Employment law came about due to the demands of workers to have better working conditions and to have the right to organize. Alternately, employers wanted to restrict the powers of workers in order to keep labor costs low.
Employers’ costs can increase when workers organize to win higher wages. Also, laws imposing costly requirements such as health and safety or equal opportunity conditions will dramatically increase their costs.
The state of employment law at any one time is therefore both the product of, and a component of, struggles between the employer and employee.
The contract of employment is the most basic feature of common employment law. This governs the employee and employer relationship in order to facilitate a fluid labor market. When an employee is hired, the essential terms are given to the employee. These must specify in concrete terms the hours to be worked, the term of wages, holiday rights, notice in the event of dismissal, job description and so on.
Common employment law also concerns the three-way relationship between employer, employee and trade unions. Trade unions, or labor unions, were formed to allow the employees to organize in order to protect their rights as a group. Trade unions must also follow particular procedures before taking certain actions such as strikes, pickets as well as workplace involvement.
Other areas employment law is involved with is Health and Safety, Anti-discrimination, Unfair dismissal and Child labor.
The earliest Health and Safety laws went into effect in 1802 to protect children working in English factories.
The Anti-discrimination law means that discrimination against employees is morally unacceptable and illegal. In particular, racial discrimination and sexist discrimination is not allowed.
The Unfair dismissal law protects employees by guaranteeing that they “can’t be fired without any legitimate motive” and “before offering him the possibility to defend himself”.
Child labor is the employment of children under an age determined by law or custom. This practice is considered exploitative and was not actually seen as a problem throughout most of history. It has only become a disputed issue with the beginning of universal schooling which brought about the concepts of children’s rights.
As you can see, there are many rules, regulations and requirements provided by employment law. Throughout history it has always been a struggle between employer and employee that still continues today.