Question 1. Employment Relationships “In the context of employee relations explain what is meant by the employment relationship, and outline how it has changed over the years. Please give reasons why this might have been. ”Employment relationship is a term that refers to the legal notion used by various nations in explaining the relationship between employers and employees. This relationship exists when the employees work under given conditions and in return for remuneration. According to ILO (2006), it is through the employment relationship that various rights and obligations are created between the employer and the employees.
ILO (2006) regards it as a key point of reference for the determination of the nature and extent of the rights and obligations associated with employment in areas of social security and labour law. Changes in the World Bank and particularly in the labour market have led to the rise of new forms of employee relationship. Deery (1999) adds that the government interventions in legal and institutional frameworks for the labour relation have eroded the application of collective norms to employment relationship and the regulatory role of the individual tribunals.
The individualization of employment relations occurred due to various factors. Deery (1999) notes that during the 1980s and 1990s there was a rapid development of individualization due to the vigorous challenges that the successive conservative governments had on the legitimacy of the trade unions. Countries such as the Britain remove d the most of the statutory and administrating supports for collective bargaining (Herriot 2002). Similarly, in New Zealand, there was a dramatic shift away from the collectivist industrial relations as imposed by the New Zealand Employment Contracts Act 1991 which removed the long-standing system of arbitration and conciliation based on trade union representation and replaced it with a framework that emphasized on individual employment contracts (ILO 2006).
This resulted into a decline in the trade union membership and a collapse in the collective determination of working conditions and wages. Although the individualization of employee relationship has been slower in Australia, the passage of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 created a concerted move towards decollectivizing the Australian industrial relations. The earlier legislative efforts by conservative state governments in victoria, Queensland and Western Australia succeeded in introducing more individualized system of employment arrangement.
Also, the union membership for this country declined as from the mid 1980s. Generally, the governments have played a major role in facilitating and encouraging the development of individualization as a policy in employment relations. Herriot (2002) explains that the growth of individualization in the employment relations is due to interrelated factors. First, he argues that during the 1980s and 1990s, there was aggressive assertion of managerial rights which coincided with a period of rapid global economic restructuring.
The pursuit of labour flexibility gave a rationale for greater unilateralism and the lack of effective opposition from trade unions weakened their membership base and thus making it easier for employers to press for procedural individualization. The presence of a more facilitative political climate in the 1980s and 1990s also favored the individualization process. Both Social Democratic and Conservative parties in Europe and Australasia adopted a more free market and deregulatory approaches to government policy making hence deinstitutionalizing the determination of working conditions and wages. This provided employers with a greater discretion on employment issues.