Dignity of Work

What is dignity of work? Dignity of work is the philosophy that all jobs are equal, and no occupation is considered superior. Whether a job requires physical labor or intellectual labor, every job carries dignity. A person’s dignity and honor are not derived from accomplishments or achievements, but rather by the transformation that occurs by doing a job well and with great care. This transformation is more important than any object or idea produced.                                           Laborem Exercens

Why is it important? Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment. The bible refers to work in both the New and Old Testaments and provides guidelines, which have been further interpreted by our Popes and Bishops. Some examples are:
  • Deuteronomy 24:14-15 Do not withhold wages from your workers, for their livelihood depends on them.
  • Isaiah 58:3-7 To observe religious practices, but oppress your workers is false worship.
  • Jeremiah 22:13 Woe to him who treats his workers unjustly.
  • Luke 3:10-14 Practice integrity in your work. Matthew 20:1-16 All workers should be paid a just and living wage.
The U.S. Conference of Bishops has said “The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, to share in the production process and to economic initiative.”
Questions to Ask Yourself
  • Do I think all work is equal?
  • Do I give more importance to athletes and movie stars than to a waitress?
  • What can I do to promote the dignity of work?
Actions You Can Take
  • Buy Fair Trade products
  • Shop local to support small businesses
  • Show your appreciation with a smile and a short note on your bill (i.e., “Great service!”)
  • Pay tips in cash so employees can get the tip immediately
  • Encourage a living wage (Minimum wage hasn’t increased since 2009)