Unjust Labour Practices and How can we tackle them?

We encounter help from people in our day to day lives as well as businesses. In these everyday encounters, there are many unjust labour practices that we all must be aware about.

Some of these unjust practices are listed below:-

Child Labour

According to a 2017 report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the number of child labourers around the world fell from 246 million in 2000 to around 152 million in 2016. However, millions of children continue to be exploited for cheap labour, especially in countries such as India.

How many child labourers are there in India?

According to the ILO, there are around 12.9 million Indian children engaged in work between the ages of 7 to 17 years old. When children are employed or doing unpaid work, they are less likely to attend school or attend only intermittently, trapping them in the cycle of poverty. Millions of Indian girls and boys are going to work every day in quarries and factories, or selling cigarettes on the street. The majority of these children are between 12 and 17 years old and work up to 16 hours a day to help their families make ends meet. But child labour in India can start even earlier with an estimated 10.1 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 years-old engaged in work.

As children get older, their involvement in employment also increases. In India, 20 percent of all children aged 15 to 17 years old are involved in hazardous industries and jobs. Measuring the exact scale of child labour in India is difficult as it is often hidden and under-reported.  There are almost 18 million children between the ages of 7 to 17 years old who are considered “inactive” in India, neither in employment nor in school. These missing girls and boys in India are potentially subject to some of the worst forms of child labour.

The majority of the world's child labour is done in the agriculture sector, including cotton plantations and rice fields. Around 17 percent are employed as service staff, mainly as domestic workers or in restaurants, and another 12 percent of child labour is spread across jobs in the industry sector, including dangerous activities in mines.

Many child labourers in India are working for starvation wages in textile factories, helping with the processing of carpets, or doing back breaking work in brick making factories and quarries. Other child labourers work selling cigarettes, called "Bidis", on the street for the tobacco industry. Children are also used for cheap labour in industries such as steel extraction, gem polishing and carpet manufacturing.  A staggering number of girls are victims of child trafficking in India, whether through traditional bondage or through organized crime. The commercial sexual exploitation of children is among the worst forms of child labour and in India there are around 1.2 million children involved in prostitution.

What needs to be done to stop child labour in India?

Much more has to be done in the political landscape to stop exploitative child labour in India: the laws against child labour must be further tightened and more strictly enforced. In addition, it is important to combat extreme poverty, a root cause of child labour. Addressing poverty and inequality  is crucial to end child labour in India.

Access to education is also vital to break the vicious cycle of poverty and child labour. As children complete higher levels of education, they are more likely to find decent work in adulthood and can use their income to care for themselves and their families without relying on child labour. Although education is compulsory and free in India for children up to the age of 14, widespread poverty forces families to prioritize putting  food on the table over sending their children to school.  As a result, many children attend school irregularly or not at all because they have to work instead.

Wage Discrimination

Also known as compensation discrimination or pay discrimination, wage discrimination violates your rights. You have the right to receive equal pay for equal work. Across the country, the gender pay gap means employers are not providing equal pay for men and women.

What is wage discrimination?

Wage discrimination means paying someone less because of their gender, race, age, or religion.

Paying an employee less because of a protected characteristic violates the law. For example, paying women less than men and vice-versa for the same work qualifies as wage discrimination.

Poor Working Conditions

1) Inadequate Space Utilization

Have you ever heard the term “set up to fail”?  If your employees are lacking the space and resources to do their best work, you are doing just that.  And it isn't just about allocating the right amount of space per person. Your employees need enough space to be able to work comfortably, but they also need the right mix of space to be productive. They need to have access to quiet spaces where they can concentrate on deep work, as well as common areas designed for collaboration. And they need an easy way to find and reserve these spaces. 

2) Ineffective Workplace Technology

Workplace technology is one of the three most important elements that make up the employee experience.

Technology that's slow, outdated, or ineffective is frustrating to use. And over time, that frustration can erode employee satisfaction and even push employees out the door.

