When will the time be right to take action? – Work Rights

Published June 20, 2018 | By

This work rights-related question is an obscure, open-ended yet great question, because it says nothing while saying plenty. The answer really depends on what it is that you need to take action on. If you have holes in your roof, the best time is to take action when the sun is shining. The consequences of not taking action then will only become evident when the rain comes. Every building that we enter has a roof problem, well – not necessarily a roof problem, but something that is considered unnecessary to change, until the stuff hits the fan and a bigger problem results.

A very good example of this is for many companies who are engaging cleaning contractors that are really cheap.

Whilst it may seem like a good idea to take the cheap option, it often comes with serious and unenviable consequences: Work rights are not treated with the respect they should get. If the saying that “any press is good press” is true, there is an area that people are loathe to be on the front page of The Age, or a story on A Current Affair for and that is wage theft, wage exploitation and the like. I recently read an article on slavery. Yes, that’s right, and no, it wasn’t relating to the 17th, 18th or 19th century, but to modern Australia and was speaking to the types of things that, sadly, we have been conditioned to thinking is the norm, where organisations have been caught exploiting workers wages and legal rights.

Please make no mistake, we are a commercial business that believes in profit, however we really believe that profit should only exist when all people involved in the process of deriving a profit are treated fairly, having full benefit of their work rights and get paid in accordance with or over and above their legal entitlement. Rightly so, much has been said and written of Australian companies who manufacture offshore use sweatshops. Most have responded to that by developing excellent corporate social responsibility policies, global procurement policies and the like.

But what about the practice of procurement in our own back yard? We shouldn’t need to check that the use of multi-tier subcontracting is not today’s sweatshops, should we? Australians wouldn’t do that to other Australians. Nice to think about, but if you believe that, you probably believe in the the tooth fairy and unicorns.

It is happening under most people’s noses and they hope they don’t get a sniff.

On any given day, there are myriad articles being published as to horror stories about people being exploited. This was just one that I found today and I wasn’t really looking. If you are a company director, owner, manager or procurement officer, it is up to you to help stamp out this sickening practice of ignoring staff work rights. Ask yourself, “How happy am I knowing that the cleaners, trolley collectors, security officers or delivery drivers may be being ripped off?” If your conscience gets to you, there is an easy way to find out if you are at risk of being front page news.

Just ask that person, how much do you get paid, who they are employed by and do they get a payslip? When the company employing them and the uniform don’t match, or they don’t receive a payslip or don’t know how much they get paid, there is a chance that they are not being paid properly. If that happens, it may be time to look for a new supplier.

Ethical employers who do the right thing

Sebastian Property Services is an ethical employer, who pays people correctly and will not expose your brand to the possibility of being identified as contracting with cheats and the associated negative PR and possible fines that come with it. The work rights of our employees are important to us and we stick to our principles by paying more than fair wages.

Cheap service comes at a cost, how much are you prepared to pay for that?