Contractual Obligations

10 May 07

It has just occurred to me that contracts of employment are probably, in practise, one of the most inflexible types of contract. According to the first definition on dictionary.com, a contract is a “…an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified…” – which seems, to me, to imply a two-way process, whereby this agreement is arrived at through a mutually beneficial compromise of terms. A compromise… Would anyone disagree with me that most people probably do not (at least in the official sense) question any aspect of a contract of employment? In my personal experience, the process seems to be something like the following…

A. get job
B. receive pre-prepared contract from one’s employer
C. offer said contract a cursory perusal, but be so baffled by the Legal-ese waffle therein that one is unable to ingest any of the pertinent details of such
D. sign contract
E. never think about contract again

If anyone feels this does not describe the vast majority of cases, then please feel free to supply such supporting commentary below!

Assuming the above is generally correct, however…

Should we not perhaps be promoting an attitude of at least making a greater effort to understand this (allegedly) mutually arrived at legal document? It does, after all, set out the terms and conditions under which one is expected to spend a likely 30-40 hours each week, for at least a few months and possibly a few decades of one’s existence. Should we not feel that we have some say, as individual and unique human beings, in what those terms and conditions are?

I say yes!

I do, however, have a pre-emptive fear of the likely response from such challenged setters-of-terms… the dreaded and most heinous of concepts… conformity! Specifically, the (alleged) “need for”…

We can’t have one rule for one and one rule for everybody else…

Can’t we? Perhaps if only one of the employees of Gidget’s Widgets questioned and hence received more personally favourable terms as a result of the questioning of his contract. But if, however, he set a precedent… if he encouraged others to follow suit and to demand to be treated like individual and unique human beings with individual and unique needs… would this not, overall, be a good thing? Would it not increase one’s feeling of freedom and personal responsibility and reduce the sense of cog-ness and that one is beholden to the Vast Capitalist Machine for one’s sense of worth and validity as a (apologies for the overuse of this word) unique human being?

Once again…

I say yes!

Convincing the Vast Capitalist Machine of the rightness of such, however, is an entirely different kettle o’kittens…

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6 comments on “Contractual Obligations

  1. Taeguk says:

    I think that’s a really good point about contracts! This supposed compromise (or “meeting of two wills”) is incredibly lop-sided!

    I really like your suggestion about more individualized contracts. Personally, I think the extremely convulted jargon of Legal-ease was developed to prevent we common folk from questioning or challenging the form of the contract. The first step to greater autonomy will have to be either to a ) Get a legible translation of the contract, or b ) discard Legal-ease altogether….

    Oh, and I may have to borrow your “Vast Capatilist Machine” coinage! 😉

  2. Peps says:

    You may indeed “borrow” said coinage, Taeguk! 😉

    The question is, whose job would it be to translate the contract…? :/

  3. Taeguk says:

    Hrmmm…an altruistic lawyer, perhaps?

    Or is that like saying “an unmarried bachelor”? 😉

  4. Peps says:

    I work for a legal firm… so officially I refrain from commentary…

    Unofficially, however…

    😉 😉 😉

  5. Taeguk says:

    Heh, I used to work for a legal firm myself… 😉

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