Indeterminacy Of Employment Relations And Statutory Trade Union Recognition

Factors impacting employment relations

1. Employment relations in the framework of employment laws is the connection that the employers and the employees share bringing in to factorize their individual capacity to sell the labour (Brunn et al. 2017). The relationship between the employers and the employee are ensured by the marketplace and therefore the labour market has a very significant role to play in that regard. There are contracts that govern the relationships and they emanate from a trade union or in cases of any understanding of the understandings and the expectations of the labour force. Though the employment varies from one state to another and different regions follow different kind of rules and regulations, there is a universal application of the models that govern the relationships of the employer and the employee (Tan 2015).  

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The factors that impact employment relationships are the interests of the employers and the employees and the role that the state plays in regulating the interests of the parties. Employee shall be defined as a person who is selling his labour and anyone falling into the definition of selling labour, shall be considered an employee, including the supervisory, executive and the managerial employees. Employer, on the other hand, is defined as the one who is capitalizing on that labour (Ehrenberg and Smith 2016). The employer shall be the buyer of that labour that the employee is selling. They are the owners of the private as well as both profit and non-profit organizations. The employers also play the role of an agent as they are in the position to manage their employees, at the same time being responsible to the management (Braunerhjelm, Ding and Thulin 2018). From the point of pure economic dynamics, it is defined as a central and thematic approach to maximize the utility from the resources that is available to him.  The concept of homo economicus shall apply that will consider the utility, the self-interest and the optimal decision making skills (Goffee and Scase 2015). The employees are assumed to be driven by rewards and incentives and they are entitled to the gross concept of fairness and equity. The other determinant in the relationship is the state and he is considered to be an important factor in the whole employment equation. They perform the role of regulation and they attract both employment laws as well as individual labour laws. The work councils, unions, the associations come under the purview of the state regulation (Greenwood and Van Buren 2017).

Comparison of unitarist and pluralist approaches

The unitarist employment relationship perceives the employees as psychological beings and they are closely associated with the role of a scholar in a human resource management set up. The employees work towards seeking love, attention, self-worth and esteem and they are satisfied once their security needs are met (Greenwood and Van Buren 2017). The employees respond well to strategic management and the market being imperfectly competitive, they work towards the actualization of extrinsic rewards. It is called a unitarist model as the employers and the employees share a unitarist relationship of employment. Therefore, it is essential to point that the strategies should be such that they match the interests of the employers and the employees. It is a long term relation of partnership and the employers and the employees shall have a common interest to satisfy their internal goals and needs (Haase and Raufflet 2017).

The pluralist employment relationship rejects the notion that employees are commodities and the theory accepts that employees are psychological and complex beings who are humans and have a voice as well as are driven by equity (Siebert et al. 2015). The relationship that the employers and the employees share are very conflicting as well as they have a good mix of common grounds too. The conflicts are mostly in the terms of wage, safety, flexibility etc. this kind of relationship between the employer and the employee as found in both industrial as well as labour economics (Edwards 2017). The goal of the pluralist model is to combine the interests of the employers and employees and reach a common goal of equity, trust and fairness with the help of the labour unions. The difference between the two models is that the unitarist model views conflict as an impediment to growth, whereas the pluralist model views this as a natural and healthy phenomenon which needs to worked on (Martin, Farndale and Paauwe 2016).

2. The employer and the employee are governed by the equation of selling labour and capitalization on that labour. The terms and the conditions prevalent to the relationship between the two is enumerated and laid down in the contract that governs the relationship of an employer and an employee (Freedland et al 2016). Employers and Employees have relationships that are mutual of give and take and the expectations of the employment are held in a contract. The contract is binding on both the parties and these are in a written form where the terms of the contract are explicitly written down. The major roles that they assume are mentioned in the contract. The professionals, the managers, the strategists are all part of the employment relationship and they are prime examples of employees governed by the employment contract. Another example of a contract that guides the workers in a workplace is an employee handbook (. Every country has their own laws regarding employment and in some countries employment contracts are held to be enforceable whereas some countries do not recognize employment contracts as legally binding. If the contract does not specify all the details regarding the roles, expectations of the employees, it shall not be considered legal (Sanders and Countouris 2016). Therefore, it is generally perceived that the employment contracts are informal contracts which have a social and a psychological purport. These contracts also carry an economic value. A written contract is formal in nature and is easily enforceable as all the terms of the contract are explicit. In cases of an informal contract, there are certain informal terms that lead to informal agreement terms (Dos Santos and Ege 2018). In such cases of contracts, the corporate policies are not clearly laid down and therefore it become difficult to be laid down. Contracts which have implicit terms are mostly self-enforcing. In some cases, a contract is also termed as a psychological contract as they uphold the mutual obligations of the parties. The employment relationship also enhances a tactic agreement where the fairness and respect of the employers and the employees. The psychological contracts focus on the mutual interests of the parties and they value the fairness, dignity and the status of the parties (Countouris 2016).

