Public Sector Employment in Ten Western Countries
Edited by Hans-Ulrich Derlien and B. Guy Peters
Chapter 2: Public Employment in Britain: From Working in to Working
2. Public employment in Britain: from working in to working for the public sector? Brian W. Hogwood DISTINCTIVE BRITISH FEATURES There are special features in Britain which cause problems of analysis of trends in Britain across time within Britain as well as comparison of apparently similar public employment status in other countries. An important feature of British public administration is its lack of public law basis. There is no legal deﬁnition of what constitutes public employment. Even the concept of a civil servant lacks such a basis (see Drewry and Butcher 1991, pp. 9–30) – and in fact the United Kingdom has more than one civil service! A second feature of Britain is that the concept of ‘civil servant’ is both narrower and wider than obtains in many other European countries, being conﬁned to direct employees of central government departments (leaving aside the problem of deﬁning what those are). Employees of bodies in receipt of state funds in Britain, such as universities even when these have a state charter, are not only not civil servants, but are not considered to be public employees at all. On the other hand, with minor exceptions, employees of central government departments, even the declining number of manual workers, are nearly all classiﬁed as civil servants. This leads on to a broader point of great relevance to analysing post1970s trends in Britain: the government classiﬁes employment as either public or private. Within the ‘private’ sector it does not distinguish for...
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