The employer should have more rights than the employee

January 16, 2023

The employer should have more rights than the employee

Does your HR manager possess the right attitude? 

It was in the news today that the soldier who got sacked for refusing anti-covid vaccination had lost his case at the High Court.  He should.  The court is right.

In the HR management of the millennial of today, too many HR managers has lost sight of their accountability and responsibility to the management, the business and the employer.  They have forgotten that they are professionals who paid  money by the employer to take care of his interest and that of the business and that they are to stand by the management first.  This is not to say that HR Management are to stand against the employees.  They are and they must take care of the interest of employees but priority is in the direction of the business first.  Employees must be given the best care and protection where they are of service and value to the business; and to be taken care of such that their value to the business is enhanced even more.

It is therefore professional unethical and morally incompetent of a HR Manager to put position himself as if he is a social activist, social welfare worker or charity organizer.  If he does so, he would be spending the money of the boss  without concern for the return on investment; he is likely fantasizing that he is a HR business partner. A business partner thinks first for the business.  Such a HR Manager is working against the interest of the employer who is the paymaster, who owns the business.  And if his employer does not realize that this HR Manager is a rice-bin weevil, serve the employer right; he deserve it.

The right of employer to set rules

Rules are necessary.  Computers and software run on rules. The whole cosmic system in the universe run on rules.  The sea tide run on rules.  The business has to have rules, otherwise chaos reigns, right and wrong is blurred, and the HR manager himself has problem with wondering he should or should not act in the face of some undesired behaviour or situation with an employee. Worst yet, the confused HR managers stands with that employee and gives the wrong advice to the management and his boss who pays him a salary to give the right advice.

The employer is the one who must set the standards and the rules. The employer does so through the management team to whom he pays a premium in wages to protect his business and interest.

The employee comes to earn a living. He comes as a servant as far as common law on contract of employment is concerned.  The boss is the master under that contract. The employee’s first duty under that contract is to obey the master, put the master’s interest first and everything he does must be done only in the best interest of the employer.  This is the principle of Fiduciary Duty in law. 


What rules and what are reasonable rules?

From safety rules of which the soldier’s case mentioned above is an exanple, attendance rules, work behavior rules, rules on S.O.P, work proceses, rules on interpersonal behavior, rules on personal relationships, rules on clothes and permissible garment at work, make-up,  where to walk and where walking is not allowed; these are all part of what the employer is allowed to decide.  The rules must only not violate any laws in the country.

Where is the common confusion? One of the most common confused thinking is that employee has personal rights that are above that of the law even.  One such problem area is the question of the right to take time off to pray, whether on a daily basis or otherwise.  Confused HR managers who do not differentiate between right and wrong have leaned on their personal values to tell the employer that it is compulsory to give time off, otherwise there will be trouble from other parties.  The facts are:

  1. There are no written civil laws that say that the employer is required to give anyone time off during his work hour to perform his religious obligations
  2. There is no law to say that the employer who refuse to do so can be summoned and charged in court
  3. Whatever negative consequence of disallowing time off is more a question human relations and  the employer’s quest for harmony at the work place and his business and not a question of industrial law or any other law.


The employer is allowed to set a rule that certain forms of garments may not be worn at the workplace. The reason could be because of safety reasons, or it could be for reason of suitability to the business nature, or even that he as the boss don’t like to see that kind of garment, so what?  The employer may set a rule against using certain colour of lipstick while at work because those kind of colours make his business look like a whore-house when it is a wholesome family image business that he wants.  I think the above are clear enough illustrations.

If the HR manager wants to advise the company against or for implementing some rules, he must strictly do so on the basis of first whether the company’s position in law is correct or not, followed by whether in doing what is permissible in law if it is good or not good for the business and customers’ view of the business.

Mr. Chan Wang Tak

Mr. Chan Wang Tak

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