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Overview of employment law in the UK

There are mostly three sources of employment law in the United Kingdom- the common law, the European Directives and the decisions laid down by the European Court of Justice and the statues. Under the common law, there is a contract of employment where the rights of the employers and the employees are laid down (Barnard and Peers 2016). These contracts are written in nature and they give statutory protection in cases of breach of the contract. There are statutes that govern the employment relationships, namely, Equal Pay Act 1970, Data Protection Act 1998, Employment Act 2002, Employment Relations Act 2004 etc. there are some secondary legislations that compliment the primary instruments and the EC Treaty obligations bind the UK domestic laws which determine matters related to discrimination, flexibility, age, business. The methods of dispute resolution are found in the UK forums, like the Employment Tribunals, the Common Law Courts and the ACAS Arbitration Scheme (Taylor and Emir 2015). 

The EU directives mandate and guide the employment laws which bind the Member States. The EU directives ensure that there is equal treatment and no discrimination (Whish and Bailey 2015). The Directives followed in the EU are for the benefit of the employers and also maintaining a proper equation of the employer and the employee. The legislations aim at reducing the discrimination as well as the equal treatment of men and women in the workplace (Barnard 2014). There are other legislations too, which aim at organizing a time and ensuring that there is a balance of the time spent in the workplace and the remuneration of the same.

3. Statutory recognition of trade union in the United Kingdom

The Employment Relations Act, 1999 help in the recognition of trade union in the United Kingdom. These Acts offer a very strong and substantial ground to ensure that trade unions get a legal status as well as a recognition (Hall et al 2015). The Trade Union helps in advancing the interests of the workers as well as resolving the conflicts that take place in a working environment. The function of the trade union is to reach at an agreement through collective bargaining. The Trade Unions are still considered one of the most important forms of resolving disputes (Gall 2014). The issue that arises in cases of the recognition of the trade union, is that it becomes very difficult to bring the workers to the table so that they can strike a balance. Both statutory as well as voluntary recognition are seen as part of the trade union initiation (Goerke and Pannenberg 2015). Though it has been perceived that the Employment Relations Act, 1999 is a new light that is shedding on the trade union, but not much rights can be guaranteed by the provisions of the Act (Ibsen and Tapia 2017). The Trade Union is considered to be one of the most cogent ways to represent the interests of the employees and it is also treated as the best model to ensure that partnership is maintained at the work place (Bacon and Hoque 2015). The demands of the trade union range from small wage related issues to high demanding issues concerning grave national and international concerns (Humphrey 2017). Mostly, the trade union is seen to be that they are dealing with the legitimization of the grants of the Government and also dealing with matters related to rights and duties which are enforceable against the workers. The trade union importance has increased with the increase in the recognition of rights and it has been perceived that there is a downfall of the industrial agreements and also the unions have started to refuse to be abided by the workplace ethics. By ensuring that the unions follow the ethics of pay and hours that are the minimum requirements, it can be stated that the procedural rights of the union as well as their substantive rights can be taken on high interest priority (Vulkan and Larsson 2018). The union representation represents the interests of the parties on individual level as well as the collective interests of the union as a whole. There are individual agreements that address specific issues related to construction, electricity etc, but the entire concept of union agreements as a whole have deluded. As a result, it can be seen that only some parts of the agreement holds true for the unions and also only a handful of people are governed by the agreements, which can be stated to be a minority of the British population (Howell 2015).

