Individual rights

Similarly, for a worker, an employment opportunity presents a chance to offer his/her services against remuneration. If for some reason such employment does not satisfy the individual – the conditions of work may be unsuitable, there could be better opportunities elsewhere, the demands of the position may go beyond one’s given duties, etc. – s/he may decide to willfully terminate the contract.

Here, the choice of pursuing the work remains firmly with the employee, assuming that s/he is a diligent worker, and it is for him/her to decide if the contract is tenable or not. If it is the latter, the employee is free to leave the job, with or without notice. From these two perspectives, we learn a couple of important things about EAW: first that it is based on the freedom of contract and is thus voluntary, and second, that it maintains efficiency at the workplace. EAW also makes for the freedom of contract as an end in itself (Epstein, p. 122).

The tenets of individual rights, including economic freedom, are paramount in any system of social justice which follows the norms of free societies; thus, the liberties of men must be protected, instead of being subject to undue regulation. The employer and the employee are both (economically) free in formulating a contract of mutual benefit, where the former expects meritorious performance and the latter expects suitable monetary compensation for the same. Both of these expectations are rational; if either party fails to live up to their end of the contract, it is also rational that the other be at liberty to terminate it.

This ensures several things: firstly, the contract fixes productivity as the critical aspect of the mutual agreement; secondly, it guards against employees entrenching themselves in their positions, regardless of any evaluation of their performance; thirdly, it allows the employee the liberty of ascertaining the merits of (a particular) employment and quit the same if it is no longer beneficial. Thus, EAW guarantees economic liberty when participating in the market, and fairness to the participants. Of course, as mentioned earlier, there are several arguments against EAW, while calling for its replacement by due process.

In fact, Werhane and Radin present a persuasive case of how EAW does not necessarily preclude the operation of due process in private companies, by saying that the latter is both a moral corporate duty and consistent with “management decision-making” (p. 121-122). However, there two problems here: firstly, a corporation must of course be mindful of the loyalty and service provided by its employees; however, a moral obligation cannot stretch to include inefficient performance and failure to comply with contractual obligations.

Thus, when productivity is the criterion, an unproductive employee does not warrant any moral responsibility. Think of a teacher who habitually gives incorrect or inaccurate instruction: no institution of learning can have any moral responsibility towards the concerned educator. A corporation, through its work, generates wealth and creates employment; these are important social contributions. In fact, it can be argued that it is a moral responsibility not to detract from such efforts, as unproductive employees do.