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International Labour Organisation



 

 

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), whose headquarters are in Geneva, is one of the oldest surviving international bodies, and the only surviving international body set up at the time of the League of Nations following the First World War. Its guiding principle is that "labour is not a commodity" to be traded in the same way as goods, services or capital, and that human dignity demands equality of treatment and fairness in dealing within the workplace. The ILO has drawn up numerous conventions on what ought to be the labour standards adopted by countries party to it. Countries are then obliged to ratify the Conventions in their own national law. However, there is no enforcement of this, and in practice most conventions are not agreed to, even if they are adhered to.

British labour law

The Factory Acts (first one in 1802, then 1833) and the 1832 Master and Servant Act were the first laws regulating labour relations in the United Kingdom. Their titles give a very effective summary of how the employment relationship was viewed up until the late 1950s. The vast majority of employment law before 1960 was based upon the Law of Contract. Since then there has been a significant expansion primarily due to the "equality movement" and the European Union. There are three sources of Law: Acts of Parliament called Statutes, Statutory Regulations (made by a Secretary of State under and Act of Parliament) and Case Law (developed by various Courts).

The first significant modern day Employment Law Act was the Equal Pay Act of 1970 although as it was a somewhat radical concept it did not come into effect until 1972. This act was introduced as part of a concerted effort to bring about equality for women in the workplace. Despite the fact that it has now been in place for more than thirty years, women in the UK still earn an average wage that is considerably below the equivalent wage for men. Since the election of the Labour Government in 1997, there have been many changes in UK employment law. These include enhanced maternity and paternity rights, the introduction of a National Minimum Wage and the Working Time Directive which covers working time, rest breaks and the right to paid annual leave. Discrimination law has also been tightened, with protection from discrimination now available on the grounds of age, religion or belief and sexual orientation as well as gender, race and disability.

Advice on employment law in the UK is available from a variety of sources, including the ACAS helpline or, for workers in Scotland, the Scottish Low Pay Unit Employment Rights Advice Line. Advice on sex discrimination at work is available from the Equal Opportunities Commission. There are also a number of useful sources of information on the internet, such as the Department of Trade and Industry website and the Scottish Low Pay Unit's online employment rights pack.

United States labor law

In the United States, employers generally accepted the 8-hour day as of 1912. The Wages and Hours Act of 1938 set the maximum standard work week to 44 hours, and in 1950 this was reduced to 40 hours. The green cards entitle legal immigrants to work permits, although an illegal alien may often work in the States because of compartmentalization of various bureaucratic entities. Despite the 40-hour standard maximum work week, some lines of work require more than 40-hours to complete the tasks of the job. For example, if you prepare agricultural products for market you can work over 72 hours a week, if you want to, but you cannot be required to. If you harvest products you must get a period of 24 hours off after working up to 72 hours in a seven-day period. There are exceptions to the 24 hours break period for certain harvesting employees, like those involved in harvesting grapes, tree fruits and cotton. Professionals, clerical (administrative assistants), technical, and mechanical employees can not be terminated for refusing to work more than 72 hours in a workweek.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution limit the power of the federal and state governments to discriminate. The private sector is not directly constrained by the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment has an explicit requirement that the Federal Government not deprive individuals of "life, liberty, or property," without due process of the law and an implicit guarantee that each person receive equal protection of the laws. The Fourteenth Amendment explicitly prohibits states from violating an individual's rights of due process and equal protection. Equal protection limits the State and Federal governments' power to discriminate in their employment practices by treating employees, former employees, or job applicants unequally because of membership in a group, like a race, religion or sex. Due process protection requires that employees have a fair procedural process before they are terminated if the termination is related to a "liberty," like the right to free speech, or a property interest.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits employment discrimination based on age with respect to employees 40 years of age or older. This Act was created to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment because in the face of rising productivity and affluence, older workers find themselves disadvantaged in their efforts to retain employment, and especially to regain employment when displaced from jobs; the setting of arbitrary age limits regardless of potential for job performance has become a common practice, and certain otherwise desirable practices may work to the disadvantage of older persons; the incidence of unemployment, especially long-term unemployment with resultant deterioration of skill, morale, and employer acceptability is, relative to the younger ages, high among older workers; their numbers are great and growing; and their employment problems grave; and the existence in industries affecting commerce, of arbitrary discrimination in employment because of age, burdens commerce and the free flow of goods in commerce.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is the principal federal statute with regard to [employment discrimination] prohibiting unlawful employment discrimination by public and private employers, [labor organizations], training programs and employment agencies based on race or color, religion, sex, and national origin. Retaliation is also prohibited by Title VII against any person for opposing any practice forbidden by statute, or for making a charge, testifying, assisting, or participating in a proceeding under the statute. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 expanded the damages available to Title VII cases and granted Title VII plaintiffs the right to jury trial.

