these rules to use a simple term.
  • Terminology often obfuscates subtleties. Example, people employ people. Kinda obvious right? By definition yes but the question is binary, that is, it can be said, people work for other people, or people work with other people. Thus invariably there exists a substrate that might lead to exploitation, manipulation and abusive conduct if left unchecked. Point is much that goes on is pervasive and taking responsibility is something you do from the start. Human behaviour is primary and policy secondary. Don’t rely on responsibilities as dictates by policy… not a good plan.
  • Don’t waste time and energy, if the situation turns out that your efforts at work only leave you doubtful after you realize that your efforts over the course or period of time, you will know this by way of meaningful conviction if your conduct and responsibilities is proper.
  • If reasonable uncertainty and doubt is starting show its face in terms of your own assertiveness over your performance and efforts is at a stand-off, it is essentially in violation of your self-respect. Tension at work should seldom show its face when you retire where it is most important, yourself, your family and community outside of work.
  • I am sure that you want a career based on mutual respect and appreciation and if that is essentially now a pipedream it is perhaps time start get the hell out.
  • The last remark on this, at times of crisis which happens be it at home or work we can become our worst enemy and proper judgement is replaced with paranoia, in other words, is the above remarks real or simply you seeing stuff that aren’t real? Double check your own personal and private live as well.
You can scale with your income to improve any possible outcome… what you cannot do is reclaim that which you love most. Sure, debt can be repaid, living conditions improved, even drastically if you are resilient, enduring and happily walk through hell and keep going… end up having more money to know what to do with. However, there are things money cannot buy, fix or reverse, you know what they are, be responsible with that which matters, treat yourself with dignity and respect and if you do it right you might given the worst case scenario lose it all but at least you will have that which matters most. All of the listed basics are doable, whether important, relevant or meaningful to you though, only you can decide.

Bad Company Politics

There is no need to question the methodology, codes of conduct, ethics or other means of practices that your employer has in place, put in place etc… but never give them the benefit of the doubt. Verify company documents provided to you before signing or agreeing to the terms.
Most often the techniques that some toxic companies use look harmless enough until you start understanding what the document is all about. Maybe you have things you do in your private life away from work, not in contravention your contractual agreement with them, yet for some reason said company wants you to sign away your "patents" or whatever you do to them. Here are some pointers that will go along way if used and understood properly.
  • The first and most important piece of material you can regard with absolute importance is the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (including any amendments) but for the sake of sanity stick to the latest. Know this document by heart and do so in the proper context. In other words, get a legal expert to help you out.
  • Ask for company policies, what they are, where they are and demand that those documents are made available for you to verify. Most companies will present these policy documentations either at the start of your contractual agreement (your tenure, job permanency, whatever term fits best) or before you use the equipment (including access to facilities digital or not). Be extremely weary when you are not given these documents to review and yes, it is your right and privilege to ask for a copy you can verify with your lawyer before signing or agreeing to the terms.
  • On the above point, follow the rules and go straight to Human Resources and report the matter. Then make sure your own legal representation is aware of the matter since there are time constraints and proper conduct that should follow and if your Human Resource Department delay, do little about it or if in anyway in contradiction with what your legal representative provides you with, then take action by way of your own legal representative's recommendation.
  • This is why having proper legal representation is so extremely important. This is why knowing the BCEA is important and why internal policies are important.
Proclamation without investigation where Human Resources overwhelmingly dictates the deciding factor is dangerous, should not be part of workplace ethics and accommodation but this and many other articles elsewhere is the statistical reality and given the above the very reason why responsibility at the individual level is not just important but essential.

