The contract of employment - ethical dimensions

Journal of Business Ethics 66 (4):407 - 415 (2006)
Abstract
In this paper, the nature of the contract of employment is explored from an ethical point of view. It is argued that certain normative arguments should be taken into account in order to justify such a contract. Furthermore, an argument is developed against the claim that (a) the individual’s freedom of decision and (b) the practice of institutional arrangements are sufficient to justify a contract of employment. The dimensional analysis offered shows that further conditions are needed: (a) must be elaborated and interpreted to the extent that this condition is not sufficient – rather sub-criteria regarding the agent’s state of knowledge must be met; and (b) should be supplemented by a demand for fairness. A tentative analysis of existing work contracts is the starting point for the ethical analysis. The aim is to show what a legitimate, or reasonable, contract of employment will require. Finally, some important normative implications and consequences regarding the contract’s normative status are discussed.
Keywords contract of employment  ethics  ethical justification  freedom of decision  institutional arrangements  voluntariness  work
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