Laws concerning servants, labourers, workers and contractors

Chapters 13 and 14 deals with the laws concerning workers. I could see at least four types of employment contracts in these chapters.

1. Servants – They have no specific role or responsibility. Once a person becomes a major he can choose to “pledge” oneself for a period or “sell’ for the whole life time to a master. Master pays a lump sum upfront in this arrangement. In this kind of arrangement there are exceptions when the ‘dAsa‘ is freed from serving the master. For example if the servant is asked to do very menial things like picking up a corpse, dung and urine etc., the pledge is freed. As per the agreement when the money is paid back the pledge is released. The children of the one who sells himself are not considered servants. They are regular citizens only.

2. Skilled labourers: People like carpenters etc., and doctors, nurses, consultants etc., who are employed temporarily for a specific period to be paid as per the agreement. Disputes relate the payment of wages need to be resolved as per the witness in such cases.

3. Labour union (sangha-bhRta) : A group of people who come together and do a specific work for agriculture etc., In these cases the union decides the wages for the services they provide and the job is given to the union and certain union laws are observed in such arrangements.

4. Turnkey projects: A work contracted out to an external organization. It is like carrying out work on behalf.

In any of the cases, if the worker is unable to work due to ill health etc., some amount of wage is paid. If employer was not able to get the work done in stipulated amount of time agreed due to lack of raw material etc., in such cases also employer is supposed to pay to the employee full wage.

In all the cases when the employer fails to pay or when the employee fails to deliver disputes arise. All these disputes need to dealt diligently by the judges based on the witness close to the arrangement under dispute. 

Thus we reach the end of 14th chapter of dharmasthIyam deals with the arrangements related to “services” industry considering both sides of a service provider and the consumer’s interests.¬†

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