What is an “elf”? An elf is a supernatural being.1 Their human rights (well, elf equivalent) should be respected and the centuries of exploitation should be abolished.
Mr and Mrs Claus in effect oversee production of the toys made each year. An assembly line, if you will. Are the elves being paid? Are they thanked? How is team morale? Is it like a sweat shop? Does Mrs Claus compensate them with biscuits? Will they end up fat and jolly like Santa?2 Will they need more frequent naps as a result of the biscuits? Are they covered by workers’ compensation? Do they have legal representation? What are their typical work hours? Is there an elf superannuation fund? Do they pay taxes3 or are they legally in limbo? Are they independent contractors? Legal matters such as these are discussed in The Laws of Australia Titles, 7 Contract: General Principles, 8 Contracts: Specific, 26 Labour Law and Subtitle 31.10 “Superannuation Funds and Other Special Entities”.
May I turn your attention to a scenario involving an elf. Let’s call him Elvis. It is important to determine whether the relationship between Santa (or Mr Claus as he likes to be called) and young Elvis is that of employer and employee. Elvis could work the majority of the year with the other lemming elves in the toy factory creating toys for children. What if Elvis, and indeed his friends, have dreams of doing other things with their lives? They should be able to live freely, like you and I. If the elves in the factory are not being paid a wage it could be considered a form of false imprisonment, as described in Subtitle 33.8 “Trespass and Intentional Torts – False Imprisonment, Malicious Prosecution and Abuse of Process”.
Is there an anachronistic approach to the recruitment of the elves, like in the police force many years ago (ie is there a requirement that each elf has to be a certain height)? Also, is there an elf boot camp? Are the shorter ones discriminated against and thrown out on the street to rummage for food?
It is highly arguable that Santa (ie Mr Claus, Jolly St Nick, Mr Fancy Pants):
- is a cheapskate who hires elves and exploits them while sitting back and enjoying his wife’s cooking (lazy and sexist);
- potentially relies on the public feeding his reindeers by leaving out carrots (cruelty to animals); and
- delivers gifts to children around the world – who he knows have been either good or bad that year – which are of inferior quality to the genuine article or a plain rip-off (a hypocritical charlatan, a professional hoodwinker).
Elves have the reputation of being extremely hard working. However, Santa is the one who receives the fame and the adulation. During Santa’s photos in malls around the country do you ever see a kid sitting on an elf’s knee having a chat? Health and safety reasons or just plain discrimination? People need to realise that it is the hard work of many – the elves, the reindeers – that results in the delivery of presents on Christmas night, not just the big man, who probably doesn’t even do that legally.
For more information about The Laws of Australia, click here.
- Forklift driver, The Office, BBC, 2001; see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf. This article does not consider the plight of Tolkien elves.
- Clearly not in this case: see McClure O, “Santa’s Elves Race through the Streets of Central in Festive 5K Run”, The Advocate (30 November 2014) (available at http://theadvocate.com/news/10913374-123/santas-elves-race-through-the).
- See Federal Commissioner of Taxation v Barrett (1973) 129 CLR 395; 47 ALJR 616.