Branch of law which regulates the performance of human work for another person in a position of legal subordination to them. The individual who performs the work is referred to as an employee, and the natural or legal person for whom and under whose direction the work is performed is referred to as an employer. Labour law in the private sector (for the public sector, see public service) is customarily divided into individual labour or employment law and collective labour law.
Individual labour or employment law is the area of labour law which governs legal relations between the individual employee and individual employer. It therefore encompasses all those legal provisions which relate to the creation and termination of the employment relationship (see contract of employment) and to the rights and obligations arising for employer and employee from that legal relationship.
Collective labour law, on the other hand, governs the following: the formation and activities of collective interest organizations (subdivision called Berufsverbandsrecht, i.e. collective interest organizations law); the organization, legal status and participation rights of workforce representative bodies at establishment, company and group level (subdivision called Betriebsverfassungsrecht, i.e. law on the works constitution); the preconditions for the conclusion of legally valid, collective normative agreements (especially collective agreements and works agreements) and their legal effects (subdivision called Kollektivvertrags- und Betriebsvereinbarungsrecht, i.e. law on collective agreements and works agreements); and the collective use of industrial action in order to press for shared aims in working life (subdivision called Arbeitskampfrecht, i.e. law on industrial disputes).
Although some authors regard law on employee protection (Arbeitnehmerschutzrecht) as a separate subdivision of labour law, prevailing opinion categorizes the legal provisions concerned (those directed at protecting employees' safety, health and moral well-being at work) as forming part of individual labour or employment law.
Please note: the European industrial relations glossaries were compiled between 1991 and 2003 and are not updated. For current material see the European industrial relations dictionary.