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Employment law is concerned with the relationship between employers and employees: the formation of that relationship, its conduct, its dissolution.
The employer-employee relationship
The law gives special treatment to the employer-employee relationship. It is distinguished from other forms of commercial transaction by a number of common - but by no means universal - features.
There is often a disparity of bargaining power in the employer's favour, both at the time the relationship is entered into and during the course of the relationship. This is connected to the fact that an employee will usually only have one employer, whereas an employer will often have multiple, sometimes many, employees. The relationship may be a long-term arrangement, and will often be of crucial importance to the life-plan of the employee. It may also, of course, be critical to the success of the business of the employer.
For these reasons, in part, the law interferes with the structure of employer-employee relations.
Lawyers undertaking employment law work fulfil several different functions.
Employment lawyers may be involved in the preparation of the documentation that should underpin the relationship: a contract of employment and ancillary employment policies. The legal documentation should comply with the employees rights, whilst protecting the employer's interests.
Employment lawyers also advise businesses and individuals on questions of employment law: what process should be used to appoint an employee? How should grievance and disciplinary proceedings be handled? What is the best way to terminate a particular relationship? How does the business protect itself from outgoing employees?
A third aspect of the work of employment lawyers is litigation: the management and resolution of disputes between employer and employees, whether through the courts, the employment tribunal system, or through some form of alternative dispute resolution.
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