iN general, all servants are bound to carry out all the lawful orders of the master, to be honest and diligent, and not to abuse the masters confidence. Apart from this there may be general conditions depending on the nature of the employment. Contracts made by a servant with the masters authority are binding on the master.

Bribes paid to a servant to contract with a particular person, for example, where a tradesman gives or promises money or other reward to the servant to secure the masters custom, are not binding, and if money has actually been paid the master and not the servant is entitled to it. Breakages A servant must exercise due care in regard to the masters property and if negligent becomes liable to replace it. Therefore a domestic servant can in law only be compelled to pay for breakages if she is negligent. Accidental damage falls upon the master. The mere loss of goods without negligence or the theft from a servant of money entrusted to him by his master does not impose liability on the servant. Discharge Without Notice Early writers on this subject allude to a masters right to chastise his servant moderately, but such right, if it ever existed, no longer remains with the master, whose remedy against an idle or disobedient servant is to discharge him. A servant who refuses to quit the premises when discharged may be put out by force. It is best in such cases to call in a constable. Discharge with notice may of course be effected at any time; discharge without notice may be justified on the following grounds: (1) wilful disobedience of the masters orders; (2) moral misbehaviour or dishonesty; (3) negligence of duty harmful to the master; or (-1) incompetence in the discharge of duties or permanent disability through accident or illness. Moral Misconduct Thus a housemaid who continued to go out of her employers house against his orders failed in an action against him for wages in lieu of notice, for it was held that the master could regulate the times when she was to go out from and return to his house. Drunkenness is moral misconduct justifying discharge without notice.

It is an actionable wrong at law for which a master may be awarded damages for any person to entice a servant from his service. To succeed in his claim the master must prove that the defendant knew the servant was in the plaintiffs employment and that a binding contract of service actually existed at the time.

Damages for Injuries

Anyone who harbours a servant or beats him or injures him or who seduces a female servant may also be sued civilly by the master. These actions depend on the loss of service. Even though a servant has himself recovered damages for injuries received, the masters right to recover is not barred, for his claim is for one tort, loss of service, and the servants claim for another, personal injury. Damages for seduction can be awarded no matter what age the servant may be. The fact that she is a married woman makes no difference.

Wrongful Dismissal

Two remedies are open to a servant wrongfully discharged. He may bring an action against the master for breach of contract, or, if his wages are not paid at the time of discharge, he may aue for aa much as he has earned and treat the contract of service as rescinded.. Damages will depend on the amount of wages and the value of the contract. Domestic servants if successful in a suit for breach of contract will be awarded a months wages.


ACCORDING to the terms of the contract, it is the duty of the master to pay his servant the wages agreed upon and to supply food, lodging and other necessaries. It is a criminal offence for any master wilfully and without lawful excuse to fail to provide the necessary food, clothes and lodging so that the servants life be endangered or his health permanently injured. Young persons under 16, taken from the workhouse as servants, must be properly fed and kept, and special provision is made under the Poor Law Acts for them to be visited. No legal liability rests upon the master to provide medical attendance for a sick or injured servant, but if the master calls in a doctor he will be liable. Injury and Loss While carrying out the orders of his master, a servant may suffer personal injury or incur loss, and a duty then falls upon the master to indemnify him, providing such injury or loss arose as a result of the servant acting lawfully while fulfilling an order which he was bound to obey. There will be no liability if the act was unlawful or if the masters orders be not obeyed, or if by the exerciso of ordinary care the servant could have escaped injury.

No master is bound to indemnify a servant against the act of a fellow servant, with this proviso that the master must engage fellow servants competent to discharge the duties required. For his own personal negligence, the master is always liable, and he must see to it that the conditions of labour are safe. As between his master and himself, a servant in engaging himself in service undertakes to run all risks incidental to his employment.


Extraordinary risks outside the nature of the work are within the servants own choice. Thus a domestic servant who voluntarily stood outside a high window while cleaning it or who interfered with an electrical apparatus and sustained injury, could not claim damages (unless it could be proved that the master was negligent) since the risk was incurred voluntarily and need not have been undertaken. In other words, a master is not bound to tako extraordinary care of the servant, for the mere relationship of master and servant does not allow the sorvant to ignore proper precautions against his own injury. Negligence on the part of the master must be proved bofore a servant can succeed in a claim at common law in which action damages may be awarded to any amount.

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