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Contemporary Employment Relations - Essay Example

7 pages
1721 words
Harvey Mudd College
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Employment relations in the contemporary world have become so diverse and heavily influences by various aspects of the modern world. Over time, employment relations have become a distinct topic from human resources management. The development of employee relations as a discipline on its own has risen due to the wide and broad application of its fundamental perspectives in the modern world (Abbott et al., 2016). Essentially, employment relationship deals with the significant link that exists between the employers and their employees. This relationship is subject to influence by various aspects of the social, legal and economic perspectives. However, employment relations is not an academic discipline in its own right as it is subject to findings and principles found in other disciplines.

The framework of employment relationship exists in the rules and regulations that support the existing relationship. Ideally, between every employer and employee, there exists a set of rules and regulations that govern their relationship in the workplace through various perspectives (Boxall, 2014). The relationship is however noted to be oriented to policies, regulations, and laws of employment. Scholars provide significant theoretical and practical perspective that alight to the central topic of this paper. The employment relationship is therefore considered as a critical social science as it deals with issues surrounding the nature of the existing relationship between the employers and employees of different organizations in different locations in the world (Bingham & Duran-Palma, 2014).

It is prudent to note the current issues regarding employment relations throughout the world before moving further to discuss critical components of the topic in question. An ideal issue that has recently faced various parts of the world that has significantly affected employment relations is the Brexit. The exit of Britain from the European Union created an unclear situation as to what extent the Employment laws in the European Union laws will affect the United Kingdom in the Future (Bach & Bordogna, 2013). This issue not only affected the employee but also the employers as they legal framework upon which employment relations in the United Kingdom were built upon had crumbled and another framework put in place.

According to (neo-pluralism), the arguments regarding the case for a reframing of employment relations with time are subject to the existing contexts of politics and economics that differ from one another. Neo-pluralism suggests as a different term, job regulation when dealing with employment relations from a political and economic perspective (McDonald & Thompson, 2015). Job regulation refers to the rules and regulations that govern employment, in addition to the process of the making and alteration of such rules (Abbott et al., 2016). The underlying theoretical framework of the discipline of employment relations is significant in gaining a sound comprehension of the how reframing and alterations have taken place over the years since the term was first established (Kaufman, 2015).

The new-pluralists argues that currently, employment relations have placed an unwavering emphasis on the importance of internal workplace relations while intentionally excluding the significant considerations of ethics. This has in turn affected employment relations by subjecting them the effect of a social change in the larger western world (Ackers, 2010). Traditionally, employment relations did not focus on the contemporary issues of the relationship between society and employment.

Nowadays, employment relations are affected by the significant social change which impacts either positively or negatively in the process of making rules and regulations governing the same. It is critical to note that neo-pluralists support the impact of traditional focus on the rulemaking process with particular regard to social institutions in addressing the changes affecting employment relationship in the 21st century (Bach & Bordogna, 2013). The argument brought forth by neo-pluralists is sound and begs to listen as it provides viable solutions for an existing problem in the contemporary world.

The interdisciplinary nature of employment relations is dependent on the different aspects of politics, law, psychology, economy, history, sociology and geography. All these aspects relate to employment relations in one way or another. However, the modern definition of employment relation is underpinned and largely undermined by the need for flexibility. Industrial relations, another term for employment relations that was traditionally used is identified by the social relations and job regulations in the modern work environment (Ackers, 2010). The traditional definition alludes to the interaction and behaviors of people at work which is largely identified to be affected by the aspects mentioned above. The modern perspective with which employment relations is approached with has surpassed the influence of theoretical and practical underpinnings of the discipline.

The fundamental definition has changed to incorporate individual perspectives regarding employment relations. The basic conclusion that employment relations are interdisciplinary by nature can, therefore, be affirmed to be true. This has been disbanded to be mere speculations by scholars who have shown keen interest throughout the development of the term as it is applied in the contemporary world (Bingham & Duran-Palma, 2014). Therefore, it would be prudent to look further into the theoretical perspectives that affect the issue of contemporary employment relations to gain a better understanding of the discipline.

