Body Checks and the Labour Act
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By Delight Adufutse

In contemporary times, there has been a vast evolution of the approach to work which comprises the language, the dress code as well as the personality to discharge an assigned job in the corporate environment. Evolution of the corporate environment is catalyzed by vigorous technological advancement, in-depth formal education and a great adulteration of culture.  In view of this, most organisations, in the public and private sectors as well as the security services, have standards they expect their workers to meet.

These standards serve as benchmarks that help to keep workers in line with the codes and ethics of the organization. However, it also gives the workers a sense of belonging and protection which in the long run boosts the morale for work. For instance, security personnel are easily identified because they have uniforms that come with unique features like the special coloured pattern fabric, security hat or beret, Shoes, Baton and Security Armlets among others, which make it easy to identify and differentiate one security service from another. And which instil discipline which is much needed in security service.

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This is also because most institutions, depending on the type of service delivery and skills required, demand certain dynamic nuances that are peculiar to the operations and culture of a particular organization. Some of these work conditions are either acceptable or unacceptable depending on the environment and the individuals involved.

These conditions include wearing of safety apparels, bleaching of the skin, tattooing the body, dreadlocking of the hair and having stretch marks. Subconsciously for some reasons, some are by nature and cannot be avoided but managed while some are unacceptable based on the fact that they are as a result of intentional acts. A typical situation for these aforementioned practices and standards is the security service. The personnel are required to be smart and always ready to deliver, and this is why they demand special features like not having a bleached skin, tattoos, dreadlock hair, not having many scars etc. This transcends to the fact that, security work demands a lot of aggressiveness. Therefore in a situation where a person has a bleached skin, its health implications especially in a situation where the person is wounded in the course of discharging duties, the bleached skin becomes very prone to the slightest cut which becomes so difficult to be stitched. Also in the case of dreadlocks, the bulk of the hair hinders the efficiency of the protection of the helmet as it is not able to fit well on the head, to provide the right and required protection.

For these reasons, an extensive education for the public needs to be done with regards to individuals interested in undertaking security jobs for their peculiarity to be appreciated and respected and not back-slashed.

Section 14 (e)  of the Labour Act, 2003(ACT 651), which stipulates the prohibition of restrictive conditions of employment states that “An employer shall not in respect of any person seeking employment, or of persons already in his employment discriminate against the person on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed, social or economic status, disability or politics.”

This certainly calls for the objectivity of the employer without being biased in the recruitment process. However, the employer also has the right to set standards, as captured under section 8 (b) to “formulate policies, execute plans and programmes to set targets.” It is also the duty of the employer under section (9) (c), to take all practicable steps to ensure that the worker is free from risk of personal injury or damage to his or her health or in the course of the worker’s employment or while lawfully on the employer’s premises. Invariably, section 10(a) requires the worker to “work under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions.”

Therefore employers and workers must critically assess the working conditions including clothing requirements and physical body checks before finalizing employment contracts.