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  Working Hours
Budd, John W. & Mumford, Karen, "Trade Unions and Family-Friendly Policies in Britain", Industrial and Labor Relations Review v. 57 (January 2004) p. 204-221

Relying on the British Workplace Employee Relations Survey of 1998, this article analyzes the relationship between labor unions and six employer-provided family-friendly policies--parental leave, paid family leave, child care subsidies, flexible working hours, working at home options, and job sharing plans. The study finds that unions increase the availabilty of parental leave, special paid leave and job-sharing options, though not work-at-home arrangements nor flexible working hours. The authors conclude that unions, with their higher bargaining leverage, are better positioned both to negotiate for superior family-leave benefits for their workers, and inform their members of options that may already exist but are under-utilized.

Subjects: Case Studies: Country-Specific, Women’s Rights, Working Hours
Newsletter: Vol 4, Issue 8
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Cameron, Craig, "Oxymoronic or Employer Logic? Preferred Hours Under the Fair Work Act", Australian Journal of International Law v. 25 no1 (March 2012) p. 43-64

In Australia, preferred hours clauses allow workers to elect to work, different or additional hours at their standard rate of pay. These clauses are controversial; many unions and politicians believe that the clauses undermine the Fair Work Act by relieving employers of the obligation to pay overtime. Employers counter that the Fair Work act acknowledges the need for flexibility so that business can run efficiently and individual workers can be accommodated. The author examines case law relating to preferred hours clauses and finds that employers often pressure workers into agreeing to them in order to save on labor costs. The author argues that this exploitation that is, on balance, more detrimental to the labor force as a whole than beneficial to the workers who request preferred hours arrangements. To preserve flexibility for workers who desire it, the author recommends that employers should be required to either show they have a genuine need for a preferred hours agreement, or that the employee engaged in the agreement genuinely needs or benefits from the arrangement.

Subjects: Australia, Case Studies: Country-Specific, Comparative Labor Law, Working Hours
Cooney, Sean & Biddulph, Sarah & Kungang, Li & Zhu,Ying, "China’s New Labour Contract Law: Responding to the Growing Complexity of Labour Relations in the PRC", University of New South Wales Law Journal v. 30 no3 (2007) p. 786-801

This article provides a discussion and evaluation of China’s New Labour Contract Law. First, the article explains how the previous Labour Law of 1994 was inadequate in the increasingly complex and privatized nature of the Chinese labor market and how the new law was intended to provide a comprehensive framework for the formation, performance, modification and termination of labor contracts. Secondly, the article discusses the lobbying efforts of labor and business to shape the outcome of the new law. The article then evaluates the effectiveness of the law, including some of its more controversial provisions. For example, by limiting employers’ ability to change work rules governed by employment contracts, the law may have the unintended effect that employers will limit the scope of such agreements to escape regulation. Similarly, the compromise between labor and business lobbying groups over the responsibility of employers towards terminated workers has resulted in a two-tier system in which “regular” employees enjoy significant protections while “casual” employees have few protections. One of the most important aspects of the law, according to the author, is that labor contract agencies must now also provide contracts to their employees – of a minimum two years. The new law’s treatment of post-employment non-compete clauses is also controversial. Though the law restricts this pervasive practice to some extent, the law’s provisions on this subject rely largely on voluntary compliance by employers. This article concludes that while this new law is often an uncomfortable compromise between the demands of competing interests, overall it is an improvement in efforts to clarify the employment relationship and establish minimum labor protections for China’s large privat-sector workforce.

Subjects: Case Studies: Country-Specific, China, Contingent Work, Employment Law, Health and Safety, Working Hours
Newsletter: Vol 7, Issue 3
Freedland, Mark , "Developing the European Comparative Law of Personal Work Contracts", Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal v. 28 (2007) p. 487-497

This article summarizes ongoing research into the comparative law of employment contracts in North America, Great Britain and continental Europe. The author argues that the continental European labor law is generally less inclined than its English counterpart to make categorical exclusions of temporary and contingent workers from "employee" status based on assumptions about long-term labor contracts as a societal norm. He also argues that continental European legal systems have generally had a more flexible notion of "employer," which, in turn, may be more useful for recognizing a continuous employment contract between a worker and successive proprietors or in situations involving employment contracts with joint or multiple employers. Further, the author argues that because different countries have different doctrines regarding the ability of individual employees to contract out of statutory labor standards, the resulting divergence of regulations has made it increasingly important for labor law scholars to examine labor law in a comparative perspective.

