Category Archives: Industry News

Manitoba: Employers Will Have to Report Violent Incidents in Workplace

All Manitoba employers will now have to report annually on all violent incidents in their workplace, as part of a set of changes coming to the province’s workplace and safety rules.

Labour Minister Jennifer Howard said the changes will take effect at the end of August and will also require all employers to develop policies on how to get immediate help when workers are threatened.  “You need a way for an employee to call for help, to get immediate help, and they need to know what that procedure is,” said Howard.  She said tracking and reporting violence in the workplace can be “helpful” in assessing what level of risk there is, as well as raising awareness among workers about the importance of coming forward.

“I think in some workplaces, unfortunately, there has been an acceptance of a certain level of violent activity where people don’t think of these things as workplace safety and health issues that they need to report, so I think this helps to raise that awareness,” she said, adding inspectors will have access to the reports.

The changes also make it clear personal information can be released amongst employees to protect workers from violence, an issue that’s cropped up in the health-care sector due to privacy legislation.

Read the rest of the article here.

Chile Retail Sector in Spotlight on Consumer Credit Scandal

Chilean retailers have the reputation as being some of the best operators in Latin America with such powerhouse companies as Falabella and Cencosud.  However, one of them, La Polar, the fourth largest retailer in Chile, is at the heart of a consumer credit fraud that is affecting not only their own performance but shaking confidence in the entire retail sector amidst speculation that increased attention and regulation will be just around the corner.

La Polar’s shares plunged almost 40 percent before trading was suspended after the company admitted to irregularities in their credit terms for over 400,000 customers.  La Polar’s interim President has resigned and the company has estimated it will need to set aside an extra $890 million to cover potential losses.

New Whistle-Blower Guidelines Issued

Last year, the Dodd-Frank act was passed to overhaul the financial regulatory system, includes a provision under which in certain instances the SEC will pay bounties to individuals who report corporate wrongdoing.  This past week, the SEC announced the new rules for the program.  Under this new program, whistle-blowers could be paid 10-30% of fines or recoveries over $1 million.  These new rules will come into effect 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register.

One of the more controversial aspects of the new program is that there is no requirement for a whistle-blower to report their information to internal sources within the company prior to going to the SEC.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce worries that the promise of large paydays will spur workers to  run to the SEC with allegations of wrongdoing, bypassing the anonymous  hotlines and other mechanisms companies put in place after the 2002  Sarbanes-Oxley law.  David Hirschmann, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “Not informing the company of a potential fraud and waiting for the SEC to act is the equivalent of not calling the firefighters down the street to put out a raging fire.”

China’s New Bribery Provision

In case you missed it, the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China was recently amended in Article 164 and new provisions concerning bribery of foreign officials are now in effect since May 1, 2011.  These amendments criminalize bribery of foreign public officals or international organizations in order to seek “unjust commercial benefits.”  For the first time, the reach of PRC law has been extended to conduct by Chinese companies operating in other countries.  It is not yet clear what the scope of this jurisdiction will be and whether it will apply to foreign companies that have operations in China, but that is possible along the same lines as the UK Bribery Act.

Why “Moral” People Act Unethically

There is an article over on BNET that gives a good rudimentary explation of the concept of “moral credentialing” and why it might be partly responsible for why seemingly good people make really poor decisions.  The article also links to a couple of good studies that help explain the underlying premise of moral credentialing.  The analogy used in some of the studies is when one feels okay about eating a pint of double chocolate ice cream because they ran on their treadmill for 20 minutes.  If I am “good” in one respect, it may pyschologically allow me to be “bad” in another.  Certainly something worth considering as you develop your ethics programs..