Essay about Ethics, Privacy in the Workplace

2377 Words Feb 1st, 2013 10 Pages
The aim of this essay is to provide a supportive argument – “for” the notion that an individual’s privacy is more important than any other considerations in the workplace. Workplace scenarios will be outlined including job applications, storage of personal information, Internet and email, information technology effects on privacy, workplace policies and procedures and medical privacy. Differing ethical theories will be applied to both sides of the argument.

The Individual’s Privacy in the workplace
Getting the job.
The story is often heard in Australia how easy it was for people to gain employment in the economically booming 1960’s and early 1970’s; of how people would walk into a workplace in the morning and get a
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The Fair Work Australia Ombudsman recommends that employers “implement best practice when maintaining privacy in the workplace. Employers, employees and their representatives need to know what information may be collected and retained and if it can be passed on to others. This best practice creates certainty and security for both employers and employees.” Fair Work Australia(2010) Page 1
If the non-consequentialist ethical theory of Kantism is applied to this scenario, employers are expected to do the right thing as an act out of duty and by these moral principles the employee information is protected. Under Kantism if an employer was to mishandle this private information by for example selling it to third parties, this action would be morally wrong.
Employers may justify their actions in logging internet and computer activity as a means to reduce “goldbricking” or “cyber-slacking” which is defined as employee’s using company internet accounts for personal / inappropriate use whilst giving the outward appearance of being busy with their work. Employees may see this as an invasion of privacy if they have not been informed or consented in their employment contract of this monitoring occurring. With Kant’s theory an employee’s actions of cyber-slacking would be considered morally wrong as they are not doing the right thing by their employer. By the same token

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