Subjects: Case Studies: Country-Specific, Comparative Labor Law, Conflict of Laws, Contingent Work, Employment Law, European Union, Flexibilization, Working Hours
Newsletter: Vol 6, Issue 12
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Kenner, Jeff, "Re-evaluating the Concept of Working Time: an Analysis of Recent Case Law", Industrial Relations Journal v. 35 no6 (November 2004) p. 588-602

This article focuses on the Working Time Directive adopted by the European Community to protect workers’ health and safety. The Directive provides that weekly working time must not exceed an average of 48 hours, including overtime. However, at the UK’s insistence, there is also a provision that allows a member state to “opt-out” of this 48-hour limit, undermining the whole scheme of the Directive. This article discusses the necessity of a full debate on the best method of reconciling the Directive with the “opt-out” provision in light of two recent decisions by the European Court of Justice in the SIMAP and Jaeger cases, in which the Court expanded the definition of “working time” to include time spent “on-call” by doctors if they are required to be present at the health care establishment. The author concludes by suggesting that the Directive provide more flexibility and autonomy for the individual in light of the continuously changing working environment.

Subjects: European Union, Health and Safety, Working Hours
Newsletter: Vol 4, Issue 3
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Shimada, Yoichi, "Working Hour Schemes for White-Collar Employees in Japan", Japan Labor Review v. 1 no4 (Fall 2004) p. 48-67

This article argues that the current regulations in place concerning “working hours” (hours that an employee is paid wages for) is not appropriate for Japan’s white-collar workers. White-collar workers , unlike most other employees in Japan, have varying levels of discretion over how they do their work as well as the amount of work they perform. The article starts with a description of the general working conditions of white-collar workers, which often includes excessively long working hours, unpaid overtime, and no paid holidays. Section 2 discusses how previous regulations on working hours were applied to white-collar workers and the two current working-hour schemes that were set up in recognition of the unique nature of white-collar workers. The “flex-time” scheme doesn’t fix rigid starting and ending times for the working day, but does mandate a certain number of hours be worked within a certain period (e.g. one month). The “discretionary work” scheme lets the individual worker calculate his/her own working hours, but is riddled with cumbersome legal procedures. Section 3 explores in depth how the discretionary nature of white-collar workers warrants a working hour scheme that’s different from other employees, and suggests that the “flex-time” and “discretionary work” schemes can be improved by incorporating evaluation systems and health requirements. Section 4 raises issues that should be discussed in considering new working hour regulations for future white-collar workers, including how to determine an appropriate workload, and an annual paid holiday scheme.

Subjects: Case Studies: Country-Specific, Contingent Work, Japan, Working Hours
Newsletter: Vol 4, Issue 5
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Villiers, Charlotte , "Why Employee Protection Legislation is Still Necessary", Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal v. 33 (Spring 2012) p. 481-492

This article discusses the need for new employment protection laws in response to the limited ability of employees to negotiate fairly with employers in the current economic and political climate. The author believes the current financial crisis undermines the protections afforded workers because of the intense competition for jobs. Workers today display a greater willingness to work disproportionate hours, avoid union organization and collective action, and accept reorganization efforts by employers. The lack of a desire for collective action has significantly weakened unions’ ability to obtain acceptable and protective bargaining agreements. This article concludes by arguing for new legislation that supports trade union representation and collective bargaining and notes that the Occupy Wall Street movement might serve as a societal countermovement to the erosion of worker protections.

Subjects: Collective Bargaining, Flexibilization, Social & Economic Rights, Working Hours
Newsletter: Vol 12, Issue 3
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