Employees, Workers and the Autonomy of Labour Law

26 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2000

See all articles by Paul L. Davies

Paul L. Davies

University of Oxford- Faculty of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Mark R. Freedland

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 1999


The question of which types of work contract fall within the ambit of labour law (the issue of the personal scope of labour law) is a crucial, foundational problem for employment lawyers. The distinction between, in common law terms, contracts of service and contracts for service or, in civil law terms, between subordinated and non-subordinated labour, is among the central questions which have puzzled labour lawyers. Apart from an overtly comparative perspective, however, our main concern in this paper, however, is to move beyond the dichotomy, which has tended to dominate earlier discussions, between contracts to which the whole of labour law applies, on the one hand, and contracts to which none of it applies, on the other, no matter how that line turns out to be drawn. We suggest that it is useful to look at a broad spectrum of contracts, including contracts for the performance of work by what everyone would agree are "the genuinely self-employed" and even contracts where the obligor, whilst contracting to have work done, has not contracted to do that work personally. The purpose of the investigation is to establish, at least in an initial and preliminary way, the extent to which techniques familiar to labour lawyers are used to regulate contracts which probably no-one would regard as contracts of service. We aim to indicate not only the extent of this practice but also to make suggestions about why it has developed. Since this is obviously a potentially vast field of enquiry, embracing as it does large areas of commercial law, we can here do no more than indicate an approach to the topic and apply that approach to a few selected areas of contracting for the performance of work.

Suggested Citation

Davies, Paul L. and Freedland, Mark R., Employees, Workers and the Autonomy of Labour Law (December 1999). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=204348 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.204348

Paul L. Davies (Contact Author)

University of Oxford- Faculty of Law ( email )

Harris Manchester College
Oxford, OX1 3TD
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org

Mark R. Freedland

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics