As Nigerian workers celebrate this year’s Workers’ Day, issues of workplace harassment and bullying have again dominated the conversation as it is said that about 70 percent of workplace harassment is not reported due to a lack of understanding and ignorance of their rights and privileges.
This was brought to the public domain during a special Workers’ Day webinar organized by MACKAY, a learning management consulting firm that provides HR services in Nigeria and other African countries on Friday 29 April. Themed, ‘Promoting Employee Rights In The Workplace: The Way Forward’
In a panel discussion moderated by Omotoyosi Ajayi, communication specialist, MACKAY, the panelists stated that employers of labor must ensure that employees know their rights within the workplace. Accordingly, they said that organisations must continue to train employees on acceptable behaviour and set specific training on workplace harassment.
“70 percent of workplace harassment not reported,” Kunle Agboola, head, outsourcing, and PRO, MACKAY, said. According to him, organizations should ensure that employees understand their rights in regard to workplace harassment, emphasizing a corporate culture of trust and understanding.
He said that any unwelcome behaviour can be categorized as workplace harassment. However, intimidation, bully and harassment are always visible in the workplace. Therefore he urged employers of labour to continually support employees to have a mindset change towards reporting issues of harassment within the workplace.
Wale-Smart Oyerinde, deputy director and head, of membership services, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), said that the level of awareness helps the employee to align with the culture an organization is trying to build.
According to him, there is no reason for any employee not to understand the operationalization of the law within his/her organization. However, he states further that sometimes employers often fall short of their own policy in a bid to lay off an employee.
“Level of awareness and self-regulation is directly proportional to toxicity. Your rights become your rights to the extent of you knowing,” Oyerinde said, stating that the new labor law currently at 95 percent, undergoing ammoniation; stipulates that employees must be contracted after three months.
User Udoh, business/HR strategy thought leader and people developer, said that Nigerian workers do not know their rights. According to him, labor law requires that the workplace be made conducive for all categories of workers and that employers cannot deduct from workers’ salaries without evidence of direct involvement in a loss to the company.
Udoh in urging employees to speak up about workplace harassment said, “Bullies are cowards: when they find out that you stand up to them, they back off”. He further states that employees should clearly disclose the impact of the behavior they find offensive.
“Biggest defense against workplace harassment is knowledge, skills, and the ability to walk away,” Udoh said, stating that walking away should not be an issue for any employee that understands his/her worth in the workplace.
News Source: Business Day