Sources of employment law in the UK

There are no recognized rights of the individuals based on which the enterprise can begin with collective bargaining. The law of the land does not emphasize on the recognition of any collective rights to be written in formal writing format. The moment there is a recognition of the rights of the unions, there is a shift to the disciplinary procedure that is followed by the law and they start to recognize the union as a redress mechanism body. These are considered to be strictly formal methods that help in recognizing the entitlement of a union and they take it upon themselves to deal with matters related to bargaining and representation. Collective bargaining is not a black and white situation, but is a forum of negotiation where the depth of the trade union is checked against the recognition of the rights of the union as well as issue on which the bargaining is proposed. Therefore, the moment the employee recognizes the importance of the recognition, it becomes easy to perceive the purpose that bargain is supposed to serve. After getting bound by the obligations, the employees understand that they become a subset of the union and therefore they are inevitably bound by the obligations .

4. Employee involvement is a term used to denote the opportunities and the resources that are taken into consideration by an employee which have an impact on the work of the employee. The involvement can have a direct effect on the task which is at hand immediately or in cases of wider company related issues. This involvement can be done both indirectly as well as directly. In cases of indirect participation, the involvement is done with the help of representatives who put forward their ideas and propositions. This mostly happens in cases of trade unions or in cases of councils which are headed by the workers. Employee involvement is mostly done in an individual capacity so as to influence the decisions of the individuals. This is keeping in line the principles of direct participation and to help grow high performance (Wallace 2016). The key determinants of employee involvement is the flexibility of working hours, the nature of the task, and the nature of the ownership that exists. The resultant effect of employee involvement is that it helps in learning new techniques and opportunities in the workplace, improves employee motivation as well as helps in the well-being of the employees.  

Methods of dispute resolution in the UK

Employee involvement helps in resolving a varied range of topics and their strength is found in their art of articulating and putting forward the claims and the grievances of the employees. The independent participation is for the purpose of ensuring that the individual workers come ahead with their problems and issues which they want to resolve. On the other hand, the employment involvement helps in initiating conversation where the employers and the employees can find a common ground where the issues are brought on the table and the problems can be dealt with. The solution to every problem may not be reached and there is a scope that the employees will not be satisfied with the solution they get, In such cases, they can come forward with a representative where the representative shall look into the matters and then communicate on a collective ground (Saundry et al 2016). The union will help in setting up a collective communication framework that will follow the pattern of consultation along with powers to make joint decisions. The consultation will span over a scheme where the problems can be mitigated and the strength of the worker’s union will be assessed.

Employees form the most important aspect of an organizational set up and with the coming together of employees and employers, production can be boosted. With the harnessing of human potential, there are more chances of getting successful in a business set up. To reach maximum potential and also to convert human resource into successful production, employee voice is very essential. In cases when the employee is dissatisfied with the workplace environment, or has some grievances, he can always make the point of being unsatisfied.  The employee shall always have the power and the right to make their grievances known to the management and they should not run away from the problems. These voices help in reducing the pressure at workplace and also delimits the negative impact of an unsatisfied worker. If the worker is not happy, it will result in his work and the company will bear the brunt of the mood of the employee and therefore it shall be the sole responsibility of the employer to make sure that they come up with solutions to solve the problems that is plaguing the workplace.  The employee’s voice will have a direct impact on the organizational capacity and the agility of the work force. If the employee can communicate freely, in such cases, the HR will be in the loop. The aim of the organization should be to enhance the policies of retention so that employees do not leave the job or quit midway (Frangi, Noh and Hebdon 2018). Therefore, it is important to create an atmosphere where the employees are free to put their point across.

Statutory recognition of trade unions in the UK

5. There are some tensions that keep cropping up at workplace and it affects the working of the organization. There is a difference between conflict in a company and the resultant misbehavior.  Every organization has some core principles and ethics that they follow and they become responsible for the conduct of the employees working under them. All the people working in a company need to abide by those principles and if they do not, they need to give proper justifications for the same (Johansson 2016). The company reserves all the powers to terminate an employee if he does not abide by the rules and has failed to comply by them, even if they have been asked to fall in line. Misbehavior is defined as any intentional behavior or action which is not acceptable by the company. If the employees do not abide by those rules, the organization shall deal with strictly. Therefore, there are situations when the unreasonable actions of employees cannot be ignored and they are also seen to be involved in unlawful acts like sabotage, harassment, and misappropriations of goods or stealing. In such cases, the company is not in any place to negotiate and has to take strict actions. Organization misbehavior can be categorized depending on the intention of the wrongdoer and the extent of the wrong that has been committed. The Type S misbehavior is defined as the misbehavior that does not affect the company, like stealing. In such cases, only the individual is benefitted. The Type O is done when the organization benefits along with the individual, that is, in cases of cheating the government. These happen when the misbehavior is with the intention of defrauding a third party. Type D is done with the intention of causing hurt and damage to property or to any other third party.

