Comparative Labor Law

Comparative Labor Law

Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series

Edited by Matthew W. Finkin and Guy Mundlak

Economic pressure and corporate policies, both transnational and domestic, have placed labor law under severe stress. National responses are so deeply embedded in institutions reflecting local traditions that meaningful comparison is daunting. This book assembles a team of experts from many countries, drawing on a rich variety of comparative methods to capture changes in different countries and regions, emerging trends and national divergences.

Chapter 3: The challenge to comparative labor law in a globalized era

Kerry Rittich and Guy Mundlak

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, labour, employment law


The comparative project in labor law is extraordinarily complex. Any such analysis requires an understanding of the nature of labor law, how this law emerges from and is constituted by social, political and industrial forces, and how law, in turn, affects the organization and operation of social, economic spheres, including in ways that are neither obvious nor predicted in advance. It has long been axiomatic that industrial relations systems, and collective rights in particular, are deeply embedded in national social and economic institutions as well as legal traditions, and, for this reason, are not easily transplanted or even comprehended beyond the context out of which they emerge. The field of labor law itself is defined differently in different national contexts; for example, in North America, it refers primarily to collective labor relations, while elsewhere it includes the broader field of employment rights. And if disentangling legal norms and institutions from the political, economic and social context in which they operate is always a challenge for comparative law, it is especially acute when it comes to labor law. As many scholars have noted, it is difficult, if not impossible, even to understand labor market norms by reference to formal law alone, as informal norms often play at least as important a role in determining workplace practices.

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