Issue 3 (21) 2013

ZhernakovVV_Freedom to work and prohibition of forced labor in the modern labor law

Freedom to work and prohibition of forced labor in the modern labor law

V.V. Zhernakov

National University “Law Academy of Ukraine named after Yaroslav Mudry”
77, Pushkinska st., Kharkiv, Ukraine, 61024
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: The article investigates the content of the principles of freedom of labor and the prohibition of forced labor in their relationship. It also analyzes the anchorage of these principles in the law, ranging from international standards and constitutional provisions to local regulations, and implementation in law enforcement.

Freedom to work is seen not only in the legal, but also in the philosophical, psychological, and economic aspects. Freedom to work is so wide in content and deep in fact a phenomenon that should not be reduced to the right to freely dispose of the labor force as an economic category (or property). It is based on a natural human right to the free development in all ways, not just in relation to use of labor. Inseparability of the ability to work of the person makes it impossible to sell the labor force or the ability to work under an employment contract.

An established logic “labor freedom – the freedom of the labor contract” is supplemented by a third element – the freedom of the employment relationship. This implies the absence of duties of person who is a party in the employment contract for work, as well as the impossibility of the use of civil penalties for failure to implement the labor contract. The article also points out the freedom of termination of employment by the employee and the prohibition of forced termination of the employment contract by the employer.

Freedom to work is manifested in the legal equality of the employee and the employer in the employment relationship. The source of the limitation of freedom in the employment relationship is not the will of the person or entity but the objective necessity of law and order in labor relations.

To study the nature of forced labor such notions as “the need to work” and “forced labor” are involved. They both are seen as external in relation to the person. But, in contrast to the concept of economic necessity of labor, the source of which is the objective phenomena (human needs), in legal sphere it is the person or entity in possession of the power of sanctions that is the source of enforcement.

The article also describes options for the international standard of forced labor, and its reflection in national legislation and judicial practice. The conclusion is made that the transfer of an employee during downtime is not a case of forced labor.

Keywords: freedom to work; the freedom of the labor contract; the freedom of the employment relationship; forced labor


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