Can Smart Contracts Prevent Shady Workplace Practices?

Bybreen Samuels
Coinmonks
Published in
3 min readJun 27, 2022

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Attending London Tech Week and other related events, always brings me a step closer to our future, imagined realities. However, too often the focus tends to be around business enterprise solutions. And some even feel as though they are products hunting for problems to solve. As opposed to the other way around. Key performance indicators that support the business bottom line, have their place. But the protection of employees that facilitate service delivery of the indicators, are too often ignored. And herein lies the opportunity for abusive practices. They take place even though employers have statutory and contractual responsibilities towards their employees. Namely, establishing and providing clear processes demonstrating a ‘duty of care’.

This duty extends to both physical and psychological care. And employees expect their employers will do the right thing. They place a lot of faith and trust in their company leaders. However, historically and from recent events, the shattering of trust, contractual and statutory obligations, is evident for all to see. For instance, Chris Smalls was fired by Amazon in March 2020. He led a protest walkout because Amazon failed to provide proper safety measures to protect employees from Covid-19. Even though Amazon has a stutotory and contractual duty of care, they still flouted their responsibilities. In response, Chris Smalls launched the Amazon Labor Union. This is groundbreaking because it’s the first, successful union campaign at the tech giant. Smalls is now recognised as the leader of a resurgent labour movement.

This could have been avoided if the terms of the employer and employee agreements, were documented in a Smart Contract. By using this facility, all the duties, rights, responsibilities and expectations would be listed in a Smart Contract. And in turn, it is deployed on a Decentralised Blockchain. Once there, it cannot be altered. And everyone can clearly see what was agreed. Plus, it removes any doubts, hesitations, suspicions and concerns. The beauty of Blockchains is that trust is a central component of transactions. Smart Contracts and Blockchains shift the power dynamics. Because outside of this systematised technology, whoever has responsibility to do the right thing, can at a moments notice, do something completely different. This change in direction can create the possibility to default on what was agreed, any expectations and other obligations.

Naturally, this creates contention and leads to employment litigation. However, Smart Contracts and Blockchains have the power to eliminate this process. Furthermore, they can hold companies accountable. In doing so, leaders may apply higher ethical business practices. And as a result of this type of conduct, all of the company stakeholders become powerful brand ambassadors. Because they’ll move from complaining about terrible working conditions, negligible benefits and inadequate pay. To becoming ‘walking billboards’ extolling the virtues of the fantastic company they work for.

An example of this is Gravity Payments. CEO Dan Price, was confronted by someone of his employees about pay inequalities. Following an assessment of his own values and his desire to improve employee relationships and their lives, he phased in pay rises. He increased the minimum salary for each employee to $70,000. He also reduced his own salary from $1 million down to $70,000. Since his actions in 2015, company profits have skyrocketed. Employee relationships are harmonious as staff feel seen, heard and respected. Proving that business can be ethical, profitable and free from employee litigation.

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Bybreen Samuels
Coinmonks

I write about Ageing, Astrology, A.I and Web 3.0, to help improve your emotional wellbeing & raise awareness of how tech is transforming our lives.