- Elgar European Law series
Chapter 6: Workers and ‘Atypical’ Workers
Most books on domestic labour law would spend a lot of time identifying the subject’s ‘personal scope’: in other words, who are the beneficiaries of labour law? This is because a distinction usually needs to be drawn between labour law and commercial law. Those who are running their own businesses are generally thought not to need the protection of labour law so there is a need to distinguish these people from employees, who do. However, EU labour law has been imposed on existing national systems of labour law which already have mechanisms for solving this problem. Thus, in most instances EU labour law respects the Member States’ autonomy on the matter. This chapter will consider that approach and will explore some of the situations in which ‘worker’ is defined at EU level. In recent years, labour lawyers in many countries have become concerned with the ‘atypical’ workforce. These are individuals whose employment arrangements deviate in one or more respects from the norm of full-time work on an indefinite contract with the employer: for example, because they work part-time, on a fixed-term contract, or through an employment agency. Legal systems have reacted to these developments in varying ways. Some have sought to restrict the development, for example by limiting the number of times an individual’s contract can be renewed on a fixed-term basis. Other legal systems (including that of the UK) have not sought to regulate atypical work at all, instead adopting the view that it offers employers a flexible source...
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