Human Resources (HR) and Ethics

Now it boils down to the following aspects in consideration of the above. First and foremost, you are human, meaning you are granted a certain set of rules (call this legislation, regulation, acts of law, legal or whatsoever terms best defines it). But the basics are as follows, and applies mostly to all types of employment.
1 Consider serial killer Ed Kemper who studied the psychology literature while at criminally insane unit of the Atascadero State Hospital in order to fake his own sanity using the very 'tools' used by Psychology Experts in order to properly diagnose and possibly treat patients. I use this to demonstrate that the fact is the same information used for good can be used for bad. The same literature used by law enforcement in terms of understanding criminal behaviour, protocols that dictates patterns, profiling and ultimately arresting a suspect can be used by the suspect to avoid capture in the short term. So you would think well, normally these literature if not understood is somewhat useless which is true, that is why I mentioned it applies in the short term. Problem is that the landscape of human resources is multi-displinary in terms of education and application. It already deals with labour law and to a large extend psychology to name but a primary and secondary. Couple that with company ethics and policies and you already have quite a dire situation if the person in charge of HR is moreover in favour of the employer opposed to the employee.
I am by no means stating that HR have anything to do with serial killers, it is merely used for context in regards to how information can be exploited. Of course ultimately you never know. That however begs the question, how well do you and/or your fellow employees know those whom you trust with your personal information and other responsibilities?
You would be surprised how varied the roles and purposes of HR is across different companies regardless of industry or type (profit or non-profit for example). I use to work for a company which had an HR Department that was so well integrated with the company, so well-versed in Labour practices, so much so they were worthy of said title. Policies, governance, reward, discipline and ethics was so well balanced, professional and up to date not just with rules and regulations as set by said company but those which are required by South African Law. Unfortunately due in part because of being a financial institution and the hit our economy took… many employees got retrenched mostly IT staff at first and so on, but they conducted the retrenchment procedure in the cleanest, effective and as painless as possible, looking back I have nothing bad to say about them during or after the end of my tenure.
Now in stark contrast I during another tenure at another company you find the polar opposite, that is, an HR department which for the most part of their existence at least during my not so short over a decade of tenure was run by one person which would be fine had it not been a company with multiple branches, departments, interlinked with other companies that is cross domain in industry, meaning interlinked at levels of corporate, non-profit, profit, governmental that co-depends on the other for various factors as is the case in industry.
Therefore, I offer the following as another subset of key considerations to consider;
  • Companies employee people not objects and thus far no robots, that is, by technical definition blood and human beings which supports the company that should support them by default cannot be effective if all depends on one person who isn’t really the type one can trust.
  • By default, it would also mean that oversight in regards to a key company department do not exist or if it does it only does at a discretionary level.
  • I feel strongly about the list of things that can eventually be as result of a questionable department and department head. The list of things is far to many to mention and won't list all even if I wanted to since as with all information, it can be used to positive benefit but when the underlying substrate deals with Psychology such as in the case with Human Resources it can be used for exceendingly wicked purposes.At the end of my entry instead there are some resources (also see 1 on the left)
  • Do you really want to work for a company which has such little regard for its employees that it neither scales nor pursue proper recourse in what is key to companies which employee lots of people?
  • There is little doubt that your HR manager, department or officer have be impartial, responsive, adequatly trained and impose fair and just labour practices. The greater the scale of the department the more responsibility on their part ensure the above.
  • HR departments regardless of scale (even if just one HR Officer works for the company) have an equal responsibility in terms of employer and employee relations. HR should practice not just discipline but the entirety of fair labour practices. A workplace do not have to promote 'happiness' but they are required by law to be fair in terms of law and practice.
  • In some organizations employees are either required to belong to some type of union should the employee choose external representation, therefore make sure your own legal advisor know who you work for should they assume representing you. Make sure about this from the start. A good external legal advisor would likely know these aspects. Therefore always make sure your legal advisor is aware when you change employement for any reason. Your records abiding with them should be up to date at all times and where the new ammendments to laws that involves any aspect of your employment change be sure that they keep you informed. Be honest with your legal advisor or legal firm and make sure you have a professional and ongoing relationship with them
  • Ensure you verify and validate your possible choices of law firm or legal advisor and choose the best your budget allows for. Like with your employment you can use much of the other above advice in my entry to help you sift and sort. But you would likely choose representation with a proven track record in terms of labour law including laws that either relates to labour law. In other words some firms specialize in labour law, includes labour as a more general offering where top firms have a much broader scope of specialization. If it is a new firm they will likely be the most affordable but as a firm they still have to build up a reputation, by no means is there anything wrong with choosing the latter, since even the top firms had to start at zero. So it may take some time to choose properly but it will be time well spent. So even though my entry have much more general outline, like with all information only you can decide.

From bad blood to battlefield

Now in stark contrast I during another tenure at another company you find the polar opposite, that is, an HR department which for the most part of their existence at least during my not so short over a decade of tenure was run by one person which would be fine had it not been a company with multiple branches, departments, interlinked with other companies that is cross domain in industry, meaning interlinked at levels of corporate, non-profit, profit, governmental that co-depends on the other for various factors as is the case in industry.
In other words, lest you want to be in a situation like this rather battle it outside of their narrative if the battle is really worth the cost or simply call it a day, leave with self-respect and as much integrity you can.
  • When you are a target and for whatever reason got dismissed besides the obvious as mentioned you can only defend on the points as per your dismissal. So in other words you are defending yourself on a battleground which is defined by those who fired you.
  • You are playing by their rules since they remarked why you were dismissed and you can only defend on those merits. Chances are that you will not stand a snowball’s chance in hell to be compensated or reinstated.
  • Without proper legal representation you might as well quit while you are ahead. Even if you get legal representation remember it is essentially ‘after the fact’ so it is a dire situation for you.
  • You will always be in a position where you do not know what they on the other hand might do since you are playing by their rules. They will simply or likely just add to those merits that got you dismissed.
Do not take revenge, take responsibility and if you are tough and enduring rather expose such matters and create awareness, after some time and more people will understand this rather complex form of “wrong side up” and workplace’s will either have to adapt, conform to standards or they will inevitably close down.
Self-respect thus favour’s the foundational aspects of selfhood and challenges the workplace to adapt properly it is as simple as that. Appreciating the power of self-respect and responsibility means more than expecting nothing less than equal outcome. Equal opportunity is absolutely important but by no means equality without equal outcome. My narrative, to end with, is not in support of individualism, instead to concept of how dangerous individualism as an ideology is.
Now it boils down to the following aspects in consideration of the above. First and foremost, you are human, meaning you are granted a certain set of rules (call this legislation, regulation, acts of law, legal or whatsoever terms best defines it). But the basics are as follows, and applies mostly to all types of employment.

Conclusion

There will always be times of turmoil, historically and statistically. The situations we face must be considered differently and from a broader perspective. Change over time is inevitable and so is choices we face. The variables are many but no matter how many there is no advantage of having a take on a matter without proper conduct. It is up to you to take responsibility how big of a change you want to make.
You cannot make significant changes in any framework that supersedes your ability. Meaning you cannot see how big a box is, where it exists, why it exists and so on if you are inside it, you simply cannot, no one can. To change a situation, you to need to no it from a perspective where you can see it in its entirety.
Self-respect and taking responsibility it not about force, nor power but acting constructively, taking on challenges, standing tall and tough, being resilient to insult and ultimately produce outcomes that are meaningful as much to yourself as to others. Being aware and creating awareness with truthful and powerful positive intent which will resonate with others and that is how you manifest positive change with a forward momentum only limited by your toughness, endurance and willingness to go further and push harder.
Remember… The first time you mess up it is a mistake, however if you repeat the same mistake it is no longer a mistake but a choice.
Other Resources
Below some of the resources relating to HR external to this site and I am sure you will find much more online