There are three fundamental perspectives that provide distinguished approaches to the issue of employment relations. One of the perspectives, a plural perspective was mentioned earlier in the paper provides neo-institutional approaches (Tapia & Kochan, 2015). The other two perspectives include the radical and unitarist perspectives. The radical perspectives form the argument that enables the labor process approach while the unitarist perspective works towards informing various functions of human resource management (HRM) (Bingham & Duran-Palma, 2014). The aforementioned neo-institutionalism approach, which institutes a pluralist perspective begs to differ with all the other approaches to employee relations. A keen understanding of the pluralist perspective is first required to sufficiently comprehend the neo-institutionalism approach. The pluralist perspective considers the interest of all the existing parties (McDonald & Thompson, 2015). First, the pluralist perspective identifies that because all parties have their own interests, conflict becomes inevitable (Abbott et al., 2016). This is due to the competing interests. However, while there are competing interests, power is not dominated by any single party.

Therefore, there arises the need to negotiate and bargain between the involved parties. As such, the employment relationship is characterized by bargaining groups between which the power is divided accordingly. The pluralist perspective acknowledges that there is a limit to the power the state has over industrial relations (In Wilkinson et al., 2017). The state is regarded as an impartial entity. This depicts that its function is to serve the public interest. This allows for the existence of trade unions which have become one of the crucial entities of employment relations. Ideally, the function of trade unions is to provide employees with a legitimate reason or right to bargain for their interests in the modern work environment.

However, there exists significant criticism that opposes the approaches of pluralist perspective. The criticism alludes that the theory of pluralism is unclear on the basis that power is never diffused in an even manner amongst the involved parties in the employment relationship. This comes about due to the realization that the management stands to hold more power in the workplace (Bach & Bordogna, 2013). Furthermore, managerialist thinking stands to obscure the emphasis to rationally approach conflict situations. All these, together with the assumption that process is neglected when placing emphasis on the existing rules and regulations tend to discredit the approached brought forth by the pluralist perspective. The neo-institutionalism approach, however, stands to be a vivid extension of the pluralist perspective by emphasizing on the significant role of rule-making and formation of regulations and policies within the employment relationship (Ackers, 2010).

Apart from the pluralist perspective, there exists the unitarian approach, derived from the unitarist perspective which tends to unify different interests that exist within the employment relationship. The unitarist perspective idealizes the relationship to be one which is unified by the existence of shared goals and a common purpose (In Wilkinson et al., 2017). It categorically assumes that there exists no fundamental conflict of interest between capital and labor which represents the involved parties in the employment relationship. Unitarian approach argues that conflict unusual since it is established by poor communications and poor management practices.

This perspective lacks sufficient reasons to support the role of trade unions in the process of legitimizing employees rights to bargain for their interests. Trade unions are therefore perceived as unwelcome and unnecessary intrusions that are highly influential due to the complete loyalty of employees. In the same perspective, the unitarism approach identifies the crucial role of a strong management (Townsend & Dundon, 2015). A strong management is particularly founded upon scientific management methods that allude to Taylorism (Abbott et al., 2016). This depicts the need to find one best way that can be implemented as a management strategy. This stands to show that the unitarist and pluralist perspective quite different from one another and cannot be reconciled in any way (Kim & Bae, 2017).

The last perspective which is the radical perspective idealizes the use of radical processes and identifies the radical nature of employment relations. The radical perspective is found upon the acknowledgement of diverging interests, the ideal division of power, role of management and trade unions as well as the function of the state in protecting the interests of different groups (Storey, 2015). The radial perceptive informs the argument by pointing out the reality of the situation. Radically, there cannot cease to be conflicts of interests in the employment relationship. It is very common to find that there are inherent and fundamental conflicting interests between workers and the management (Kim & Bae, 2017).

Consequently, the radical perspectives identify the uneven distribution of power amongst the bargaining parties in the context of society and the workplace. Regarding the role of the trade unions, the main objective is to challenge the managerial control while fighting for the employees interests. Regarding the state, it is implied that its function deviates from its real function which is frequently carried out, the latter being protecting the interests of the capitalists while the former alludes to protecting the public interest.

However, the radical perspective is highly criticized because it is preoccupied with conflict. This alludes to the fact that the presence or rather the string existence of conflicting interests is inevitable and stands to perceive the management as controlling. Therefore, this obscures any efforts towards shared goals and cooperation between the management and the workers. Consequently, with its assumptions on the real objective of the state,...

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