Inefficient workplace technology also hurts productivity in a big way. Consider what happens when you're using outdated software for hosting meetings, for instance. At least a few times a week, you have to restart a conference call, log back in and get everyone back on track. 

3) Poor Lighting

If there's one element employees want more than anything else in their workplace design, it's access to natural light. Poor lighting contributes to eye strain, fatigue and reduced productivity. On the contrary, access to plentiful light, especially natural light, can improve productivity. 

4) Inefficient Workplace Processes

Just as it's critical to evaluate workplace technology, it's important to take a hard look at your workplace processes and identify opportunities for improvement. Oftentimes, management and employees will accept a process based solely on the assertion that “this is how it’s always been done.” But times change, and our customers and employees do as well. Open up a dialogue with your team and ask the questions: “What workflow issues are slowing you down?” You’d be surprised at how much things can change with just a few simple tweaks and the automation of certain procedures.

5) A Lack of Workplace Flexibility and Balance

Times have changed a lot. The modern workplace isn’t confined to four walls; it goes everywhere with us. In fact, recent reports show that employees work between 45-59 hours per week, working on commutes or while waiting for dinner to be ready.

You can help employees achieve a greater work/life balance by offering flexible arrangements whenever possible. It's also important to make sure workloads are manageable and encourage employees to use their paid time off.

A well-rested workforce makes a big difference in both the quality and quantity of work. 

6) Uncomfortable Working Conditions

It's difficult to concentrate when you're shivering or constantly fanning yourself to stay cool. Similarly, issues like broken chairs, wobbly desks or clanging pipes create poor working conditions that can become big distractions. 

They keep your employees from engaging in the type of deep work that produces the best results. Over time, they can hurt morale and negatively impact the employee experience. 

The good news is that you can easily address this issue by ensuring employees have an easy way to submit service requests via a mobile app. 

7) A Toxic Company Culture

Your company culture directly influences employee engagement and productivity. In fact, much of today’s workforce will choose to move on to a new job if the workplace culture doesn’t meet their expectations. 

Just like a bad attitude, a negative company culture is contagious. It lowers employee engagement and reduces productivity.

But there's more to creating a positive company culture than providing great perks and hosting an occasional happy hour. It starts with your leadership team establishing strong core values and reinforcing them throughout your organization. 

Key Takeaways, What should we keep in mind to see that people working for us should not experience any unjust treatment.

Create good healthy work environment 

Give fair wages

Create sustainable work environments for your employees

Educate people and employers about sustainable work environments, create an example

Educate the community to lend a helping hand towards labourers via charity, donations, volunteer work, etc.

Going above and beyond in maintaining labour relations

So, these were some of the important things that should be kept in mind while handling, operating and interacting with labourers in your workplace.

Toxic Work Environment 

However, you’re typically able to make it through a bad Monday, survive a challenging week, and learn valuable lessons from a disappointing quarter. 

A toxic work environment is like having all of these challenges on repeat, without a break. It's red flags on top of red flags.

Toxic work environments breed unrest, competition, low morale, constant stressors, negativity, sickness, high turnover, and even bullying. Even worse? Toxic workplaces rarely stay at work.

They typically follow you home. They take over your conversations with loved ones, steal away much-needed sleep, and generally cause worry and stress. 

Toxic workplaces can lead to stress, burnout, depression, damage to your self-esteem, and serious disruptions in your normal life. 

So, if you landed on this article because you’re wondering if your work problems are the result of generalized work stress or something worse, let’s dive into ten signs your workplace might actually be suffering from major dysfunction.

  1. A Toxic Workplace May Have Poor Communication

Insufficient, confusing, or scattered communication is the culprit of so many problems in the workplace.

In fact, communication skills are the most important skills needed in any successful organization. Why?

So much falls under the communication umbrella—including listening skills (both as a manager and an employee), verbal communication, written communication, preferences on how to communicate—the list goes on! 

So, how do you tell if bad communication is leading to workplace toxicity? Here are a few examples of bad communication.

