115. Follow the instruction to write 3000words essay on topic of Employment RelationsAll the work must be based on previous coursework which are are last two attachments.Please read all instructions very carefully to make sure the essay follow the instructions perfectly.All the work must be original Turn it in report is required
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COURSEWORK ASSIGNMENT
Academic Year 2018/19
Module Code:
BHM 349
Module Name:
Employee Relations in Context
Module Leader:
Dr. Vidu Badigannavar
Coursework Title:
A 3000 word essay on the following topic:
Critically examine the role of the State (government) as an actor in
employment relations.
Task Details/Description:
Students are expected to write an essay not exceeding 3000 words on the given essay
topic.
Module Learning Outcomes Assessed:
1. Demonstrate understanding of basic concepts, theories and perspectives of employee
relations
2. Critically evaluate the impact of local, national and global contexts shaping employee
relations.
3. Examine the roles and functions of different groups or stakeholders in employment
relationship
Presentation Requirements:
Word Count: 3000
Font Size: 12
Line Spacing: Double
The word count includes citations within the main body of your essay. However, it
excludes the list of bibliographic references at the end of your essay, any tables and
graphs.
Submission Date & Time:
14 December 2018 by 12 noon.
Assessment Weighting for the Module:
Percentage: 100%
Assessment Criteria
1. Ability to engage in a critical review of relevant literature
2. Demonstrate wider reading and ability to engage in independent research which
goes beyond lecture materials.
3. Ability to think laterally across topics covered on this module to answer the essay
question
4. Argue analytically, logically and coherently.
5. Wherever possible, support arguments with evidence from published sources
6. Cite and/or quote sources of information appropriately in the main body of the
essay. Provide full list of bibliographic references at the end of the essay.
Ethical Requirements
Students are not expected to collect primary data for this essay. However, if they choose
to do so, they will be required to follow the University’s ethical regulations and seek written
approval from the tutor.
Essential Reading for Coursework Task
(if in addition to reading provided in the module outline):
Please note that this is not intended as an exhaustive or definitive list of readings for this
piece of coursework. Instead, the articles/chapters listed below should be viewed as core
or essential readings that may act as a start point as you prepare to tackle this
assignment:
Frege, C. and Kelly, J. (2013) ‘Comparative Employment Relations in the Global
Economy’ Routledge, London and New York
Williams, S. (2014) ‘Introducing Employment Relations – A Critical Approach’, Oxford
University Press, Oxford, UK.
Dundon, T. and Rollinson, D. (2011), ‘Understanding Employment Relations’ 2 nd edition,
McGraw-Hill, Berkshire, England.
Frege, C. and Kelly, J. (2004) ‘Varieties of Unionism – Strategies of Union Revitalization in
a Globalizing Economy’ Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Badigannavar V. (2017) ‘Is Social Partnership the Way Forward for Indian Trade Unions?
Evidence from Public Services’ International Labour Review, Vol.156 (3-4): 367-394
Badigannavar,V. and Kelly, J. (2012) ‘Do Labour Laws Protect Labour in India? Union
experiences of workplace employment regulations in Maharashtra, India’ Industrial Law
Journal vol.49 (4): 439-470
Workplace Employment Relations Survey 2011-12.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-2011-workplace-employment-relationsstudy-wers
Website of the Trades Union Congress UK http://www.tuc.org.uk/
Website of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) http://www.ituc-csi.org/
Website of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFLCIO) http://www.aflcio.org/
China Labour Bulletin http://www.clb.org.hk/en/
Solidarity Federation http://www.solfed.org.uk/
European Trade
confederation
Union
Confederation
http://www.etuc.org/european-trade-union-
Confederation of British Industry (CBI) http://www.cbi.org.uk/
Involvement and participation association of UK http://www.ipa-involve.com/
Institute of Directors www.iod.com
Institute of Employment Rights www.ier.org.uk
This is not an exhaustive list of readings or internet sources. Please do your own
independent research in addition to the readings & information sources listed above.
Please refer to the module outline/specification for a list of useful journals recommended
for this module.
