Labour rights

Luke Mason

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Labour rights can be understood as those parts of law which grant workers, whether individually or collectively, particular entitlements connected to their employment, or by virtue of their status as workers. These rights are often connected to their terms of employment and how those terms are negotiated, in particular through mechanisms of collective bargaining and the role of trade ? unions. Paradigmatic examples of labour rights attached to the individual worker might include guarantees of fair and safe conditions of work, the prohibition of certain forms of ? discrimination, and protections against unjustified dismissal. Collective labour rights include the right to ? freedom of association, in particular in relation to trade unions, the right to bargain collectively, and the right to strike. Such collective rights might belong to individual workers, or to collective organizations, in particular trade unions, themselves. Labour rights are an aspect of a broader field of law, labour law, which emerged in many countries in the 19th century and early 20th century. Labour law was, and is, primarily concerned with the regulation of the terms of work according to different principles from those which apply to ordinary commercial contracts. The primary function of labour rights to guarantee certain minimum standards and other entitlements for workers. In many legal traditions, the emergence and idea of labour rights are intrinsically linked to organized labour and the trade union movement, and this is recognized in many constitutional systems through the institutionalization of representatives of workers and employers in ?pluralist? pseudo-legislative structures which are charged with the production of the norms which govern certain aspects of employment. Much legislation in the field of labour law in many legal systems is developed within ordinary legislation rather than at constitutional level, however labour rights and constitutions interact in a series of ways. This entry is concerned primarily with the relationship between labour rights and constitutions and/or constitutional law, rather than focusing labour rights more generally within different constitutional orders. The relationship between labour rights and constitutional law is often a complex one for a variety of reasons. There are several distinct but connected tendencies in the relationship between labour rights and constitutional law. The most obvious and visible connection is the placing of different types of labour rights within constitutional documents and the emergence of certain labour rights as ?constitutional? in status, phenomena which themselves have numerous distinct variations across history and between jurisdictions. A second important relationship between labour rights and constitutional law is the tension between certain labour rights and other entrenched constitutional values or fundamental rights within the same legal order, a tension which has sometimes resulted in jurisprudence regarding the constitutional legality of certain labour rights. Thirdly, there is the application in certain legal systems of other constitutional rights or values to the employment relationship, sometimes through their ? horizontal application to private law employment relationships with a consequent impact on the content of labour rights or their entrenched status.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMax Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law [MPECCoL]
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 31 May 2018


    Dive into the research topics of 'Labour rights'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this