UK Employment Legislation
Labour law has been defined as the set of rules, regulations, and procedures that seek to regulate the work environment. This can be accomplished only through the presence of comprehensive and broad legislation. United Kingdom labour law comprises a set of uniform and consistent rules and regulations that help to govern the privileges and duties of employers and employees. The evolution of labour law has been due to a number of external and internal forces. Current legislation has been passed and approved through the Acts of Parliament. The Employment Rights Act 1996 and Employment Act 2002 are the major legal statutes that help to safeguard the interests of employers and employees. UK labour law has universal application and jurisdiction across the entire country. This research paper will seek to assess and evaluate the legal framework that helps to safeguard the rights of employees and employers.
Labour was akin to serfdom in the United Kingdom before the industrial revolution. The huge proliferation of industries led to the rudimentary forms of labour law. These laws allowed workers to organize themselves around trade unions. It gave rise to the concept of collective bargaining. However the power and clout of the unions was still limited due to the hostility of industrial owners. The Factory and Workshop Act of 1901 called for the protection of workers from unsanitary and unhygienic working conditions. Subsequently several laws were passed which slowly helped to define labour law. The overall aim and objective of labour law is to protect the rights and privileges of employers and employees (Basu, 2003: Pg 123). It seeks to create a legal framework that would prevent the rise of disputes and conflicts. Labour law in the United Kingdom helps to devise clear and precise instructions about the entire work process. Employers seek to prevent costs that occur due to employee disputes and strikes. Employees are concerned with ensuring the creation of satisfactory working conditions and wages.
Employment Rights Act 1996
The Employment Rights Act of 1996 helps to preserve the interests of employees. It is specifically concerned with the privileges that employees can enjoy inside the work environment. They are safeguarded from unjust discharge. Fair dismissal is considered in cases where the employee is unproductive, retiring, or neglecting duties. The ERA stipulates that employees have the right to access an employment tribunal to challenge unfair dismissals. The employer should also give at least one week notice for terminating an employee. The ERA provides a powerful framework to safeguard the interests of employees. It makes it mandatory for the employer to provide a written contract to the employee. This contract is filled with the terms and conditions that are made obligatory upon both sides (Bernard, 2000: Pg 45). Flexible working hours can be negotiated by the employees by providing valid and appropriate reasons. The ERA provides a powerful and comprehensive framework for employees. It enables them to negotiate excellent terms and conditions with the management. Such an approach has helped to resolve many problems that can be faced in the work environment. It helps to ensure harmony and flexibility in the work environment. An organization can enhance its performance and excellence by minimizing disruptions.
National wages constitute a serious issue for employees and employers. Labour law seeks to create minimum wages in order to ensure regularity and stability in the entire process. Minimum wages have become a recurrent phenomenon of labour laws in the developed world. The National Minimum Wage Act of 1998 helps to determine the standard wages for workers. According to current standards, £5.73 per hour is the minimum wage set by the government (Craig & Lynk, 2006: Pg 98). The Low Pay Commission is a national body which enforces that the rights of employees are protected and safeguarded under the provision. UK labour law stipulates that workers with income below a certain law can claim for tax exemptions. The aim of this provision was to fight social inequalities and disparities. Workers can be protected from employer abuse and exploitation through this legislation.
Another important issue which faces employers and employees are the working hours. Employers need to have adequate time for accomplishment of organizational targets and goals. Employees on the other hand require appropriate time to balance their personal and work related responsibilities (Davies, 2004: Pg145). The UK legal framework provides adequate protection for both sides. The eight hour a day schedule has been accepted and approved in the United Kingdom as per international standards. This framework has helped to resolve many ambiguities in the work process.
Contemporary society has been highly concerned about work environment discrimination and prejudice. There have been concerns that employers might attempt to manipulate and influence employees through discrimination and prejudice. The Equality Act of 2006 helps to prevent bias and partiality on any grounds. Employers are protected through these laws that help to define discrimination (Craig & Lynk, 2006: Pg 124). This can prevent unnecessary law suits filed by employees. Employers can also quickly move to terminate any individual that is engaged in discriminatory activity for personal gain. Genuine occupational requirements can be used by employees to hire specific employees. Employees are defended from racial, sexual, verbal, and physical harassment. They can contribute towards the development of the work place without the fear of any intimidation, coercion, or discrimination. UK anti discriminatory laws has evolved through the Acts of Parliament and European Law. However these laws have been criticized for a number of reasons. They have been unable to create a set of consistent and uniform guidelines. There are ambiguities in certain legal provisions. The definition of work place harassment has not been properly defined and described.
Occupational Safety and Health
Occupational safety and health is another major issue which faces employees and employers. UK employment legislation specifically targets occupational safety and health due to a number of reasons. Employees should be protected from work place injuries and fatalities. Employers can incur significant increases in costs due to unsafe working conditions. Huge sums of money can be paid by the employer in cases of health insurance. They need to safeguard their work environment in order to protect themselves from litigation. Employers have the moral duty to create a safe working environment for their employees. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is the standard legislation in the UK which helps to create congenial working conditions. The HSWA provides a powerful framework for creating safe work environment. Employers are given the responsibility of creating safe environment and facilities for employees. Some occupations might require the use of protective gear and equipment. This equipment should be provided by the employer (Dow, 2003: Pg 93). Similarly employees are given the responsibility of ensuring that their work process does not impact the health of fellow workers. Every worker should seek to implement efficient and effective work practices. The HSWA has been influenced by EU conventions on occupational safety and health. The EU has sought to create consistent and reliable guidelines for member states. The aim of legislation is to ensure that employees and employers can work together for the creation of an efficient and effective work environment.
In recent decades, there has been a heightened concern regarding the rights of employers and employees. Organizations seek to obtain compliance with labour law in order to avoid ambiguities during the process. A wide array of legislation exists in the United Kingdom to supervise and regulate the process of employment. The overall aim is to safeguard the interests of both employers and employees. The Employees Relations Act of 1996 is the main legal provision that enforces guidelines in the work environment. It provides specific rules and regulations to help secure the privileges and duties of employers and employees. UK labour law stipulates that employers must provide safe and congenial work environment. They should not engage in discriminatory practices towards their employees. Employees are enshrined with the responsibility of adequately performing their duties. They should work in an efficient and effective manner in order to improve performance and quality. UK labour law determines the working hours and minimum wages for employees. The overall aim of labour law is to ensure that work place disputes and conflicts can be prevented or reduced. It seeks to create a comprehensive framework that creates a balance between the rights and interests of employees and employers. The law has been evolving due to the influence of external and internal factors. In more recent times, EU legislation has exerted a strong influence on UK labour law. The EU has sought to create a set of minimum standards that need to be adhered by national governments. UK labour law will continue to evolve with the passage of time as new circumstances and challenges arise. Ambiguities in the current legislation will be removed or reduced through constant lobbying.
Basu, Kaushik, et al., eds. (2003). International Labour Standards: History, Theory and Policy Options. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Bernard, Catherine. (2000). EC Employment Law. New York: Oxford University Press, 3rd ed.
Craig, John D.R. and S. Michael Lynk, eds. (2006). Globalization and the Future of Labour Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
Davies, Anne C.L. (2004). Perspectives on Labour Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
Dow, Gregory K. (2003). Governing the Firm: Workers’ Control in Theory and Practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press