The ‘privacy in employment’ critique: a consideration of some of the arguments for ‘ethical’ HRM professional practice

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A developing area of interest in ethics and in legal studies is privacy protection. This paper focuses on privacy protection in employment, and examines some of the arguments of commentators who seek to limit the information obtained from job candidates and employees. The ethical underpinnings of these restrictions are discussed in terms of how privacy in employment relations can be understood as functioning to provide a context for the maintenance and development of self-identity, an autonomous self-concept, the practice of meaningful autonomy, and a pluralistic social order. In the second part of the paper the proposed restrictions are examined in terms of their impact on economic welfare. The latter consideration suggests that HRM and allied professional groupings that unilaterally implemented the critics’ proposals could be deemed to be paternalistic. The potential relevance of legal regulation to resolve this issue for ‘ethical’ HRM professional practice and its significance in the area of genetic discrimination are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Middlesex University Business School

Publication date: July 1, 2002

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