The Employment guide provides expert legal commentary on key issues for businesses. The guide covers the important developments in the most significant jurisdictions.
Last Updated November 27, 2018
The late professor Roger Blanpain consistently started his courses on employment law at the University of Leuven with the statement “labour relations are relations of power”.
In such relations with two parties, one party is always the stronger and the other is the weaker. In employment relations the employer, giving work, is the stronger party, with the employee, rendering services against remuneration, being the weaker party.
Employment law is designed as the instrument to protect the weaker party against the [arbitrary discretion] of the stronger party. At first, this protection focused essentially on the individual relationship. Early 20th century focus also (started to) switch to the collective relationship: union representation of the employees, co-determination, etc.
Employment laws are, almost by definition, national laws: their scope of application is defined by the national borders. Consequently, they may differ distinctly from one country to another, from one culture to another. One legal scholar found that, “at the risk of over-simplifying often complex realities […] a distinction can be drawn between the European and the Anglo-Saxon models of labour laws”. He established that the European model framing employee protection takes an approach that is “individual rights” driven whereas the Anglo-Saxon model rather “seeks to address the problem associated with the lack of individual bargaining equality at a higher, viz collective level”.
The different approach based on national culture and heritage also is apparent in a combined market like the European Union. Although the European Union is competent to impose social principles throughout the European Union, it is always up to the individual Member States to implement these principles in their national law. This often results in different practical implementations in local laws, like the TUPE directive.
In a world which has become much more global, where cross-border relationships, acquisitions, etc, have become standard practice, it is crucial to have sufficient insight into the local employment laws which can have an impact on the situation. That is why a comparative view on the local employment laws is essential in international relations.
This chapter, using an outline template review country by country spread across the Globe (36 countries), describes the nature and scope of the legal framework governing the employment relationship. The outline covers not just the typical topics for employment professionals, such as wages, benefits and health benefits laws, but also regulations more broadly affecting organisations, such as union organisation, immigration and the aforementioned data privacy and retaliation restrictions.