Can an employee be compelled to work against his wishes?


Status as on- 10/06/2023

The question of whether an employee can be forced to work against his will is complicated, with no simple answer. On the one hand, employers have a legitimate interest in ensuring that their employees are productive and efficient, and they may occasionally be required to ask them to do tasks that they would prefer not to do. On the other hand, employees have rights and interests that must be protected. In general, forcing an employee to work against his will is neither ethical nor legal. In some cases, an employee is made to do work for long hours without adequate compensation or breaks such actions may even be considered harassment or discrimination.


Under Indian contract law, specifically the Indian Contract Act of 1872, an employer cannot compel an employee to work against their wishes. According to Section 10 of the ICA, 1872, ‘Free Consent’ is one of the essential elements of a valid contract. Consent is defined under Section 13 of ICA, 1872, which states that when two parties involved in a contract agree on the same thing in the same sense, it is known as consent. It works on the Latin term consensus ad idem which means the meeting of minds.

The following act Section 14 recognizes that a valid contract requires the free consent of both parties involved. If an employee is forced or coerced into working against their will, it would be considered a violation of their rights and would likely render the contract voidable. Section 14 of the Indian Contract Act states that consent is not free if it is obtained by coercion, undue influence, fraud, misrepresentation, or mistake. Therefore, if an employer attempts to force an employee to work against their wishes, it can be considered coercion and a violation of the law.

Employment relationships in India are typically governed by contractual agreements and labor laws. The Indian Constitution also prohibits an employee from being forced to work against their will. The Indian Constitution guarantees its citizens fundamental rights and protections, including the right to personal liberty and freedom of choice.

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the protection of life and personal liberty. This includes the right to work under conditions of one’s choice and the freedom to engage in any lawful profession, occupation, trade, or business. It prohibits any form of forced labor or involuntary servitude.

Article 23 and 24 of the Indian constitution, states the right against exploitation “Traffic in human beings and the beggar and other similar forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law. (2) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service for public purposes, and in imposing such service the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste or class or any of them.” “No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment” respectively.

Deena v. Union of India, AIR 1983 SC 1155

In the case of Deena Dayal Etc. v Union of India and Others, it was held that if a prisoner is forced to do labor without giving him any remuneration, it is deemed to be forced labor and is violative of Article 23 of the Indian Constitution. This is because the prisoners are entitled to receive reasonable wages for the labor they did.

As a result, an employee cannot be forced to work against their will or forced to perform work to which they do not consent. If such coercion occurs, it is a violation of the employee’s constitutional rights, and they have the right to seek legal redress and protection. While the Constitution guarantees these basic rights, specific labor laws and employment contracts also play a role in regulating the employer-employee relationship and ensuring fair working conditions. Finally, employers and employees should communicate openly and honestly about their needs and expectations. Both parties can achieve their goals while respecting each other’s rights and interests if they work together in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.


Disclaimer: The above article is based on the personal interpretation of the related orders and laws. The readers are expected to take expert opinions before relying upon the article. For more information, please contact us at

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