This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Direct and indirect employers

Another useful second distinction, the absence of which has proven particularly harmful in application, is between direct and indirect employers:

“The distinction between the direct and the indirect employer is seen to be very important when one considers both the way in which labour is actually organized and the possibility of the formation of just or unjust relationships in the field of labour.”[1]

It has become the custom to acknowledge only the direct employer, so much so that today when anyone deals with the concept of employment, this is the only type of employment they mean. If we re-introduce the concept of the indirect employer, we are immediately forced to acknowledge the very real interdependence between nations, as well as between individuals within a nation. What, then, is the meaning of these two terms?

“Since the direct employer is the person or institution with whom the worker enters directly into a work contract in accordance with definite conditions, we must understand as the indirect employer many different factors, other than the direct employer, that exercise a determining influence on the shaping both of the work contract and, consequently, of just or unjust relationships in the field of human labour…The concept of indirect employer includes both persons and institutions of various kinds, and also collective labour contracts and the principles of conduct which are laid down by these persons and institutions and which determine the whole socioeconomic system or are its result.”[2]

While the indirect employer is composed of a certain aggregate of social and political elements, it is nonetheless a distinct entity which must be acknowledged for the role it plays in economic action. And because both the direct and indirect employers have legitimate roles, they also have their respective duties which must be fulfilled simultaneously:

“The responsibility of the indirect employer differs from that of the direct employer—the term itself indicates that the responsibility is less direct—but it remains a true responsibility: the indirect employer substantially determines one or other facet of the labour relationship, thus conditioning the conduct of the direct employer when the latter determines in concrete terms the actual work contract and labour relations. This is not to absolve the direct employer from his own responsibility, but only to draw attention to the whole network of influences that condition his conduct. When it is a question of establishing an ethically correct labour policy, all these influences must be kept in mind. A policy is correct when the objective rights of the worker are fully respected.”

“The concept of indirect employer is applicable to every society, and in the first place to the State. For it is the State that must conduct a just labour policy.”[3]

In short, because political society forms the overarching framework in which labor agreements, working conditions, and wages are determined, it has a responsibility above and beyond that of the “direct employer” when it comes to the formation and direction of those agreements. This is a necessary consideration before proceeding to the specific agreement between employer and employee—the agreement called the “labor contract.”[4]

[1] LE, 16.

[2] LE, 16-17.

[3] LE, 17.

[4] See also: LE, 18-19.

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