Property law

Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. In the civil law system, there is a division between movable and immovable property. Movable property roughly corresponds to personal property, while immovable property corresponds to real estate or real property, and the associated rights and obligations thereon.

The concept, idea or philosophy of property underlies all property law. In some jurisdictions, historically all property was owned by the monarch and it devolved through feudal land tenure or other feudal systems of loyalty and fealty.

Though the Napoleonic code was among the first government acts of modern times to introduce the notion of absolute ownership into statute, protection of personal property rights was present in more feudalist forms in the common law courts of medieval and early modern England.

Definition of property

In Roman law, property was defined as follows: ius utendi et abutendi re sua, quatenus iuris ratio patitur, 'the right to use and abuse a thing, within the limits of the law'.

One modern textbook on property law states:

When a layman is asked to define "property," he is likely to say that "property" is something tangible "owned" by a natural person (or persons), a corporation, or a unit of government. But such a response is inaccurate from a lawyer's viewpoint for at least two reasons: (1) it confuses "property" with the various subjects of "property," and (2) it fails to recognize that even the subjects of property may be intangible.

For a lawyer, "property" is not a "thing" at all, although "things" are the subject of property. Rather, as Jeremy Bentham asserted, property is a legally protected "expectation * * * of being able to draw such or such an advantage from the thing" in question [ . . . .]

Black's Law Dictionary (5th ed. 1979) states that "[in the strict legal sense, [property is] an aggregate of rights which are guaranteed and protected by the government" and that the term property "includes not only ownership and possession but also the right of use and enjoyment for lawful purposes."

By contrast, Barron's Law Dictionary (2d ed. 1984) defines property as "one's exclusive right to possess, use, and dispose of a thing" [ . . . ] "as well as the object, benefit, or prerogative which constitutes the subject matter of that right."

Property law can be divided into personal and real property. Real property concerns itself with rights in rem, or relating to land. Personal property concerns itself with rights in personam, or relating to chattels. Gray & Gray (1998) describe the definition of property in the modern sense as oscillating between 'competing models of property as a fact, property as a right, and property as a responsibility'[2] Declared ownership in and of itself is insufficient to constitute property in a legal sense. Rather, the notion of property arises where one can have his/her right to land or chattels respected and enforced by a court of law. Therefore to possess good title (and thus enforceable rights) on property one must acquire it legitimately, according to the laws of the jurisdiction in which one seeks enforcement.

Theory of property

Early American theory

James Wilson, Supreme Court Justice and professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, in 1790 and 1791, undertook a survey of the philosophical grounds of American property law. He proceeds from two premises: “Every crime includes an injury: every injury includes a violation of a right.” The government’s role in protecting property depends upon an idea of right. Wilson traces the history of property in his essay On the History of Property. In his lecture, “Of the natural rights of individuals,” he articulates related contemporary theory.

That theory was brought to a focus on the question of whether man exists for the sake of government, or government for the sake of man – a distinction which may derive from, or lead to, the question of natural and absolute rights, and whether property is one of them. While he doubts this is so, he nonetheless states: “In his unrelated state, man has a natural right to his property, to his character, to liberty, and to safety.” James Wilson asks whether “the primary and principal object in the institution of government… was… to acquire new rights by human establishment? Or was it, by a human establishment, to acquire a new security for the possession or the recovery of those rights….?” He indicates a preference for the latter.

In the opening sentence of On the History of Property, he states quite clearly: “Property is the right or lawful power, which a person has to a thing.” He then divides the right into three degrees: possession, the lowest; possession and use; and, possession, use, and disposition – the highest. Further, he states: “Man is intended for action. Useful and skilful industry is the soul of an active life. But industry should have her just reward. That reward is property, for of useful and active industry, property is the natural result.” From this simple reasoning he is able to present the conclusion that exclusive, as opposed to communal property, is to be preferred. Wilson does, however, give a survey of communal property arrangements in history, not only in colonial Virginia but also ancient Sparta.







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