Critically examine the role of the Government as an actor in employment relations
Post financial crash there was an increase in job insecurity despite the unemployment rate
being better than initially expected (Gardiner, 2013). This is often linked to the rapid growth
of the number of workers who were on less hours than they needed to support themselves,
a group frequently referred to as the ‘working poor’ (Bell and Blanchflower, 2013). Popular
opinion, supported by statistics, links this rise to the concurrent rise in the use of zero hour
contracts (ZHCs). A ZHC is where there is no obligation for the employer to provide work,
due to there being no working hours stated on a contract, and no obligation for the
employee to accept work that has been offered (Williams, 2014). Individuals on ZHCs are
deemed ‘underemployed’, explaining the better than expected unemployment figures postrecession. Figures indicate a rise from 2.3 million workers on ZHCs in the UK in 2008, to 3.3
million in 2012 (TUC, 2012). Public opinion, trade unions and a vast number of employees
on ZHCs felt they suffered a detriment in comparison to those on permanent contracts with
guaranteed hours, and historically had hugely limited rights. The rise in use of ZHCs and the
increasing coverage of their use caused Labour to commit to banning ZHCs in their
manifesto for the 2015 general election. This notion was due to negative public opinion,
employees, and trade unions wanting them banned, despite employers valuing them and
wanting to maintain the freedom they had in their use due to a lack of imposed regulations.
It became clear that anger was rising surrounding the Conservative Government’s inaction.
Because of the above, the Government at the time were compelled to play the role of the
mediator between both parties, employees and employers, and did so through the
introduction of the legislation change in 2015. This change aimed to allow employers to
continue the practice of offering ZHCs, whilst protecting employees from the financial and
sociological effects of being on a ZHC. The change ensured that employees on ZHCs can
work for multiple employers, as opposed to being confined to working for one employer,
even if no hours are provided over a period of time. The necessity of this Government
intervention will be discussed, through a consideration of the positives and negatives of the
Government’s previous inaction for employees and employers.
Employers benefitted from the governments’ previous inaction on the matter for a variety
of reasons. Most notably, having employees on ZHCs enables employers to be able to
organise workers hours around changes in demand for their products/services (Williams,
2014). This creates a much more cost effective way to deploy staff as it gives employers the
ability to reduce the wage bill in periods of lower profit, therefore reducing their labour
costs considerably (ibid.). It creates a flexible culture and variable wage bill, in which staff
only need to be paid for the specific hours of work that they do. Research suggests that
flexibility is the biggest benefit for employers, as demonstrated by Dickens (1997) who
found that out of the 36 organisations surveyed that used ZHCs, 94% gave ‘the ability to
deal with fluctuations in work’ as their rationale for doing so. ZHCs don’t only reduce the
employers fixed wage bill, they also reduce costs for employee benefits as it is less likely
someone on a ZHC would receive benefits such as sick and holiday pay, company pensions
etc, than someone on a permanent contract (Brinded, 2014). It is clear, therefore, that
employers benefitted from these contracts, and therefore from the lack of regulations
imposed by the Government. One could argue that the Government’s inaction indicated
support for the employers, as we know that another one of the Government’s role in the
labour market is one of an economic manager. The Government’s action in 2015 to impose
a regulation on ZHCs does not affect employers wage bill, because the regulation simply
means employees are able to, and cannot be penalised for, working for another employer.
Therefore the company will not be paying increased wages, or increasing their spending on
employee benefits, but may suffer from employees on ZHCs being less available to work,
thus stifling the company’s flexibility.
