Public administration is the process through which governments manage the public. The laws of the land define boundaries in which public administrators offer guidance, as well as the roles of the citizens in the decision making process. Administrative law provides codes of operation for both the public administrator and the citizens. It encourages transparency and openness in carrying out public administration.
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The law provides fairness in decision making process, which guarantees equity in the society. Administrative law ensures that citizens are part of the decision making in every public administration process. Rather than focusing on the outcome of the decision, administrative law focuses on the process of making the decisions.
When it is conducted transparently on a state level including the opinions of the citizens, this is democratic decision making. Administrative law goes hand in hand with the values of democracy; therefore, most democratic nations use administrative laws to guide administrators on ways of handling the public.
The Ontario government in the year 2007 promised to increase the minimum wage incrementally for three years. However, in 2009, the Premier held a closed-door meeting with business executives where he stated that he would stop the increments before achieving the decided amount. The Premier did not follow the right channels of making a decision as stipulated in the administrative law.
For this reason, the idea of altering the wage increment promise raised many procedural fairness issues. The wage increment was a top priority issue during the election period. Leaders who took office promised to raise the minimum wage to about eleven dollars per hour in a period of three years.
The outcome of the decision was fair, but many people claim that the government did not consider their views in making such decision. A fair decision making process must include the views of the affected group, in this case – the employees. Besides, the decisions concerning such issues as minimum wages must not be made behind the closed doors.
In his statement, the Premier admitted that wage increment should be fair to both the employees and the employers. However, he only consulted the business leaders on the matter and did not seek the views of the workers. The law states that the administrators must offer the affected group, in this case these are the employees, a forum to express themselves before making a decision.
The wage increment was to protect the employees from malicious employers. For this reason, the views of the employees were supposed to become the basis for making any decision concerning wage increment. Since the employees were not given an opportunity to express themselves, the decision-making process can be viewed as undemocratic and non-transparent.
In a democratic nation, politicians cannot alter decisions or promises made to the public without consulting the affected group. Although the Premier alluded to economic struggles as his driving force, both the law and the principles of democracy prohibit such actions.
The Premier could have held meetings with different unions and shared his concerns about the economic stability of the nation. This way, both the public and the Premier could have come up with reasonable and agreeable ways to deal with the wage increment issue openly and fairly.
One might say that the approach the Premier employed was the most efficient way to solve the problem. According to the definition of efficiency, it is the way to achieve the desired result with minimal waste of effort and time . The Premier arranged the meeting with business leaders, and after a private discussion, the decision was made.
This certainly helped to save a lot of time and effort, since finding out the opinion of the workers would have included making ballots, voting and then processing of the votes. Besides, to vote properly, the employees would have to be provided with the information concerning the financial problems and the obstacles to the planned wage increment. All of these preparations and procedures are normally rather lengthy.
This way, instead of engaging the employees, the Premier involved the business leaders as the representatives of the public. It goes without saying that business leaders possess a lot of theoretical and practical expert knowledge and are able to analyze the situation they face professionally, which they did.
Yet, the reaction of the employees was logical, they were not informed about the financial issues, they were not a part of the decision making process, and their promised wage increment was suddenly taken away for unknown reasons. Of course, the public immediately blamed the leaders of being crooked liars.
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This is a typical reaction, which happens every time and in every situation when certain benefits are first promised and then not provided to the public. In order to avoid misinterpretations and frustration in the masses, democratic laws require that the public is informed about the events in time.
In turn, the democratic government officials do not have the right to make decisions on behalf of the public without having a consultation with the public, assuming that the public is well aware of the problems and can provide a wise and sober opinion.
The inclusion of the public into the decision making process does not only help to avoid disorders in the masses and develop mutual trust between the leaders and the public, but also psychologically prepares the citizens for the upcoming changes and makes them less unexpected and shocking in cases when the anticipated outcomes are negative.
The procedural fairness, in this case, goes beyond administrative law. The process of decision-making in public administration has a significant impact on the political, social, and economic aspects of life in a society. For instance, the failure to involve the employees in a decision-making process would breed enmity between the employees and employers.
The employers and employees present two main segments of a society including the rich and the poor. The purpose of the wage increment program was to bridge the gap between these two groups through equity and fair remunerations. Altering those decisions in favor of one group would sour the relationship between the rich and the poor, and enhance social inequality in the society.
The concept of discrimination is the cornerstone of human rights law. In the studied case, the actions of the Premier and business leaders and the exclusion of the public from the discussion of an issue may be perceived as discrimination of the working class and increase the tension between the classes and social equality is detrimental to the economy in a society.
In conclusion, administrative law is an essential element of governance in democratic nations. Public administrators have a duty to honor the laws of the land, including administrative laws in making decisions that affect the lives of the citizens.
The constitution and courts enforce these laws to ensure that the government serves its people with justice. Other than directing the daily operations in a society, the law provides an ideal coexistence between the leaders and their subjects by ensuring respect for the authority.