|The first section of this paper provides a general overview of the economic and social role played by the European micro and small enterprises. Topics analysed include a description of the enterprise structure in the European Union (EU) by enterprise size (number of enterprises, employment and turnover), with special attention to country/sector considerations. In addition, attention is paid to the employment characteristics within the EU micro and small enterprises (i.e. sex and age considerations, education levels, type of contracts, duration of employment relations, etc). Finally, a comparison between the role of EU micro and small enterprises in comparison to their US and Japanese counterparts will be held. The second section sets out to provide a definition of the ‘employment relations’ concept. The section also looks into the European Member States’ regulatory frameworks related to employment relations, always from an enterprise size perspective. Examples include legal provisions on staff representation, information and consultation to employees, employees’ participation within the supervisory and administrative bodies and, finally, legal provisions related to collective bargaining and strikes.
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