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The Employment Contract: From Collective Procedures To Individual Rights


  • William Brown
  • Simon Deakin
  • David Nash
  • Sarah Oxenbridge


The article analyses the institutional basis and form of the employment contract in Britain using the 1998 Workplace Employee Relations Survey. It assesses the extent to which collective bargaining still regulates pay and non-pay aspects of employment. The paper shows that while collective procedures have declined in importance, there has been an increase in legal governance of the employment relationship. Logistic regression analysis establishes that both contractual formalisation and legal compliance are greater in larger organisations and where trade unions are present. Trade union activity is also associated with superior fringe benefits. Collective bargaining thus appears to facilitate both access to and improvement on statutory rights.

Suggested Citation

  • William Brown & Simon Deakin & David Nash & Sarah Oxenbridge, 2000. "The Employment Contract: From Collective Procedures To Individual Rights," Working Papers wp171, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp171
    Note: PRO-2

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    Cited by:

    1. S Oxenbridge & S Deakin & W Brown & C Pratten, 2001. "Collective Employee Representation and the Impact of Law: Initial Response to the Employment Relations Act 1999," Working Papers wp206, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    2. Stephen Drinkwater & Peter Ingram, 2005. "Have Industrial Relations in the UK Really Improved?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 19(2), pages 373-398, June.
    3. Chikako Oka, 2016. "Improving Working Conditions in Garment Supply Chains: The Role of Unions in Cambodia," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 54(3), pages 647-672, September.
    4. W Brown & P Marginson & J Welsh, 2001. "The Management of Pay as the Influence of Collective Bargaining Diminishes," Working Papers wp213, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    5. Addison, John T. & Siebert, W. Stanley, 2002. "Changes in Collective Bargaining in the U.K," IZA Discussion Papers 562, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. John Forth, 2008. "Workplace Employee Representatives, 1980-2004," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 317, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    7. Alex J. Wood, 2015. "Networks of injustice and worker mobilisation at Walmart," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 259-274, July.
    8. Peter Urwin & Franz Buscha & Paul L. Latreille, 2014. "Representation in UK Employment Tribunals: Analysis of the 2003 and 2008 Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications (SETA)," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(1), pages 158-184, March.
    9. Zagelmeyer, Stefan, 2003. "Die Entwicklung kollektiver Verhandlungen in Gro├čbritannien: ein historischer ├ťberblick," Discussion Papers 17, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    10. Brown, W & Hudson, M & Deakin, S & Pratten, C, 2001. "The Limits of Statutory Trade Union Recognition," Working Papers wp199, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    11. Mark Harcourt & Helen Lam & Richard Croucher, 2015. "The right-to-manage default rule," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 222-235, May.
    12. William Brown & Paul Ryan, 2003. "The Irrelevance of Trade union Recognition? A Comparison of Two Matched Companies," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 6(3), pages 383-408, September.
    13. Weidenstedt, Linda, 2017. "It Takes Two to Empower: The Communicative Context of Empowerment Change in the Workplace," Ratio Working Papers 300, The Ratio Institute.
    14. Willman, Paul & Bryson, Alex, 2007. "Union organization in Great Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19762, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Lars Calmfors & Giancarlo Corsetti & Seppo Honkapohja & John Kay & Willi Leibfritz & Gilles Saint-Paul & Hans-Werner Sinn & Xavier Vives, 2004. "Pay-setting Systems in Europe: On-going Development and Possible Reforms," EEAG Report on the European Economy, CESifo Group Munich, vol. 0, pages 61-83, October.
    16. James Arrowsmith & Paul Marginson, 2011. "Variable Pay and Collective Bargaining in British Retail Banking," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 49(1), pages 54-79, March.

    More about this item


    employment contract; labour law; collective bargaining;

    JEL classification:

    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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