DMW, an IT consulting company, was awarded first position in the 2015 Best Workplaces Programme in the small business category. Chris Dean, DMW’s managing director, attributed the success to the company’s ‘people-centred ethos and commitment to effective communication’ and ‘high workplace engagement’. ‘When we treat our staff with respect and give them an equal voice in helping to set the direction of DMW I have been continuously surprised at the innovation that they show,’ he said (Great Place to Work Institute, 2015, p. 14). Less positive, reports in 2016 exposed the ‘workhouse or gulag’ conditions at Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, which included a ‘six strikes and you’re out’ policy that sees workers dismissed for six infringements within 6 months (Goodley, The Guardian, 2016, p. 1) and highlighted the problems of working mothers – 20 per cent of working mothers said they experienced harassment or negative comments related to their pregnancy or flexible working from their employer or colleagues (Gallagher, 2016). These reports highlight the importance of three themes we examine in this chapter: communications, employee voice and individual legal rights that protect employees against inequitable treatment in the workplace. As explained in the introductory chapter, the employment relationship can be created in three ways: unilaterally, bilaterally and trilaterally (the employer, unions and statutes).
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