Global Workplace Issues

Global Workplace Issues
The labor market has been changing globally in unprecedented ways within
the last few decades. Organizations in the developed economy are facing
the challenge of an aging workforce while their counterparts in the
developing economies encounter challenges related to unqualified staff
and the difficulty of retained experienced employees. Amidst these
challenges, some unethical practices (such as forced labor, child labor,
and long working hours) have been increasing the global labor market.
This paper will provide a discussion of the three unethical practices in
the global labor market. The International Labor Organization (2012)
defined forced labor as any type of work that is exacted from one person
under the menace of penalty and the affected person did not offer
himself voluntarily. The ILO also defined child labor as the residual
claimant on the time that a child should be in school. Working hours are
defined as the number of hours that a person spends in a paid labor and
it varies with the type of employment contract, organization, and
jurisdiction. Despite the legal measures put in place, forced labor,
child labor, and extension of working hours have been increasing
Forced labor has gained popularity at global level during the slave
trade era, but there were no standard regulations to curtail this
unethical practice. In addition, there was no standard definition of
forced labor until in the nineteen thirty when the International trade
organization formulated the internationally recognized definition (ILO,
2012). Although forced labor was initially understood as slavery, the
definition put forward by the ILO was broader and included different
types of forced labor such as forced labor exploitation, forced sexual
exploitation, and state-imposed forced labor. The legal measures and
conventions advanced by different jurisdictions aim at abolishing forced
labor and create a free labor market that is governed by market forces
with consideration of ethical practices. However, these measures have
not produced the most desirable results since the number of people in
forced labor has been increasing with time. Research shows that over
20.9 million people are trapped in workplaces that they were coerced to
join and have no alternative to leave (ILO, 2012). The large number of
people under forced labor suggests that forced labor is still a major
challenge in the current world.
The numbers of children who are engaged in active labor have been
increasing over the years. According to Edmonds & Pavcnik (2005)
economic hardships prevailing in most parts of the world are forcing
children to engage in labor to earn a living at the expense of
education, health, and leisure. It is estimated that more than 240
million children are engaged in child labor worldwide, which is
equivalent to the total population of the United States (Schaffer,
2005). Child labor is more common in the developing world where families
feel that their children can make a significant contribution towards the
economic productivity of their families. The Schaffer (2005) established
a positive correlation between poverty and the rate of child labor where
families with low dollar expenditure subjected their children to child
labor compared to families with higher dollar expenditures. This
explains that failure of legal measures to address the challenge of
increasing rates of child labor globally because it can only be resolved
by addressing the economic backgrounds of the families of the affected
Working hours are set by government agencies in most jurisdictions, but
they may be varied by different organizations that may wish to ensure
the workloads are completed without recruiting new workers. The tendency
to increase the number of working hours is usually dictated by market
forces such job demands, workloads, performance standards, job
insecurity, and pressures. According to White & Beswick (2003), one
European employee out of twenty works for extended working hours, which
is defined as working for 48 hours and above. The research also revealed
that worked outside the normal daytime working hours, which disrupts the
circadian rhythms. The long working hours subject employees to health
problems and interfere with their wellbeing. In addition, a large number
of employees in the United Kingdom work in shifts, which gives them an
opportunity to work in more than one shift. This has increased the
working time for this population to 49-60 hours every week, which has
increased their health risks (White & Beswick, 2003). Some of these
employees are forced by their organizations that seek to enhance their
productivity at a cheap labor cost.
In conclusion, forced labor, child labor, and extension of normal
working hours has continued in spite of legal measures put in place to
reduce the occurrence of these unethical practices. Forced labor gained
popularity during the slave trade, but it has taken other forms of
coerced occupation. Although forced labor is considered to be a way of
violating human rights, the international organization (ILO) has not
been able to prevent it. Child labor is another global challenge that is
gaining roots, especially in the developing economies. In addition,
economic pressures prevailing in the modern world have forced
organizations to increase the number of working hours in order to
enhance their productivity at a minimum labor cost. The current studies
show that working hours are increased by organizations, but it would be
necessary to investigate if employees are pushing for long working hours
to increase their income in future research.
Edmonds, V. & Pavcnik, N. (2005). International trade and child labor:
Cross-country evidence. Journal of International Economics, 68 (2006),
International Labor Organization (2012). ILO global estimates of forced
labor: Forced and methodology. Geneva: ILO.
Schaffer, J. (2005). Economic perspectives: Ending abusive child labor.
Economic Perspective, 10 (2), 1-40.
White, J. & Beswick, J. (2003). Working long hours. New York: Crown