IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Contract of Employment: A Study in Legal Evolution


  • S. Deakin


This paper reconstructs the evolutionary path of the contract of employmentin English law. It demonstrates that the contract of employment is a more recent innovation than widely thought, and that its essential features owe as much to legislation as they do to the common law of contract. The master-servant model of the nineteenth century was only displaced by the modern contract of employment as a result of twentieth century social legislation and collective bargaining. The paper discusses present-day mutations in the legal form of employment in the light of this analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • S. Deakin, 2001. "The Contract of Employment: A Study in Legal Evolution," Working Papers wp203, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp203
    Note: PRO-1

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Toye, John, 1997. "Keynes on Population and Economic Growth," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-26, January.
    2. Fortin, Pierre & Keil, Manfred & Symons, James, 2001. "The Sources of Unemployment in Canada, 1967-91: Evidence from a Panel of Regions and Demographic Groups," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(1), pages 67-93, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Juan C. Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "The Regulation of Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1339-1382.
    2. repec:ilo:ilowps:486240 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Mitja Cok & Polona Domadenik & Tjasa Redek & Miroslav Verbic, 2009. "Labour market reforms in the context of political power theory: The case of Slovenia," Zbornik radova Ekonomskog fakulteta u Rijeci/Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics, University of Rijeka, Faculty of Economics, vol. 27(1), pages 57-82.
    4. Zoe Adams & Simon Deakin, 2014. "Institutional Solutions to Precariousness and Inequality in Labour Markets," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(4), pages 779-809, December.
    5. Zoe Adams & Simon Deakin, 2014. "Institutional Solutions to Precariousness & Inequality in Labour Markets," Working Papers wp463, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    6. Aleksynska, Mariya. & Schmidt, Alexandra., 2014. "A chronology of employment protection legislation in some selected European countries," ILO Working Papers 994862403402676, International Labour Organization.

    More about this item


    contract of employment; poor law; mater and servant; collective bargaining; welfare state; legal evolution; path dependence;

    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
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp203. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ruth Newman and Georgie Cohen). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.