Ethics that are often used interchangeably in discussions of

Ethics is a key branch of
philosophy, concerned with analyzing what is right or wrong in people’s behavior
or conduct. Ethics and morality are terms that are often used interchangeably
in discussions of good and evil. The term ‘ethics’ is usually applied to
persons (ethics comes from the Greek ethos, meaning character) – and ‘morality’
to acts and behavior (moral comes from the Latin moralis, meaning customs or
manners) (Rose, 2007:5)


‘All HR practices have an
ethical foundation. HR deals with the practical consequences of human
behaviour’. (Johnson, 2003)

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Ethics is becoming more and
more important and it is advisable for Human resources to continually address and
revise the code of ethics for issues of public importance. Since HR deals
directly with people, any ethical pitfall can cause damage to the company’s
reputation and hence it needs to handled carefully. There are various unethical
practices in HRM. Some of them according to Amanda Rose (2007) include:

·       Exploiting cheap labor

·       Long working hours

·       Increased work stress

·       Dubious practices in hiring and firing personnel


As a department in an organization,
it is the duty of the professionals to maintain the highest ethical standards
and be ethically responsible in promoting fairness and justice.

Any business would do well
when the customers, clients and employees are satisfied. In a hospital, it is
controversial to say that employees come first because it is focused on
patients and that we strive to make patients satisfied. But if employees are
not happy, patients are not.

Another aspect of following
ethical principles is to shield itself from potential legal issues. Unfair
hiring, unethical promotion and other similar behaviors and issues can become a
costly affair and damage the company’s reputation.


Windstanley and Woodall (1996)
focus on a number of ethical issues in HR. These include:

·       Increased Job insecurity

·       Increase in surveillance and control

·       Deregulation


According to Mathis and Jackson
(1997), seven ethical issues can come into play. They are:

·       Withholding information of a representative with a

·       Exploring credit and criminal records

·       Privacy issues involving AIDS

·       When you consider employment due to dependents health

·       Enforceability of smoking cessation


Deshpande 1996 (as cited by
Ekuma KJ & Akobo L.A.) explained that ethical climate of an organization
influences the behavior of employees and is defined by what constitutes an
ethically correct behavior.

Nowadays, HR professionals
have more power to employment matters than before resulting in them dealing
with ethical issues in workplace. They are now expected to act as “ethical
stewards” (Winstanley & Woodall 1996) or ‘conscience’ of organizations
(Wiley 1998). 


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