US & UK Law Systems
- Changed to ‘Background to UK Employment Law’
According to Wikipedia, law is ‘the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political and social authority, and deliver justice.
In other words, one of the reasons for having a system of law is to provide protection to the citizens of the country and to uphold their rights. There are many areas in which this is relevant. Examples include protecting an individual’s property or reputation or helping to obtain compensation for damage caused, such as in medical negligence cases. Another important area of protection is in the area of employment and employment rights.
Laws relating to employment in United Kingdom have their origins as far back as the 14th century when King Edward III tried to impose wage restrictions as a result of a shortage of workers, which in turn was caused by the Black Death epidemic in England.
The inspiration for many modern employment laws was the protests of workers and demands for better working conditions. The early employee focused laws centred on the rights of workers to organise together, in what would now be called trade unions. In the United States meanwhile, employment laws were introduced much later. One of the first to be introduced was the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which set a limit of 44 hours on the maximum number of hours that employees were required to work per week.
Over time, this body of law evolved to cover many areas of the workplace. Today, workers have rights to protect against discrimination on a number of grounds: race, religion or belief, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, age, pregnancy and maternity. The relevant UK laws were updated recently with the introduction of the Equality Act, 2010.
Employment law also covers a number of other areas such as unfair dismissal, working time, redundancy, discipline and grievance procedures, temporary workers, whistleblowing and recognition of trade unions.
There is a structured system in place in United Kingdom to hear cases relating to employment law. In all cases it is very much recommended to seek advice and guidance from a qualified person such as a trade union representative or an employment lawyer. This person will be best placed to listen to your case and explain the options available to you.