The (Changing?) Idea of Labour Law
15 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2007
Regulations of employment relations are constantly under threat from governments favouring "free markets" and from the pressures of global competition. The aim of this short essay is to defend the enterprise known as labour law by examining its justifications. I start by describing the traditional justification, which is based on the concept of unequal bargaining power, and on the understanding that there is a trade-off between equity and efficiency. I then describe the "updated" story, a more sophisticated view put forward by a number of scholars, which explains that labour laws could also be useful in correcting market failures. Finally, I critically consider some new challenges, recently mounted by labour law scholars, which renounce redistribution as one of labour law's major goals. I argue that the "old" ideas of labour laws are still relevant and should be defended. Indeed, workers need the protection of the law even more than before. We should be wary of any attempt to undermine this enterprise, including (and perhaps especially) attempts from within.
Keywords: labour law, labor law, employment law, redistribution, uneuqal bargaining power
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