Employment law, or labour law, is a collection of laws, rulings and precedents that address the rights and restrictions of working people and their organisations. It encompasses all workplace-related matters, regulating the way in which employers, employees and trade unions interact.
The aspects covered by employment law are numerous, and range from employment contracts to dismissals. It can be divided into two broad categories – collective labour law and individual labour law. The former defines how employees, employers and trade unions relate, whilst the latter is more concerned with an employee’s rights at work. It is important that employers know their rights and obligations, but the same also applies to the employees. This helps to reduce the likelihood of disputes arising, as it should be easy to identify who is in the wrong, and why, resulting in any problems being resolved relatively quickly.
The purpose of employment law is to ensure fair treatment in the workplace, and prevent issues such as discrimination from occurring. Health and safety, working hours and the minimum wage are some of the other major aspects which are regulated by the labour law to ensure workers are treated suitably.
Employment law was initiated by employees demanding better working conditions and rights, and also employers who tried to restrict worker power and reduce labour costs as much as possible. This area of law was originally a reflection of the struggles between two aspects of society.