What is labor law?

Also called employment law, this important area of legislation covers the relationships between the government, employers, workers and their organizations – trade unions. It is usually divided into three main branches: collective labor law, individual labor law, and international labor law.

Postc1History and the reason behind labor law

When the Industrial Revolution changed the way people looked at labor and employment, workers needed to express their interests better in front of employers. That is when first workers unions were formed and when the government mediated between employers and workers and their opposing interests.

Soon enough, labor law saw its beginnings, regulating serious questions like child labor, working conditions, safety at work and much more. Workers needed a way to protect themselves from exploitation, while employers wanted to ensure predictable, flexible and cheap workforce. In short, labor laws work to find a balance between these two conflicting interests.

Postc2Individual labor law

This area of labor law covers issues which concern the worker as an individual. It covers many important institutions which evolved during the years and made the position of the worker much easier. Individual labor law regulates employment terms, such as an employment contract and its integral parts. These include, for example, wages, holidays, compensation, illness rights, job description, an event of dismissal and much more.

Important institutions of individual labor law are the minimum wage and the 8 hour work day. These came after a long struggle of the working people to ensure better working conditions. Most of the labour laws around the world define a minimum wage that a worker can be paid. It is a way to correct the labor market which also works based on supply and demand. The eight-hour workday and the 40 hour week also came as a result of decades of progression in labor law. Most of the countries around the world define the work week as 40 work hours long.

Other important segments of individual labor law concern health and safety, issues of discrimination and dismissal and prohibition of child labor.

Postc3Collective labor law

The defining feature of this is of labor law are the trade unions based on freedom of association. These are worker’s organizations, groups of workers which have the power to engage in collective bargainings. The other side in the bargains are the employers, of course. Trade unions came up as a way to ensure that workers have better bargaining power and that they have means to resist the much stronger position of the employers.

Postc4Collective labor law defines trade unions, collective bargaining, workplace participation, collective action, the right to strike and much more.

International labor law

This area of labor law regulates the work of international organizations dedicated to the protection of workers’ interests. These organizations include the Internation Labour Organization, the World Trade Organization, and others.It also regulates the questions concerning working in multiple countries and conflicts of labor laws, questions of jurisdiction and labor markets.