Using data to understand and resolve employment justice problems

The latest page from HiiL’s Justice Dashboard offers solutions and recommendations to problems at the workplace.

Millions of people around the world regularly experience employment issues. Research conducted by HiiL in 18 countries puts the number of disputes at more than 8 million annually. What do these disputes look like? Non-payment of wages, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, bullying by colleagues or bosses, and sexual harassment get reported as some of the most common employment-related problems. 

Moreover, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to job destruction on a massive scale. Workers in the informal economy and as well workers in the formal economy who work in hospitality, retail, and travel and tourism have lost jobs or faced significant reductions in their income. 

The new Employment Justice page on HiiL’s Justice Dashboard dives into the most pressing employment related problems that people face as well as the solutions that can resolve these problems. Through the voice of Robin, a justice seeker, we provide justice practitioners employed at various levels and services, including policymakers, social workers as well as justice seekers, a glimpse into the bottlenecks that people face in claiming their rights and the kind of outcomes they desire. 

The data offered on the Dashboard page has been collected from empirical research conducted by HiiL in over 18 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the MENA region. It provides actionable insights on various facets of the justice journeys that people undertake, such as stakeholders who were most helpful in resolving the problem, people’s satisfaction with the outcomes that they received and the extent to which their problems were resolved. This data can be unpacked to conduct a granular and in-depth analysis using filters of country, gender, age, and geography. We invite readers to explore the data, formulate questions and look for patterns that emerge with the help of the interactive visualisations. 

For example, persons living in rural and urban areas attribute different stakeholders or mechanisms as being most helpful in resolving employment disputes. In rural areas, 38% of persons regard self-action as most useful, followed by personal networks (18%), other organised procedures (18%), courts and lawyers (9%) and police (7%). On the other hand, a higher percentage of persons in urban areas rely on self action (44%) and personal networks (25%) followed by courts and lawyers (12%). A relatively smaller percentage of urban residents rely on other organised procedures (15%) and police (3%). 

People seek help from these stakeholders to arrive at outcomes that are conducive to their well-being. These outcomes may take the form of timely payment of wages, improvement in the relationship with the employee and acknowledgement, and respect for the work performed by the employee. To deliver these outcomes to people, HiiL has developed a set of recommendations that justice workers and even justice seekers can apply to employment disputes. 

Taking inspiration from methods used in the medical sector to establish guidelines for medical professionals, we identify evidence-based guidelines that justice workers can take as starting points while resolving a problem. To that end, we identified interventions from literature produced by experts and scholars to prevent and resolve employment disputes. We studied the benefits and pitfalls of each intervention, then compared them to other equivalent interventions and graded the quality of each intervention based on its empirical validity or the GRADE method ― a scholarly benchmark given by the medical sector to evaluate the quality of evidence.

These recommendations address the most common and impactful concerns that employees and employers have recorded. Recommendations include but are not limited to:

  • Increasing availability of effective dispute resolution mechanisms at the workplace
  • Building a healthy relationship between employer and employee
  • Coping with work related stress 
  • Offering a fair way for documenting rights and responsibilities of both parties.

The recommendations are anchored in building blocks or core classes of interventions that are effective in resolving and preventing employment disputes. Taken together, these building blocks and recommendations present evidence-based solutions to justice seekers and workers that are helpful in resolving real workplace problems. 

Additionally, we bring to you innovations from all over the world that address wide ranging concerns in the employment sector. To illustrate, FarmworkerzApp addresses issues that crop up between landowners and farm workers. And WageIndicator compares wages and labour laws for the use of employers and employees. 

The second decade of the 21st century was marked by issues that have set the world back by several steps. At the same time, it also provides us an opportunity to rebuild society in an equitable and just way. By unveiling this combination of data and solutions, we seek to strengthen the efforts of justice workers in bridging the unmet needs of millions of people in the world and in developing workplaces that ensure well-being of the employer and employee.

Further Reading