Fair/Unfair Treatment

Information on Fair/Unfair Treatment in the workplace in Uganda including being treated unfairly at work, unfair treatment at work by supervisor, unfairness at work

What is fair treatment?

Fair treatment involves acts/activities which people do that make others feel that they are treated reasonably/acceptably. Fair treatment of workers involves respecting their right to privacy, providing feedback regarding their performance, avoiding discrimination of any kind and ensuring that employees get what they deserve.

What is unfair treatment?

Unfair treatment involves acts/activities that are unreasonable, inhumane and degrading to workers.

What is fair treatment based on?

It is based on the fact that all people are entitled to the basic human rights regardless of their age, sex, race, religion or political status.

When and where can fair/unfair treatment occur?

It can take place at any time through words spoken, actions, gestures or in writing. It can also take place at home, on the streets, on transportation systems and at the workplace. In particular, at the workplace, it can be done by the supervisor or and other employees. However, proper and reasonable directions by the supervisor should not be mistaken for unfair treatment.

What are the acts/activities that constitute unfair treatment?

  • Maltreatment, particularly of new workers.
  • Any form of discrimination such as non-payment for work done by workers, denial of promotion for certain category of workers, denial of leave for some workers, and others.
  • Sexual harassment of workers.
  • Dismissal of workers without fair hearing.
  • Forcing workers to work for long hours without rest.
  • Deduction of wages illegally.
  • Making employees do their job in a poor work environment. 

What should an employee do to minimise unfair treatment?

  • Report cases of unfair treatment to the authorities, for instance, to the manager, union leader or the labour officer. 
  • Advise the company to put in place policies such as the non-discrimination policy, sexual harassment policy and HIV/AIDS policy, among others.
  • Support the review of the Human Resource Manual or put one in place in case it doesn’t exist.
  • Engage the employer in Collective Bargaining Agreements.

How can workers’ rights be categorised?

Workers’ rights fall into three groups, namely; the right to job security, the right to fair treatment by the employer and the right to fair treatment in the workplace.

Why is fair treatment important for a worker?

Fair treatment is important to a worker mainly for two reasons. First, it provides the opportunity for personal development for the worker, who will not be discriminated against and will enjoy the opportunity to utilise his/her talent and potential. The second, equally important reason is that fair treatment reduces the possibility of a worker losing his job without any reasonable cause.

What are the consequences of unfair treatment?

Employees who are subject to unfair treatment are intimidated, belittled, and face psychological harm, hence the productivity rate is negatively affected.

How can a worker ensure that he or she is treated fairly?

The worker should ensure that the Human Resource Manual of the company clearly states the rights and obligations of the workers. The worker should ensure that the Human Resource Manual of the company addresses:

  • The right to due process procedures including consistent rules and protocol for grievances.
  • The right to a progressive system of discipline including: an oral warning, a written warning, suspension, transfer or demotion, and, as a last resort, discharge. 

The worker should also notify the authorities in case he or she feels that unfair treatment is happening at his or her workplace even when they are not the victim.

The employee can directly discuss the matter with the person causing the concern; he/she should explain the impact and ask for a behavioural change.

The employee can seek advice from Human Resources on how such a complaint can be handled.

The employee can follow other grievance handling procedures established in the policies at the workplace.

What more should a worker know about fair treatment at the workplace?

The worker should know that he or she is responsible for ensuring that the workplace is safe and unfair treatment is not condoned even when it is another worker involved.

Workers should know their rights and some of them include; the right to equal and impartial treatment by other workers not considering their race, sex, age, national origin, disability, religion; the right to be free from sexual harassment; the right to information; and the right to knowledge about workplace hazards ranging from warnings about chemicals used in the company to necessary safety precautions and simple guidelines for avoiding accidents.

The Ugandan laws protect workers’ rights, and it is the responsibility of the worker to be informed regarding the interpretation of these laws. Violations of workplace rights make the person involved liable to charges of discriminatory practices.

It is important for company owners, managers, and workers to understand the importance of equal treatment of all workers, regardless of race, religion, and social standing.

If a person feels that he or she has been the victim of discrimination or retaliation, he or she may be eligible to pursue legal action against those responsible.

Read more

Find out more about Sexual Harassment in the workplace.


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