Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Hugh Collins, Gillian Lester, and Virginia Mantouvalou

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198825272

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198825272.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 October 2020

The Contractualisation of Labour Law

The Contractualisation of Labour Law

(p.33) 2 The Contractualisation of Labour Law
Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law

John Gardner

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the idea that labour law rests on ‘a contractual foundation’, and the idea that work relations today are ever more ‘contractualised’. Section 1 lays out some essentials of British labour law and its connections with the common law of contract. Section 2 explains what contractualisation is, not yet focusing attention on the specific context of labour law. The main claims are that contract is not a specifically legal device, and that contractualisation is therefore not a specifically legal process, even when the law is complicit in it. Section 3 shifts attention to the world of work, especially the employment relationship. Here the main ideas are that the employment relationship is not (apart from the law) a contractual relationship, and that all the norms of the employment relationship cannot therefore be captured adequately in a contract, legally binding or otherwise. Section 4 illustrates the latter point by focusing on the rationale and the limits of the employer’s authority over the employee. A contractual rationale yields the wrong limits. It gives its blessing to authoritarian work regimes and lends credence to the miserable view that work is there to pay for the life of the worker without forming part of that life. Throughout the chapter there are intimations of the conclusion drawn in section 5: that contractualisation, in the labour market at least, is a process that lovers of freedom, as well as lovers of self-realisation, should resist—or rather, should have resisted while they still had the chance.

Keywords:   contract, employment, relationships, authority, freedom, alienation

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .