Previous Page An Issue 60.
Employers should have no right to obtain information about their employees' health or other aspects of their personal lives without the employees' permission. Question
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and / or examples from your own experience, observations or reading. Analysis
Determining whether employers should have access to personal information about employees requires that the interests of businesses in ensuring productivity and stability be weighed against concerns about equity and privacy interests. On balance, my view is that employers should not have the right to obtain personal information about current employees without their consent.
A business' interest in maintaining a stable, productive work force clearly justifies right of access to certain personal information about prospective employees. Job applicants can easily conceal personal information that might adversely affect job performance, thereby damaging the employer in terms of low productivity and high turnover. During employment, however, the employee's interests are far more compelling than those of the employer for three reasons.
First, the employer has every opportunity to monitor ongoing job performance and to replace workers who fail to meet standards regardless of the reason for that failure. Second, allowing free access to personal information about employees might open the floodgates to discriminatory promotions and salary adjustments. Current federal laws-which protect employees from unfair treatment based on gender, race and marital status may not adequately guard against an employer's searching for an excuse to treat certain employees unfairly. Third, access to personal information without consent raises serious privacy concerns especially where multiple individuals have access to the information. Heightening this concern is the ease of access to information which our burgeoning electronic intranets make possible.
In sum, ready access to certain personal information about prospective employees is necessary to protect businesses. However, once hired, an employee's interest in equitable treatment and privacy far outweighs the employer's interest in ensuring a productive and stable work force.