Conflict is not an individual scenario and it is done when there is a difference of opinion. Conflicts are very natural and they happen at workplaces because people from different backgrounds come together and are made to adapt to the governing rules of the organization. The employees come with expectations and they work towards meeting the goals of the employers. The conflicts can result in war, or fights and sometimes even in the decrease of the efforts to work in a peaceful environment. In any workplace, conflict can be defined as a disagreement that can take place among the workers or the employer and the employee. Sometimes the conflict can also take the form of personal disagreements and can also lead to personal clashes.

Role of trade unions in resolving workplace conflicts

There is a difference between official and unofficial industrial actions. The actions that are initiated by the union shall be called an official action while the ones that are done without any official authorization, it will be considered unofficial. An official action will be one which has been endorsed by the union and therefore has a legitimate claim in the dispute resolution. On the other hand, the actions which are done without the active endorsement of the union shall be considered unofficial. The unofficial actions do not get any protection. The unofficial actions are not supported by the unions and therefore any action which is taken without their help, it shall be considered unlawful. If a trade union asks an employee to breach the terms of the contract and the union can give proper justification for the same, it shall not be claimed to be unlawful. Such actions initiated by the union shall be held to be protected.

6. Managing the conflict of the employers at workplace has become a very important situation that needs to be taken into account while dealing at a workplace. There are both collective as well as individual conflicts that are arising due to the issues surrounding unsatisfactory behavior received by employers. There is also a sharp rise in the number of conflicts that are resulting in litigation. The laws have become very serious regarding the implementation of policies that criminalize harassment as well as discrimination of any kind. The legal framework is with the intention of ensuring that there is fairness in the system and that the forum is set against people who make discriminating remarks or indulge in any cases of bullying (Flaherty and Reaume 2017). The line managers have a lot of responsibility and it is their duty to ensure that the people working in a corporate sector do not face any discrimination and that the tribunals as well as the dispute resolution cells are for the best interest of the employees. There are numerous workplace disputes that need to be solved and they can be done with the help of active participation of the line managers. It is the sole responsibility of the line managers to create a situation where the employers are made accountable for any unlawful activity that happens in their presence. Lawfully, the managers have to be responsible and the onus of the responsibility of the company is one the line managers. Grievances at workplace happen because of conflicting emotions and also because the employees remain dissatisfied with the working of the administration. The aim of the management should be to reduce all conflicts and also promote a situation where the conflicts can be resolved as well as the employees feel safe in the working environment.

The methods that have been applied to resolve conflict have been far ranging from court room litigation to other methods of dispute resolution like negotiation, mitigation and arbitration. The conflicts have increased manifold along with the need to move the court for dispute resolution. The disputes are varied in their nature. The aim of the organizations is to resolve all disputes and also learn ways to deal with situations arising out of grave conflicts. The corporations are moving towards resolving conflicts out of court and they can do so by applying the third party negotiations. The alternative dispute resolution systems are cost effective and are also not time consuming like court litigations. The other ways to resolve disputes is to ensure that these matters do not reach the trial and the disputes are resolved with the help of mediation.

Mediation is the process of arriving at a solution with the help of the intervention of a third party that helps the parties to the conflict to reach an agreeable and amicable solution. Arbitration on the other hand acts as a substitute for public trial where there is no need to go to a court to reach a solution. The decision that comes out of an arbitration is binding on the parties. The concepts of mediation, arbitration and negotiation are very different and they all believe in the intervention of a mediator. An organization believes in amicable settlement of their disputes and therefore they work towards ensuring that it opens a wide array of business situations. Arbitration is considered to be the most important way to resolve dispute and the purpose is to give a solution to a party at a very minimum cost. Third party conciliation is not similar to mediation in the way it functions as conciliation is termed as an out of court dispute settlement procedure. The process of third party conciliation is essential as it maintains privacy as well as flexibility which harbors on the element of neutrality.


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The Employment Relations Act, 1999

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