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HR tip: A problem of discrimination?

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.


Question:

"I have just joined a company to head up manufacturing. One section of the operation involves a group of people working in a hot, noisy, smelly and generally highly unpleasant department, cut off from the rest of the works. Every employee in there is a recent immigrant from Pakistan. I am told that they are content with the work and the wages and that, being related, they like to work together and keep themselves to themselves. Am I right to be concerned about this?"

HR tip:

Yes you are. On the surface it would appear that this nasty work is given only to an ethnic minority, and appearances would count in court unless you had strong evidence to justify the situation. I think the first thing you should address is the working environment. Is it healthy and safe? Can it be made more pleasant by introducing devices or procedures that would reduce the heat, noise and smell? And what about the wage rates in there? Are they so low that only immigrants will take the work?

I would try to persuade members of that group to apply for jobs elsewhere in your organisation, if necessary by giving them training, and conversely do something to encourage outsiders to take up jobs in that area, for example by increasing the wage level. One way or another you should integrate that group of people into the workforce and not leave them as – in my perception – outcasts.

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