The Government’s decision to regulate ZHCs will have no negative impact on the small pool
of employees who value the flexibility the contracts provide. These individuals value the
ability to only work when suitable to them, as they are able to work around other
commitments and family responsibilities more than they would if they were full time
(Williams, 2014). This group of people are more likely to be students, for whom ZHCs work
well due to the fact they are less likely to be solely dependent on the income received
through wages, as they may be supported by family or student loans. Brinded (2014)
discusses survey evidence from the CIPD, which found that those on ZHCs are more satisfied
with their work-life balance (65%) than those on permanent contracts (58%). It is clear,
therefore, that there are pools of employees who value the use of ZHCs, and these people
will not suffer a detriment from the new regulations. Had the Government banned ZHCs,
these individuals would not have been able to work as flexibly. It is likely the Government
considered this factor in implementing regulations, and recognised that a ban would have
reduced the work life balance and flexibility for those employees who value the benefits of
ZHCs. Finally, for the argument against an outright ban, Gardiner (2015) reminds us not to
overplay the effect ZHCs have on the labour market as those on ZHCs are only a small
minority, which Koumenta and Williams (2016) highlight is contrary to popular opinion and
what is portrayed in the media. Based on this, it was not the Government of the day’s
priority until the opposition party pledged to ban ZHCs entirely. Additionally, ZHCs are not
always negative, even for those who are solely dependent on the income they bring. De
Graaf-Zill, Van den Berg & Heyma (2011) found that temporary jobs, in this case including
ZHCs, had a positive effect on an employee finding regular employment. In other words, it
was a good stepping stone onto something more stable (ibid., 2011). The effect was more
pronounced for the low rather than highly educated unemployed.
There are, however, strong arguments against ZHCs, leading to criticism of the
Government’s initial inaction, an increased discussion in the media and awareness in the
public, and the Labour party to include it in their manifesto. These arguments outline the
reasons for which employees wanted, and in some case needed, action, whether that be an
overall ban or the introduction of employer regulations. The first of these is the issue of
Diversity. The food and agriculture business make use of ZHCs as the work is typically
seasonal, with demand increasing at different points of the year. Using ZHCs in these
businesses is advantageous for the employers as above, however migrant labour is relatively
highly concentrated in this line of work (Williams, 2014). Unfortunately, this means that
migrants are more likely to be on ZHCs and therefore experience the unpredictability and
low income to be discussed shortly. Similarly, as ZHCs are predominantly used in low skilled
jobs, those on ZHCs are likely to be women as UK women in the labour market are more
likely to be in the lower skilled, lower paid jobs than men are. Over half of the organisations
surveyed by Dickens (1997) reported that the majority of employees on ZHCs in their
companies were women. Koumenta and Williams (2016) found that ZHCs are concentrated
in jobs involving physical tasks, with one in 5 ZHC jobs in the home carer/care assistant
profession, which is a largely female dominated profession. This is the case despite EU
Flexible working policy which highlights the need to “enhance equal opportunities between
men and women” (Perrons, 1999). Finally, young people are more likely to be on a ZHC than
older people (Koumenta and Williams, 2016), which is in line with the belief that ZHCs work
best for younger individuals who are not dependent on them as their sole income.
Importantly, the samples used in Koumenta and Williams’ 2016 study were small, so care
needs to be taken when generalising. The introduction of the Government regulations is
unlikely to solve the problem in diversity, as the concentrated groups in certain industries is
a symptom of the wider society. In this way, the Government’s action had no effect.
However, there are various other arguments against ZHCs, on which the new regulations
have a positive effect. One of the main problems of ZHCs was often cited as the pay
disparity between those on ZHCs and those on permanent contracts. Brinded (2014)
described a two tier workforce; it was found that ZHC workers earn approximately £300 a
week less than those on permanent contracts. Although this data is unpublished ONS data,
and therefore requires careful application, it points to a problem that anecdotal evidence
would support. This is linked to the research above that those on ZHCs are typically in lower
skilled, lower paid jobs, however differs from the above situation, which outlines a symptom
of society on which the new regulations cannot change, and upon which the legislation
change could make a difference on pay disparity. This is because, previously those on ZHCs
could not work for multiple employers, even if they had no, or very few hours offered week
on week. The Government’s decision to take action on ZHCs – by introducing the regulations
– has not changed the fact that ZHCs are typically low paid, but it has meant that employees
are able to increase their income by working for more than one employer. This gives
employees on ZHCs more opportunity to increase their standard of living by earning more
money.
