Essay on Labour Law

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Labour law also known as employment law deals with the body of laws, administrative rulings and precedents which addresses the legal rights of and restrictions on working people and their organizations1. The direct function of labour law is that it deals with the rules governing employment relationship. Labour law functions through the role accorded by common law, legislation and is helped also by the extra legal sources such as the customs and collective bargaining. Labour law is divided in to two broad categories namely collective and individual labour law. Collective labour law deals with the relationship concerning employer, employee and the trade unions, however the individual labour law deals with the rights of employees contact and his rights at work. One of the oldest modes which worked through in establishing a relationship between employer and employee was collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is the process of negotiation between an employer or employers and trade union. Collective bargaining produce agreed agreements which state the terms and conditions which would govern the employer and employee relationship. In Britain the legislation itself played a very limited role in determining the employment relationship hence extra legal sources such as collective bargaining had been utilized. As in 1954 Kahn-Freund stated that there had been no major country in the world in which law has played a less significant role regarding labour management relationship then in Britain2. However during the periods of 1950s the state itself supported employment agreements through sources such as collective bargaining. However due to this uncertainty created extra legal measures a need for a change was required to govern the process relating to the relationship of the employment contracts. Further as well with respect to paid annual laves there was no law which governed it however paid leaves were determined by individual employment contracts. First and initial steps regarding this issue was taken up by the European community in 1973 in which commission proposed to fix four weeks annual paid holidays. However a draft on reduction and reorganization of working time was presented by the commission to the council in 1983. However the draft failed to be approved as it required a unanimous vote and united kingdom disagreed with the proposal. Further as well in 1988 the economic and social committee debated upon the rights which each and every member state should guarantee. Among these proposed rights were the right to paid annual leave which a worker must have in the member states. After further debate a 13 point draft was proposed in which it was also stated that every worker in the member state shall have a right for annual paid leave. But yet again United Kingdom was the only country which was against it. Hence an amendment to the draft was made and now an eleven point draft was presented by the commission in 1989 which also stated that every worker in the member state shall have a right to paid annual leave.

Pursuant to this the council adopted the working time directive in 1993 under the procedure listed under art 118(a) now art 137, which required a qualifying majority in the council. The Working time directive set to implement the health and safety measures with respect to paid annual holiday leave. Initially UK did not adopt the directive and it was followed with litigation to European Court of Justice. In United Kingdom v Council the ecj rejected united kingdoms argument over the validity of the directive and it was held that it be justified as a health and safety measure under art 118a and hence the procedure for qualified majority applied However the working time directive had to be adopted by November 1999. Art 7 (1) of the directive stated that the “member state shall take measures to ensure that the worker is entitled to at least four weeks of annual paid holiday”. But even after losing the litigation process in...
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