Gender equality as an important field of mediation
( Note on how to cite this journal: Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post, ISSN: 2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/conflict-insight )
We live in a time of promotion and active use of social norms that ensure gender equality as well as respect of human rights. At the international level, gender equality issues as well as human rights are regulated by Universal Declaration of Human Rights . International Law and Gender Equality Non – Discrimination Legislation, Requirements and Good Practices is just one of the documents regulating the issues that will be discussed at the international level.
International institutions such as the United Nations are examples of good practices of equal representation of both sexes in senior management positions as well as equal salaries. Whether the HR management of companies and state institutions is actively applying the principle of gender equality is just one of the questions that we will consider.
Situation: Here is an example of a woman who worked in 2009 for a company in Serbia. She worked on a temporary employment contract. When she was pregnant, the employer did not extend her contract and she was left without job. Considering that her elementary human rights were violated (the right to work), she sued the company in order to return her job. The judicial process was completed in the way that she was returned to work position by force of the law, through signing a new temporary employment contract.
Although the Republic of Serbia received the first Law on Mediation in 2005 this process was brought in front of the court by the force of the Law. Women still remain unemployed today in case they go on maternity leave, which points to poor business practice of companies. Often, instead of a permanent Employment Contract, companies enter into employment contracts for a period of only a few months, which puts employees in a situation of constant uncertainty whether their work in the company will be prolonged or not.
In the context of human rights, the right to work is one of the primary rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. Article 60 The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia guarantees the right to work as one of the elementary rights.
More precise rights and obligations of employees and employers are regulated by the Law on Labor. The quality of work of the companies and the observance of constitutional and legal determinations are checked by the Inspectorate of Labor and Employment of the Republic of Serbia.
Despite the existence of regulations, the right to work is in many cases not respected. The result of a bad business practice is the discharge of a woman who went on maternity leave.
It is unequivocal to conclude that a woman left without a job has suffered a gross violation of elementary human rights which has been described in detail. If we analyze the situation from the perspective of a woman who is unemployed, we realize she has suffered an emotional injury because she is unfairly damaged by the employer just because she is biologically predetermined to give a birth to children. According to Freud, nature defines what human being is. In a situation where the family is expanding, the significance of losing work is even greater because the needs with more members are bigger. A woman who, at the time is absent for maternity leave, finds out that she has lost her job is exposed to stress, which can affect quality care of newly born child. Let’s say what women experience in the post-child-bearing period and the strong unpleasant emotional experiences. These negative emotional experiences are even more pronounced in the event that there are external influences that would make the psychological condition worse. One of the greatest stresses a person can experience is losing a job.
On the other hand, if we imagine ourselves in the position of an employer, his business may be jeopardized by the decrease in the number of workers. The question arises whether the employer has the opportunity to hire another worker temporarily until the woman returns from her maternity leave. Do they have enough staff to do some of the work activities instead of a worker who is absent at some point in time, whether the reduction in the number of workers reflects the productivity of the company? We must be aware of the fact that companies globally operate in a very uncertain environment. Changes are practically every day. Companies must seriously plan their work which, in the conditions of liberal capitalism, requires greater flexibility and a very quick response to changes in order to maintain competitiveness or achieve it.
We understand that in a conflict situation, both sides face challenges that they need to respond to in order to avoid any damage, whether emotional or material. The point of conflict is no doubt the jeopardizing of work processes that affects the efficiency and effectiveness of the company on the one hand, and on the other, the violation of elementary human rights and the right to work.
Win – win position would be to find a solution in which neither side will be damaged. A woman could be on maternity leave for several months without loss of working position. In agreement with the employer, she could arrange for the continuation of work after the termination of the leave. Her work operations could have been performed by several employees already working in company who know business culture as well as business processes. Another option would be to engage a trainee who would be engaged in a time period while the woman is absent. The third option is the employment of a student who has just graduated with no work experience and who would volunteer in the company to qualify for future work.
Let’s keep in mind that the woman who was fired for the same employer worked for five years to earn an excellent radon experience and while she worked contributed to the positive business of the company. Her maternity leave resulted in termination of employment. The management of the company was thinking of shorter paths. A short-term, vacant job poses a threat to a positive business. In the long run, a fellow employee with a wealth of work experience brings more harm than good.
HR practice has shown that every new employee in a work organization needs a minimum of two months to adapt him/herself as well as to overcome specific elements of the company’s culture and work processes. Work in this period is less effective and efficient. For the company, hiring a new employee in the first few months of work is a form of investment that should be paid in the future. The adaptation period for a new employee to a full working capacity is the period that corresponds to the maternity leave of the female worker. One of the questions that arise is whether it is more cost-effective to preserve an employee with experience or to entertain a new employee who is yet to gain experience in a new random environment?
The number of options for out-of-court conflict resolution is high. Rigidity and gross violation of the law is not the right solution. Companies, as well as employees are in a position that can bring harm but not benefit.
In the segment in which we describe the win – win position, we simultaneously answered the questions that were not essentially written:
- Whether a woman could go on maternity leave with the possibility of extending the employment contract?
- Was the company able to cover the work with existing human resources?
- Why the solution was not to hire a trainee for a limited time?
- Why, as one of the options, did not consider the engagement of a student who would volunteer in a vacant position and thus earned a radon experience he needed a real business engagement.
The introduction of mediation and its increasing application adds to the fact that numerous conflicts are resolved by court. Also, the active implementation of HR management gives the company the opportunity to pre-empt conflict situations on the employer-employee relationship.
The HR management is a business practice of a recent date in companies in Serbia. HR management enables creation of a favorable business climate both for the employer and for the employees. HR management’s competence is, and above all, it represents the interests of the company, however, the real interest of the company is human resources without which work would not be possible.
In the circumstances that the conflict arrives, it is best to resolve them by court, with the active use of mediation, which will find a solution that meets the interests of all parties to the conflict. The process of resolving conflicts is faster and more cost-effective especially when it comes to disputes.