How far should firms be allowed to limit their workers’ rights when profits are at stake?

YES: Firms have various legitimate grounds to limit workers’ rights in favor of profit, generally due to conditions where the former has been unfairly emphasized by society at the expense of the latter. Thus, firms should be allowed some degree of power to limit workers’ rights if doing so ensures fairer outcomes for themselves, their workers and society as a whole.

  1. In some countries, workers and unions may be adamant in adhering to legislation stipulating short working hours, thereby harming business productivity and outcomes. In these circumstances, firms and industries as a whole should be given the right at least by society to legally challenge and raise working hours beyond the present legal level.   
  2. In some liberal societies, workers may abuse their legal rights and demand unfair levels of compensation from employers during termination, harming both company turn-over and setting precedents for other disgruntled workers. Firms should have a right to pre-empt such actions by using terms and conditions in their contracts with employees to limit the level of compensation they are entitled to within reasonable rather than excessive levels.  
  3. Exceptional circumstances may arise which threaten the long-term commercial viability of firms, compelling them to temporarily suspend some level of workers’ rights, such as through imposing pay-cuts, to retain their jobs and services to the firm.  

NO: Workers’ rights form the basis of modern and civilized societies and firms should rarely be allowed to limit these rights as doing so will inevitably lead to unfair and inequitable outcomes for society as a whole.

  1. Workers’ rights in many countries support important social and cultural institutions, such as work-life balance and it would be more advisable to prevent rather than condone firms’ attempts to limit these rights to raise profits.
  2. Workers’ rights to demand compensation under the law are instituted to protect them from unfair practices by firms, such as poor workplace safety standards or discrimination, which undermine their well-being. Society should be highly wary of firms which attempt to limit these rights through legalistic instruments such as restrictive contracts signed with unaware or pressured job applicants.  
  3. Exceptional circumstances may arise which threaten the long-term commercial viability of firms, making it tempting for firms to temporarily suspend some workers’ rights. Society should enact legislation

AUTHOR’S NOTE

The inherent worth of observing and protecting workers’ rights requires students to take a moral and practical position in favor of supporting the statement.

It is challenging and inadvisable for students to favor the view that profits should take absolute precedence over workers’ since this undermines most people’s conventional and sensible understanding of the issue.

Thus, in cases where the topic or issue is of inherent worth to humanity, I would advise students to utilize the ‘exception to the norm’ rule in arguing why some unusual circumstances or constraints may compel society to de-prioritize the issue.  

Thus, you affirm a morally and practically sound position as a whole while demonstrating the ability to empathize with other potentially controversial and contentious positions.