Module Identifier LA36820  
Module Title LABOUR LAW  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Professor Diane Rowland  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Other staff Ms Melanie L Williams, Professor Richard A W Kidner  
Pre-Requisite LA10110 or LA30110 and LA15830 or LA35830 or LA15710  
Co-Requisite LA36030  
Mutually Exclusive LA34610, LA34710  
Course delivery Lecture   40 Hours  
  Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours Seminar.  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours R. Kidner, Blackstones Statutes on Employment Law (latest edition) can be taken into the examination.  66%
Semester Assessment Essay: Assessed essay of 2000 words (required in week 9)  33%

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module the student will have a thorough grounding in the substantive law governing the individual employment relationship and the regulation of trade unions. The module will enhance students' existing analytical skills requiring them to evaluate increasingly complex factual situations and inculcating the skill to reconcile and assess competing rights and to explain and communicate the result. Students will acquire the ability to understand the existing legal situation in the context of the current social, economic and political climate, both in the UK and Europe and gain an understanding of the implications for the structure and organisation of the workforce and the balance of rights between employer and employee. In particular students will:

- develop a knowledge and understanding of the system of adjudication for employment cases, especially the unusual locus of law and fact in the arbitration process,
- develop a critical understanding of the technical elements particular to the contract of employment,
- understand the concept of `continuity of employment' and its importance in an unfair dismissal claim,
- be able to distinguish between grounds for dismissal that are automatically unfair, those where no unfair dismissal action can lie and those where the courts and tribunals assess reasonableness,
- appreciate the remedies available to a successful applicant for unfair dismissal including the calculation of monetary awards,
- understand the background and basis of anti-discrimination law,
- be able to apply the anti-discrimination legislation in practical situations,
- appreciate the significance of the status of a trade union,
- understand the role of collective bargaining in the regulation of the relationship between employer and employee and
- understand the regulatory framework for the control of industrial action.

Brief description

"The law governing labour relations is one of the centrally important branches of the law - the legal basis on which a very large majority of people earn their living. No-one should be qualified as a lawyer - professionally or academically - who has not mastered its principles."

Kahn-Freund's Labour and the Law   3rd ed
Davies and Friedland   1983

The Labour Law module covers legal aspects of both the individual relationship between the employer and the employee and between trade unions and employers. The law on this subject has evolved at a considerable rate in the last two decades, reflecting changes of both legal and political emphasis and making this a module of contemporary relevance.

The dynamic relationship between employer and employee is one of the most pervasive relationships of modern society. The premises, character and terms of the relationship can impinge deeply upon the lives of employer and employee alike. The principles and rules of law governing the nature of the employer-employee relationship, the formation, content, alteration and termination of the contract of employment are studied and the way in which these principles and rules are worked out in the courts, tribunals and workplace is explored.   

The hostile atmosphere which can be created as a result of arbitrary discrimination is inimical to a good relationship between employer and employee. The last few years have seen extensive litigation with reference to discrimination seeking to clarify the nature and extent of the protection provided by the Sex Discrimination, Race Relations and Disability Discrimination Acts. The module examines the substantive content of the anti-discrimination legislation and considers particularly how it is applied in the areas of part-time working, pregnancy and maternity rights and sexual harassment.

Many international conventions recognise the right of an employee to be represented by a trade union and for trade unions to be actively involved in the workplace both by way of protecting the individual employee and by bargaining collectively with the employer over such matters as pay and other forms of employment. This module deals first with the status and legal control of unions and with the rights of an individuals an a member and then with the freedom to strike and legal controls on industrial action. The final part covers collective bargaining by trade unions and the right of a trade union to be recognised by the employer for bargaining purposes.


To promote understanding of the way in which social, political and economic factors have influenced the development and current position of law governing the employer/employee relationship. To enable students to analyse and assess the conflicts between the rights of employers and employee, the tension between collective and individual rights , the balance between discriminating factors and business needs and the complex interrelationship between the legislature and the courts in formulating the law relating to this subject.


1. Introduction.
2. Tribunals.
3. The Importance of Contract.
4. Identifying Employees.
5. Creation of the Contract of Employment.
6. Employer's Implied Duties.
7. Employee's Implied Duties.
8. Termination of Contracts of Employment.
9. Altering the Terms of the Relationship.
10. Unfair Dismissal.
11. Redundancy.
12. The anti-discrimination legislation - Sex Discrimination, Race Relations and Disability Discrimination Acts
13. Equal Pay
14. Introduction to Trade Union Law
15. Definition and Status of Trade Unions
16. Internal Regulation: The Rule Book and the rights of members
17. Industrial action
18. Collective bargaining and recognition

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
J. Bowers and S. Honeyball (2002) Textbook on Labour Law 7th. Blackstones
R Kidner Statutes on Employment Law (latest edition) OUP
I.T. Smith and G. H. Thomas (2000) Smith and Wood's Industrial Law 7th. Butterworths
Simon Deakin and Gillian Morris (2001) Labour Law 3rd. Butterworths


This module is at CQFW Level 6