Master and Servant Act - Wikipedia
The first thing I tell students when I teach employment law is that it remains rooted in the master-servant relation. Prof Eric Fink, US law. Until perhaps the last 80 years, the field of "employment" was occupied by three legal types of work relationship: first, the (true) traditional master-servant. traditional master-servant relationship and emerging employer liability law .. tension, as they were manifested in nineteenth-century employment law.
By understanding this, we therefore know the importance for the employer to have total authority over the employee and to exercise control over him in the matter of work performance. For this reason, the courts have always recognized the right of the employer to dismiss an employee if the employee does not fulfil his obligation to obey the employer or to perform his work properly in the best interest of the employer. The superior of an employee is the representative of the employer to the employee.
The employee must behave to the superior in the same manner as he is expected to behave to the employer himself. Any improper behaviour to the superior is the same as showing the same improper behaviour to the employer. A servant is required to behave honestly and without deceit towards the master and must never act in against interests of the master. He is expected to be truthful and straightforward, and not act to cover up his mistakes and errors at work.
The servant must at all times maintain confidentiality concerning matters of the employer and his business which he gains in the course of employment, which is not known to the public, and shall not in any way by his personal conduct at work bring any disrepute to the master.
It is the unwritten duty of a servant to obey the lawful orders and instructions of the master without grumbling, murmuring or protest. When the employer is not around, the servant should perform all duties in the same conscientious manner as when the employer is present.
An employee should never behave in a manner showing self-importance to the employer, or to act or speak impertinently or rudely to him. The employee should also attempt to know the habits of his employer, and anticipate his wishes in such a way that the master does not need to continually remind him of his duties.
If he needs to be constantly reminded, then it shows that he unfit for continued employment. An employee, as a servant who earns his living from the employer cannot be allowed to badmouth his employer or his employment or gossip about his employer.
“Master and servant”: The roots of American employment law
An employee be attend to work on every day that work is scheduled, and when he is granted leave of absence, he must return to his place of work without being late. A servant is expected to perform his work in a cheerful manner at all time.
- Master and Servant Law Law and Legal Definition
The above are the unwritten obligations on the employee. Even if these are not written into the contract, they continue to exist, and disciplinary action can be taken against the employee if there is infringement.
In fact, Margaret Thatcher once famously proclaimed that there was no such thing as society at all. Compare Google with AltaVista remember them? Compare US airlines American and Southwest. In fact, it would be rather odd if this were not the case.
Master and Servant Act
Engaged employees lift performance as the graph from Gallup shows above and worker-friendly management practices produce competitive advantage. Few would argue against this, but that does not mean we are all seeking the same rational solution. There is a difference between trying to create a better master-servant relationship cf benevolent dictatorship and trying to overthrow such a relationship altogether.
Is this just a matter of degree? Are we talking reform or revolution? After all, the words reform, democracy and revolution have all been interpreted in so many different ways. The illusion that there is such a fixed form has often led to rigid, unworkable systems.
At what stage does compromise become a sell out? Their social audit questioned whether the company was: The story led the New York Times to conclude: As long as the master-servant relationship remains intact, concessions to the public good can be taken away just as easily as they are granted. Consider the pressures that arise when a company suddenly enters the globalized marketplace.
Crossing the Post-Industrial Divide draws two fundamental his lessons from years of hands-on experience.
“Master and servant”: The roots of American employment law « Minding the Workplace
Secondly, some issues go beyond improving union-management relations and organizational structures. It can and does happen. The results speak for themselves.
However, as long as the master-servant relationship remains in place, democratization can stall or go into reverse. He argues that a truly democratic workplace is impossible under the current economic rules: He may be right, however the argument smacks of the old reform vs revolution debate. Given sufficient push, it would seem inevitable that it would. How often have we seen economics rewiring politics, and vice versa. Perhaps an end to the master-servant relationship might lead to the democratization of economics itself?
In economist-speak, externalities means the commons. This is as true for investors today as it was in another age for feudal aristocrats. Some of these experiments are worthy of critical!
The master/servant relationship: a mediæval horror romance | New Unionism Network blog
There are other pockets of resistance we need to consider. Quantitative surveying by Professor of Sociology Ed Collom has identified cross-class support for workplace democracy, but there were interesting differences within classes. Public service workers were supportive, as were professional and technical workers; their managers and supervisors not so much .
But again, things are not so simple. Who are the masters, and on whose behalf are they exercising control? They have been given a free hand, so long as they can keep short term gains rolling in. The graph below speaks volumes more.
And governments need not take a position either way. And that our unions have formed the largest democratic structure in the world. And that we could bring the whole global machine of production and services to a stop if we ever decided to. Or the micro-managers, the time-servers, the divide-and-rulers, the passive-aggressives, the stealers-of-credit, the players-of-favourites… Wait a minute.
Above all else, I would like to suggest that none of this matters, in terms of our argument. It is a diversion. The managers are not actually the masters irrespective of how they think and act.
Rather, our concern should be with the CEOs and directors who put them there and continuously define their role. We need to think about management as a function, rather than a group of people.
And our more immediate problem is acknowledging this, even among ourselves. Blaming the person who is one or two rungs above us simply ignores the ladder. As US unionist Kris Rondeau has put it: Imagine you were in control. You have the power. Now, what needs to be changed? Free speech activist Hal Draper summarised the importance of this challenge in the s: Only by fighting for democratic power do workers educate themselves up to the level of being able to wield that power. And then of course there are all those variations within countries.
In fact there is not even an agreed definition of a union. This is the key difference between a union and a labour NGO. Some interesting things follow. Every country has its pretenders. Still others are controlled by political parties.