Labor and employment law is a type of law intended to control and mediate the relationships between employees, employers, labor unions and the government. Under labor law, there are a few separate categories:
- Collective labor law which concerns employees, employers and labor unions
- Individual labor law which concerns the rights of the employees
The history of labor law is fairly recent. Labor law first emerged during the Industrial Revolution as a result of the changing nature of production from small-scale to large-scale. This shift allowed employers to hire many more employees, however, the growth of production allowed for exploitation of workers. Enter, labor law. Employees wished to have better working conditions. Another issue that labor law was created to protect was child labor. As the Revolution progressed, laws were passed to limit the age group of children who could work, then eventually, eliminate child labor all together.
As previously mentioned, collective labor law mediates the relationship between employees, employers and labor unions. Terms of collective labor law are:
- Labor unions: collective labor law controls the participation or lack of participation of employees in a labor union or trade union. Some trades require that all workers be a member of the respective trade union, while some do not make participation mandatory.
- Workplace participation: a right that binds workers to participate in workplace management, such as elect the board of directors.
- Information and consultation: requires that employers inform employees of issues within the company
- Collective action: this describes the procedures required to legally start and participate a strike on the part of the employees
Individual labor law, as mentioned, concerns the rights of the employees as individuals. The terms of individual labor law include:
- Employment terms: the terms of employment under which the employee is hired, as legally confirmed by a contract.
- Minimum wage: this term defines the minimum amount of pay the worker can receive per hour of work.
- Living wage: this is designed to protect workers who are hired under full-time conditions and need to support a family
- Hours: the amount of hours a worker can work a day is defined in this section. This also ensures that workers who do go overtime receive suitable compensation.
- Health and safety
- Discrimination: concerning the presence of racial and gender discrimination
- Dismissal: this term defines the conditions under which an employee can fired and the compensation they receive as a result of this.
Many governments have specific and defined labor laws to protect the rights of all workers in their respective country. For example, in the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, with an amendment in 1950, sets standards that require an employee to work a maximum of 40 hours a week. This law applies to all citizens of the United States who are employed.