Overall lack of communication as a core issue 

Constant lack of clarity around projects 

Different employees receiving different messages 

Passive-aggressive communication

Weak listening skills

Constant “off-hours” communication 

Communication is the root cause of bad organizations—or good organizations operating poorly. Bad communication often leads to confusion and a lack of purpose for employees. From here, problems arise and compound, often leading to all the other items on our list. 

The takeaway? If your company has bad communication methods, hold on tight. You’re likely in a toxic environment that’s only going to get worse with time. 

  1. A Toxic Workplace May Have Cliques, Exclusion + Gossipy Behavior 

“I want the workplace to feel like eighth grade all over again,” said nobody, ever. So when it does feel like you're back in a middle school cafeteria, it can be pretty deflating. 

We all know what a clique looks like. It’s the group of people—whether at work or at school—that sticks together, grabs each other coffee, laughs at inside jokes (of which they somehow have roughly one million), and generally excludes anyone outside of their tight-knit ring.

And, while we are all adults here, it can feel extremely alienating to exist on the outside of an active clique. 

Simply put, cliques are counterproductive in the workplace. While having workplace friends and acquaintances is good, any behavior that can be described as “clique-ish” is best to be avoided.

Here are a few warning signs you’ve got some Heathers (or Harveys?) in your office:

Constant feeling of exclusion from a group of people

A particular group of toxic employees that lunches, grabs coffee, and organizes happy hours together

Projects often are offered to a particular group, regardless of talent or experience

Large parts of the workday are spent whispering or chatting on messaging platforms

General outward disinterest from the group in anyone else—unless it involves gossip or “drama” 

The takeaway? Avoid cliques. Avoid coworkers that gossip. Don't engage in rumors or hearsay. They have no place at work.

If you recognize that clique-ish behavior includes management and executive-level employees, then you may very well have an organizational mean problem—and that’s about as toxic as it gets. 

  1. A Toxic Workplace May Have Bad Leadership

Here’s a big one.

There’s the old saying, “You don’t leave a job, you leave a bad boss,” for a reason. Bad leadership can seep into every fiber of an organization—and it often does. We profiled eleven types of bad bosses and how to handle them, but here’s the thing…

Sometimes a bad boss is the product of their bad boss—and so on. It’s this generational hierarchy of poor leadership that make the overall workplace—you guessed it—downright toxic. 

Bad bosses wear a variety of hats. You might have a micromanaging boss who constantly corrects you, undermines your decisions, and ultimately disallows you from doing your job.

You might have the “Blame Game” boss, who is quick to pass mistakes on to anyone but themselves. Or, you might be lucky enough to have the “No Respect” boss, who emails at all hours, forgets how to spell your name, and likely doesn’t even know what you do. 

The takeaway? Bad leadership is a sign of a toxic workplace if you have no recourse.

Leadership conduct is extremely important. It sets the tone for how others behave at work. If there is an HR department—or if your bad boss has a pretty decent boss—you can try communicating these issues. 

  1. A Toxic Workplace Likely Has Unmotivated Coworkers

We’re not saying that you should judge your work on the quality (or lack of quality) of those around you.

However, when you find yourself in a workplace full of unmotivated coworkers, it’s going to take its toll on you. You might have two reactions to unmotivated coworkers. 

You’re going to shoulder a ton of work that they aren’t handling—and find yourself burnt out 

Their lack of motivation is going to bum you out—and burn you out with a type of underchallenged burnout

Just like your colleagues can motivate you to work harder, be better, and incubate new ideas, they can wear you down. Unmotivated employees are usually a result of a much larger organizational problem.

Perhaps it’s bad communication from the top. It might be disorganization, disenfranchisement with leadership, or general distrust. Whatever it is, if everyone around you is unmotivated, you’re in a toxic work environment. 

The takeaway? Unfortunately, unless you’re in a leadership position, this problem is indicative of much larger problems—and it’s unlikely that you are going to learn or grow in this environment. 

  1. A Toxic Workplace May Have Stifled Growth

Speaking of growth, if you’re not experiencing it, your workplace might be toxic—even if it’s just personally toxic for you.

