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European Union and British Employment (Essay Sample)

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The Impact of European Union on British Employment

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Impact of European Union on British Employment Relations
The European Union aims to bring about an improved social climate to enhance the living conditions of people in European countries via sustainable economic growth and better social cohesion. It is mandated to be the custodian of the ultimate legal framework for member states and European citizens in overall. The Union also advocates for international cooperation and coordination in addition to harmonization of national policies regarding socio-economic aspects present within member states. It highly relies on the participation of many stakeholders including Unions, local authorities and employers’ organizations among others. The Union holds objectives that include the promotion of worker mobility and employment within the scope of the member states. It also works to improve work terms and conditions, combat social isolation of minority groups, promote fairness and equality and offer information and consultation platforms for workers (Europa.com).
For a considerable amount of time, the Industrial Relations system in the United Kingdom (U.K) was exemplified by deliberate interactions among players in both the state and private sectors with little influence by government practices. In fact, the state rarely involved itself with Labor relations in the private sector as a function of a noninterventionist political structure. Over the 19th to the 20th century, Unions gained much relevance in organizing the country’s workforce since the state allowed them a great deal of scope to do the same. The Trade Union Congress was officially initiated in the year 1868; Unions were later legally recognized as corporations and so entities with legal rights to involve in industrial action like strikes and peaceful picketing. The corporate employers in Britain enjoyed huge discretion as the country had vast markets as a major colony during the period. (19th Century and early 20th Century). As a result, these companies of employers had the power of collective bargaining working in their favor and against planned legislation (Europa.com).
More so, the British government exercised a ‘Conservative Approach’ when it came to matters of Employment Relations subsequent to the end of World War II and the last quarter of the 20th century. In addition, many state owned corporate bodies underwent privatization at the time. Aspects of liberalization and limited legislation regarding Employment Relations were reviewed. A noteworthy reduction in Trade Union membership was recorded during this period all through to the 1990s (Bryson et al. p347) Immunity provisions for Unions and Collective agreements were done away with. With the coming of the European Union (EU), Tony Blair’s administration employed the use of ‘individual employment rights’ as a form of protection for employees. The ‘Minimum wage rates’ were introduced. All these transpired around the year 1997, when the EU was taking root of embryonic stages (Duina, p167).
The regulations of the EU influenced the British Employment Relations largely as a function of legislative procedures; they seemingly took over ‘Public Policy’ regarding Employment Relations in member countries (Duina p495). This caused increased decline in Trade Unions’ membership. By the new millennium, the Unions comprised of only about 26% of workers in the United Kingdom. The European Union (EU) has created a notable dimension regarding labor mobility in member countries. Britain is one of the countries mostly affected by this up-and-coming situation that causes noteworthy influx and out flux of workers among European countries. In fact, a number of British nationals have come out to question whether joining the Union was necessary in the first place considering the effects that have followed. In the context of Industrial Relations, the British government conformed to the sprouting EU system of Employment Relations (Duina p324-325).
The EU legislation for intergration for employment relations caused member states (Britain included) to adopt an enforcement directive regarding posted workers, who are in employment out of their mother countries bur remain within the EU. It also allows European business enterprises to engage freely in commercial activities at any location within the EU. (Williams & Adam-Smith p210)
The EU Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has had major impacts on the British economy. It has facilitated the reaching of other markets on an international market via the EU platform, which has a relatively high combined GDP. Even though it can be argued that newer members have benefited in regards to Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), the challenges posed by globalization are shielded from affecting all member countries directly. The EU social regulation adoption in Britain has brought about notable impacts on the country’s economy since the Union has recorded enlargement since its inception hence the creation of a larger market segment. In addition, other strategic and political benefits have been realized by member countries such as periodic boosts in European security and relevance beyond its borders. The Europe continent has witnessed stability and harmony propagated by increased trade relations. The continent, as a market segment has become well equipped to conduct dealings with other regions and market segments. Even so, the United Kingdom has seen its fare share of downfalls in its workforce. As the new millennium started, the country experienced a huge number of stoppages and so the loss of scores of working days, this can however be attributed to the many disputes that occurred mostly in the Public Sector. Policies concerning austerity government funding and pension were more emphasized during the 2008 Global Economic crisis. The government came to the brink of cutting back on Employment Relations regarding non-citizens. At the same time, workers were demanding better compensation and strikes were imminent. A certain level of industrial action that occurred resulted in loss of working days and hours for the country. The stringent regulations adopted by the UK government saw Union de-recognition take place in 2011 and failure to reach collective agreements designed to protect British workers (Geyer et al. p156-170).
As part of EU regulations principles, the UK developed several mechanisms to enforce and grant employee rights. In addition, the predominant ‘Employees Tribunals’ have continued to exist even after the decline of trade Unions. The UK Health and Safety Executive and the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are some of the government agencies bestowed with the responsibility of enforcing these sensitive issues. The Government implemented the National Minimum Wage in 1997, which is constantly revised as the economic environment experiences changes (William & Adam-Smith p365-370). A lot of debate has been conducted at the European Union (EU) level in regards to regulations of working time. The British government implemented a maximum of 48 hours for a normal working week in accordance to the 1993 EU Working Time Directive (93/104/EC). This implementation is followed to the later in a stringent and particular manner. Even so, there exists several stated exemptions for professionals Permits and managerial workers. , in actuality, the average working time in the UK remains slightly higher than the overall European Average. Employment relations in terms of the Collective Redundancies Directive (98/59/EC) of the EU require thorough consultation to determine when consultation ought to be initiated to avoid further industrial action in case where workers have failed to see eye to eye with employers. In fact, The UK’s laws concerning Unions are limited to a reasonable extent by the EU’s regulations (Europa.com).
Another area of controversy between the two regulations is in regards to the rights of employees in the instance where the employer changes because of an undertaking or transfer. Up to date, there is no generally accepted common ground in terms of conditions of employment after the process is completed. As far as Human Rights are concerned, the European Union Convention on Human Rights fails to agree wholly with the English (UK) legal system regarding the rights of workers to exercise practices of religion and beliefs within their workplaces even though they seem aligned on aspects of sex, gender, disability and sexual orientation (Europa.com). In addition, litigation aspects hav...
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