Labour and employment law was only just emerging in its modern form in Marx and Engels’ day. However, it was important to their larger studies, and it features in their efforts to understand the nature and origins of capitalism. While Marx and Engels were never concerned with developing a comprehensive account of labour and employment law, their work on the topic, augmented by that of their successors in the Marxist tradition, forms the basis of a uniquely revealing perspective on labour and employment law and its general role in capitalist society. This chapter draws upon this body of work, offering a critical overview of the origins of labour and employment law, its contradictory functions, and its definite limits as an institution of reform.
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