The Lagrangian-Martian Convention on Indenture is a multilateral treaty which covers the institution of indentured servitude among Space Settlements. For much of the 21st and 22nd century indentured servitude was the way for poor terrestrials to immigrate to space settlements. The idea is that a (wealthy) settler would pay both the spacefare and the required visas for a terrestrial migrant, in return the migrant would promise his labour. Due to the popularity of these contracts, the Association of Lagrangian Settlements (joined by the Republic of Mars) felt it necessary to regulate this practice and to protect the welfare of the indentured servants.
The convention provides for a uniform law regarding indentured servants and their rights and duties. Below a short overview of its provision.
First of all, the convention defines indentured servitude and related terms. Important is that the contract is defined as a voluntary one, i.e. the contract is invalid if one is forced into indenture.
The convention states that the ordinary duration of the indenture is no more than ten years.
The obligations of the master are to provide food, clothing, shelter and healthcare to his or her servant.
The obligations of the servant are to obey his or her master during the period of indenture.
The servant is entitled to sufficient rest. Consequently a master may not require more than 48 hours a week of regular work and no more than 60 hours including penal chores.
Further the servant is entitled to stay in touch with his or her relatives or friends on Earth.
The master is fully liable for any damage caused by his or her servant, though he or she can “retaliate” by prolonging the duration of the contract (even beyond the ten-year maximum).
The servant may only sign contracts with permission of his or her master.
If a servant would become pregnant and would give birth, the servant’s contract will be extended with two years as compensation for maternity leave. However, if the servant’s master would be the father, the contract will not be extended.
A master is entitled to punish his or her servant for poor work, improper behaviour or laziness. One penalty expressly allowed is the use of additional chores as punishment.
Corporal punishment as a method of discipline is allowed, but the servant may not suffer permanent injury.
If servant would run away for the first time, his or her term of indentured will be extended with twice the duration of his absence.
If a servant would run away for the second time, then the total term of indenture is doubled.
If a servant would run away for the third time, he or she will be indentured for life.
However, if a servant would run away because of mistreatment, the master will be punished instead.
Countries which are party to this convention are obliged to arrest and extradite runaway servants.
A master might transfer a contract of indenture to another with the consent of the servant.
If a master would die, the contract will be inherited by his or her heirs.
Transfer of contract will not effect the duration of the indentured.