Similarly, since the Government’s introduction of the regulations, the uncertainty and
unpredictability is reduced, again because employees can now work for multiple employers,
reducing this problem considerably. Irregular and uncertain income were causes of stress
for those on ZHCs (Shelley, 2007). The work is not guaranteed, which often leads to
exploitation, and the unpredictability of hours makes it hard to plan family life,
commitments and activities, for example arrange childcare, around the hours as there is no
guarantee and certainly no routine (Williams, 2014). Blyton and Jenkins (2012) conducted
interviews with those on part time, flexible contracts including ZHCs. The effects of
unpredictability were highlighted by an interview of a hotel receptionist, who spoke about
cancelling health appointments last minute due to a last minute request for work, and being
completely unable to book a future one due to not having a schedule (Blyton and Jenkins,
2012). A BBC newsnight programme in 2012 drew attention to the problem of ZHCs and the
lack of guaranteed regular income. The documentary featured two individuals, one who
only found out 2 hours before a sift was about to start whether she was required to go into
work, and the other who worked for McDonalds and explained that only managers were
given guaranteed, regular work (Williams, 2014). The uncertainty stretches further than in
regards to which shifts employees can work and be paid for, as there is also uncertainty
surrounding employment status, as employment can be terminated with little or any prior
notice from employers (Lavery, 2014). Although, as above, the new regulations do not
resolve this issue in its entirety, the new regulations mediate the issue of certainty as
employees can look for a job with more regular, guaranteed, routine hours, while working
on a ZHC too. This reduces employees’ flexibility in a positive way, as we know that
employees suffer financially and sociologically from the lack of predictability and guarantee
of work.
The sociological impact of ZHCs are another reason employees and trade unions wanted a
ban or regulation on these contract types. Lavery (2014) categorises ZHCs as a form of
“precarious employment” because they are ‘atypical’, unlike contracts involving standard,
regular hours which are ‘typical’. Sociologically, precarious employment is linked to feelings
of isolation, insecurity and uncertainty (Lavery, 2014). Lopes and Dewan (2014) looked at
these effects in higher education, a field where there has been an increase in the use of
ZHCs. They conducted interviews and focus groups with lecturers and tutors on ZHCs and
found experiences of “job insecurity, exploitation, lack of support, research and
opportunities for career progression and feelings of exclusion” (ibid., pg 40). The authors
recommend an increase in support for these individuals, in addition to an attempt to
increase continuity and integration of those individuals (Lopez and Dewan, 2014). Although
Lopez and Dewan (2014) note that in the higher education sector a significant minority as
opposed to majority are on ZHCs, Butler (2013) reported the headline that universities are
twice more likely to use ZHCs than other employers. The sociological problems still exist
with the prevalence of ZHCs, however the new legislation helps to resolve the feelings of
isolation, insecurity etc as employees can now apply for more stable work to conduct
alongside their ZHC job. Given, however, the severity of these issues and the psychological
effect they are bound to have had on employees, it is surprising that the Government did
not choose to intervene sooner.
Finally, the confusion with and concerns around employment status, and therefore
employee benefits, was another reason for the Government to impose a ban or some
regulations on the use of ZHCs. Dickens’ (1997) survey indicated that zero hours employees
were often not given non contractual benefits such as sick pay, car allowance and company
pension, despite the fact that 80% of the employers surveyed that used ZHCs said that those
on them were employees. This demonstrates that typically, those on ZHCs do not just suffer
financially due to a low pay for few hours, but they also suffer financially by having to fund
amenities that an employer would fund if they were permanent, ‘typical’ employees. The
new regulations, again, fail to address this, however by enabling employees to work for
multiple employers, individuals can earn more to be able to afford benefits themselves, for
example a private pension. Also, if they have an additional job where they are treated and
rewarded as ‘typical’ employees through employee benefits, they have access to otherwise
missing benefits from this employer.
It is clear from the above that both parties, employees and employers, had different
demands and concerns around ZHCs. For employers, ZHCs provide a cost efficient, flexible
solution to supply, demand and the link with wage bill. ZHCs increase the variable wage bill
while reducing the fixed wage bill, a positive for employers who want to dominate a market
by increasing their profit and market share. One of the state’s roles in employment relations
is as an economic manager, therefore by advocating the use of ZHCs through their inaction,
the Government have helped to boost the flexibility of the labour market post-recession.
There is an argument to say that this inaction, paired with the rise in the use of ZHCs gave
the economy the boost it needed at this time, but we can see from the above that it ha …
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