If your workplace doesn't seem to offer any mobility, learning opportunities for advancing your skills or career, or mentorship, they are likely not invested in the growth of their employees. Once you’ve recognized that you have nowhere to grow, it might be time to change the soil. 

The takeaway? Your job itself isn’t always responsible for inspiring and motivating you. However, if you feel completely stuck with nowhere to grow, it might be time for you to move on. 

  1. A Toxic Workplace Likely Has Rapid Employee Turnover

Rapid employee turnover is a pretttttttty sure sign that a workplace is toxic. Leaving a job is a tough decision to make. When you notice that several people are making that decision, then something is really rotten. 

Conversely, if employees are constantly being laid off or fired, this can be a sign of a few other toxic elements.

A high turnover rate usually means there’s disorganization, lack of direction, bad leadership, or little opportunity. Pay attention to the turnover rate in your company. 

The takeaway? Rapid turnover is a big sign that things are bad—or about to get worse. If you can, try speaking with some of the employees who either left, were fired, or were laid off. 

  1. A Toxic Workplace Often Has No Work-Life Balance

You deserve to have a full life outside of work.

You should be able to toggle your Slack notifications to OFF. You should be able to leave an email unread after dinner on a Tuesday. You should be able to make your dentist appointment without feeling guilty. 

Work-life balance is essential to survival. No human should be expected to be on the clock at all times. If your job requires that you be on-call at all times, it’s toxic. If your boss requires you to answer emails mid-Saturday—every Saturday—your job is toxic.

Yes, at times, things come up at inopportune hours. However, if you are working under the expectation that you are always to be available for work, your job (in our humble opinion) is toxic garbage. 

The takeaway? A good way to avoid these types of toxic workplaces is by setting healthy work boundaries. If your boundaries can’t be met, or at least compromised, it’s probably not for you. 

  1. A Toxic Workplace Leaves You Battling Burnout

We’ve touched upon burnout a little bit in this article. Burnout is more than a buzzword you may have heard around workplace jargon. Workplace burnout is recognized by the World Health Organization as a legitimate medical diagnosis. 

Burnout can be a surefire sign of toxic work environments—or at least a work environment that doesn’t “work” for you. Here are three types of burnout. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Frenetic Burnout: Frenetic burnout is experienced by employees who put a ton of energy into their work in the hopes that the output will be rewarding. After a sustained period of dedicated work, the frenetic worker does not find positive outcomes.

Underchallenged Burnout: This type of burnout occurs when an employee feels underchallenged and bored at work. Being unable to find any satisfaction in a job, the underchallenged employees find themselves in a lowered mood. 

Worn-out Burnout: The worn-out employee is someone who is resigned about their work after experiencing consistent work stress over a long period of time. Having experienced negligible rewards, the worn-out employee feels disillusioned and uninspired by the job at hand. 

The takeaway? If you’re suffering from any of these types of workplace burnout, seriously consider fleeing your toxic workplace. 

  1. A Toxic Workplace Has Little or No Forward Movement

Sometimes, toxic work cultures grow from some sort of seedling.

Whether the seed is a bad manager, a damaging fiscal year, or an organization-wide failure to uphold the company’s mission, this is where things start to go south. 

If you find that you once described your job as “so great!” and that now you can’t muster a good word, you’re probably experiencing a brand new toxicity—one where you will no longer move forward.

If your movement stalls or halts to a complete stop, it’s usually the symptom of a larger problem.

The takeaway? If there’s no forward movement in your career, especially in one where you previously experienced growth, it’s a sign that things are toxifying. It might be time to consider quitting your job. 

  1. A Toxic Workplace Triggers a Gut Feeling

Just like when you eat spoiled food or too much candy, your gut is your best warning sign.

If your intuition is telling you that your workplace is bad, it’s probably bad. If your anxiety is through the roof, if you suspect you're experiencing discrimination, if your physical health is suffering—and all of this is happening on a regular basis, there's a big problem. 

The takeaway? Trust your gut. If you need to get a second opinion from a friend or loved one, do so. But, your gut is a pro.