Work Ethics In Muslim Companies
*It’s the end of the month, but there will be no paycheck for another week. As though being late wasn’t bad enough, to top it off, you are made to feel as though the money you’ve worked for isn’t your right, and the company is doing you a favor by paying you anything at all. The organization is simply out of money at the time and you have to wait until they get some. It coincidentally comes to your attention that some employees in higher positions had their checks issued on time and without delay.
*There’s a school where you teach two subjects and you are paid as a quarter-time employee. You were told that your pay was based on 1/4 of the full-time teacher’s pay. When you find out what that rate is, you learn it is much lower than what an actual 1/4 is. The management staff was trying to take advantage of the fact that you are new and don’t know how much money others make. Sadly, you do know another teacher and you realize their dishonesty. As a result, you quit.
*The company you left refused to pay you your last paycheck after they were informed that you wouldn’t be returning the next year. They claimed that withholding the pay was their right since you breached your contract, when in fact you had signed no contract in the first place.
Contracts are made on a yearly basis, so the option to leave at the end of the year is simply a choice not to renew a contract. Moreover, there should be no conditions on getting the pay for work that was already done.
*A business owner approaches you and requests a redesign for his website. When you gave him your price, he said it was too high. So you agree to do it at a lower price and explain your terms for design work (limiting the number of revisions after finalization, requiring 50 percent pay upfront, and overtime will be charged at an hourly rate). In response, you face a horrible attitude. He asks for your references and more samples of work, finally say he might consider hiring you.
Others, in other places, will have gladly paid you the 50 percent advance and would have agreed to abide by the terms. Subhan Allah. All these are real stories happening in Muslim communities. Do Muslim companies think your work is “Fee Sabeelillah” that they think it’s OK to do this?
These companies want you to be there on time, every time, and work flawlessly, in a hurry, with an impossible deadline, and an insane volume of work to be completed by then. Yet the paycheck is neither on time nor adequate. Allah has commanded us to respect agreements.
“…and fulfill (every) engagement, for (every) engagement will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning).” (Qur’an, 17:34)
Are all employees inherently the victims? Of course not. Obviously both cases exist, but unprofessionalism breeds more unprofessionalism. The employee that is slack should be fired. The employer that mistreats its worker should lose that employee to a more deserving firm.
“Woe to Al-Mutaffifin. Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, demand full measure. But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due. Do they not think that they will be called to account? – On a Great Day. A Day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?” (Qur’an, 83:1-6)
Allah warns us specifically about this type of behavior in the Qur’an. Yet it seems as though Muslims are failing (repeatedly) to recognize this as the case or abide by this obligation.
In project management there are three main areas that need to be in balance in order to successfully complete a project:
1. The budget, or how much money is allocated to complete the project.
2. The schedule, which breaks the project into smaller tasks and their respective deadlines.
3. The scope of work, which are the things that need to be completed and delivered by the due date.
Whenever any of these three factors are changed, the entire project will be thrown off. How is that?
Here’s the situation (Bear with the poor example): You gave me a 20 dollar bill and asked me to go to a supermarket to get some items on a list. The list costs exactly $20. So I have 45 minutes to go and bring the groceries home. The project here is getting the groceries. If you were to call me on the phone and tell me you need some fresh meat from the butcher as well, that would throw me off.
I am now over my budget, the extra work will also increase the time I’ll need, and I won’t be able to deliver on schedule.
So changing any of the three factors in any project will change the other two. If you push these limits then either the project will fail or it will be completed with poor quality.
Bottom line: When the balance is lost, the project suffers.
I believe that to be the exact case with these businesses and institutions. They are attempting to ‘milk’ employees for work they aren’t willing (or able) to pay them for. They have expectations that exceed their ability or willingness to fairly compensate for.
Employees come in with higher than usual expectations from a Muslim employer and expect fair treatment. Employees’ morale and trust in their employer drops, as a result, the quality of their work suffers.
Expectations have to be made clear and fulfilled by both sides. If we all know that Allah is watching us, then we should act like it. Muslim businesses and organizations are the pillars of our community. When we build our Ummah on broken principles it can fall apart overnight.