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Writing Contracts with Passive Structures

This post looks at some of the ways that we can use the Passive Voice in the construction of a contract - in this case, we will us the contract Agreement on Conditions of Employment for Bank Employees. If you would like to look at the whole contract, then do so, as it contains a good range of vocabulary that can be applied to the creation of contracts in general, but to make it slightly easier, I have copied a couple of sections of the contract below. Read the text, paying attention to the different underlined Passive Sentences, and then look at the exercises underneath:


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The Contract


II. Employees’ special duties of loyalty and the banks’ duties of care


5. Secondary employment

Employees are required to devote their professional activities exclusively to the bank. For the duration of the employment relationship, they may not undertake any paid work for a third party without the bank’s permission, if to do so encroaches on their working hours or compromises their performance in the bank or obligation of good faith. The bank’s consent is to be sought in advance by employees wishing to perform functions in a professional association during working hours or to hold public office, in so far as this affects the employment relationship. This approval may not be withheld without valid reason.


6. Non-competition clause

No work may be carried out in the interests of a competing institution.


7. Business and banking secrecy

Employees are bound to secrecy vis-à-vis all parties with respect to information gained during the course of their duties at the bank. Employees must maintain absolute secrecy with respect to all business relations with customers of the bank. This confidentiality obligation will continue to apply after leaving the bank.


8. Safeguarding the interests of the customer

It is the duty of the employee to safeguard and represent the interests of all customers of the bank equally.


9. Gifts and benefits

Employees may not accept gifts or receive any benefits in connection with their professional activities if to do so would violate their duty to represent the interests of all customers of the bank equally under Art. 8 of the conditions of employment for bank employees or if they or persons close to them would gain direct or indirect advantages as a result.


10. Personal transactions

Employees are essentially treated on an equal basis with the customers of the bank for the purpose of their own banking transactions. Personal transactions must be in reasonable proportion to the employee’s financial situation and must not place excessive demands on their time. The bank shall list prohibited proprietary transactions and groups of employees affected in an internal regulation.


11. Further professional training

The bank supports the professional training and the competitiveness in the labour market of its employees, regardless of grade, age, nationality, gender or degree of seniority...The bank determines the working hours to be apportioned and a possible contribution to costs for competence development measures and continuing training.


12. Introduction of new technologies

When new technology is introduced, the bank defines new procedures in a forward-looking manner. To this end, it organises the necessary training, taking the existing competences of employees into account. In so doing, it helps improve motivation at the workplace and job satisfaction. New work procedures are to be introduced and training conducted in a careful and thorough manner. In the course of this, the function of the working area and its relation to the bank’s activities is to be explained. If an employee’s original duties can no longer be carried out after working procedures have been modified, the bank will make special efforts to assign equivalent alternative duties to employees prepared to accept such duties. Where it is likely that new technologies could impact health at the workplace, general or individual medical check-ups may be carried out.


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The Exercises


Identifying Passive Forms:

Looking at the underlined Passive Sentences in the contract above, look for an example of each of the following, and think about when and why they would be used; (the answers are below)

  1. a Passive sentence in Present Perfect form.

  2. a Passive sentence in Present Simple form.

  3. a Passive sentence with a modal verb to show permission. (may)

  4. a Passive sentence with a modal verb to show obligation. (must, should, is/are to be)

  5. a Passive sentence with a modal verb to show ability. (can):


Re-writing active sentences:

Re-write the following sentences into the correct Passive form: (the answers are below)

  1. Employees may not undertake any paid work for a third party without the bank’s permission.

  2. Employees must maintain absolute secrecy with respect to all business relations with customers of the bank.

  3. Employees may not accept gifts.

  4. The bank shall list prohibited proprietary transactions and groups of employees affected in an internal regulation.

  5. The bank supports the professional training and the competitiveness in the labour market of its employees, regardless of grade, age, nationality, gender or degree of seniority...


Writing your own contract:

  1. Write 4-5 examples of passive sentences that could describe the contents of your job description. i.e. teachers are expected to arrive to lessons on time. Invoices are to be submitted before the middle of the calendar month.

  2. Think of a type of contract that you would have with somebody within your profession, for example on an invoice, or related to the delivery of good. Can you write 4-5 examples sentences that could be used in this type of contract.

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The Answers


Identifying Passive Forms:

  1. a Passive sentence in Present Perfect form: after working procedures have been modified.

  2. a Passive sentence in Present Simple form: Employees are required to devote their professional activities exclusively to the bank.

  3. a Passive sentence with a modal verb to show permission. (may): medical check-ups may be carried out.

  4. a Passive sentence with a modal verb to show obligation. (must, should, is/are to be): The bank’s consent is to be sought in advance by employees wishing to perform functions in a professional association.

  5. a Passive sentence with a modal verb to show ability. (can): If an employee’s original duties can no longer be carried out


Re-writing active sentences:

Re-write the following sentences into the correct Passive form: (the answers are below)

  1. Paid work for a third party may not be undertaken without the bank’s permission.

  2. Absolute secrecy with respect to all business relations with customers of the bank must be maintained.

  3. gifts may not be accepted.

  4. Prohibited proprietary transactions and groups of employees affected in an internal regulation shall be listed.

  5. The professional training and the competitiveness in the labour market of its employees, regardless of grade, age, nationality, gender or degree of seniority is supported.

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