Introduction employees (Loudon, McPhail & Wilkinson 2015). Employment relations


between employers and employees results establishment of employment relations,
which is characterized by creation of obligations and rights for the employer
and the employees (Loudon, McPhail & Wilkinson 2015).  Employment relations involves different issues
such as the employment and working conditions and determination of pay.  According to Dainty and Loosemore (2013), employment
relationship is governed by law. This means that the government is a key actor
or player in employment relations. However, the law is not adequate in
providing protection to employers and employees rights and obligations.  As a result, there are different actors or key
players in employment relations. These actors are established by duly elected
government of the day and include government agencies such as the judiciary,
policy, employment advisory institutions and the civil service.  These actors form the state and are the third
party in employment relations.  

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actors are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the stipulated
policies are optimally implemented (Wilkinson, Wood & Deeg 2014). Thus, the
actors have discrete function and purpose in the employment relations. For
example, the agencies may contribute in shaping labour laws, collective
bargaining agreements (CBAs) and public policy (Marginson 2016). This indicates
that the state is a political apparatus in employment relations. Williams and
Adam-Smith (2009) notes that the state comprises a very powerful actor in
employment relations because it has the capacity to apply force in
implementation of the employment or labour policies that it has formulated. This
paper seeks to explore why and to what extent the state is an important actor
in employment relations. This goal is achieved by evaluating the impact or
influence that the state have in employment relationship.

on the impact of state on employers

One of
the fundamental function of the state entails setting laws. Amongst the areas
of law that the state is concerned with relates to employment law. According to
Schultz (2014), employment law is complex in that it is comprised of legal
rules in addition to the stipulated labour laws. Employment law regulates the
relationship between employers and employees. 
Subsequently, it influences the conduct of employers towards employees
in a number of ways.

 By setting employment laws, the state
stipulates the rights of workers, both collectively and individually. At the
individual level, the state sets rules that impacts the employer’s behaviour
towards employees. One of the notable ways through which the state influences
employers entail setting the national minimum wage, which refers to the lowest
level of wage that is permitted in law or by a special pact (Cunningham 2007). The
state has the power to set national minimum wage level (Singh 2011).  Employers are subsequently required to comply
with such laws.  The UK introduced the
National Minimum Wage Act 1998. In the UK, the national minimum wage (NMW) entails
the minimum hourly pay that workers below 25 years are legally entitled to. The
NMW is subject to change as illustrated by appendix 1 (Acas 2018). Employers
who do not comply with this legal requirement may face diverse consequences. For
example, such employers may be named and shamed which is stipulated under the
name and shame policy. Alternatively, such employers may face criminal
prosecution (Low Pay Commission Great Britain 2006).

            Collectively, the state may compel employers to allow
employees establish trade/workers unions in order to enable them champion their
employment rights. Under the Employment Relation Act 1999, employees in the UK
have a right to establish workers union in order to provide them an opportunity
to be represented through collective bargaining. Additionally, the UK
government further enacted the Employment Act 2002, which provides employees
the right to compel employers to establishing a conducive environment for work
for example by designing flexible working arrangement (Gennard & Judge 2005;
Kidner 2017). One of the employees’ rights that employers are required to
comply with entail ensuring that employees work in a safe and healthy
environment. Employers are therefore required to comply with the set safety and
health standards.

aspects highlight the state acts as an intermediary between employers and
employees who may be characterized by competing interests.  For example, employers may wish to pay
employees relatively lower wages in order to minimize the cost (Williams &
Adam-Smith 2009). However, the state compels them to pay employees an
acceptable level of wages. As an intermediary, the government protects
employees from discrimination and unfair treatment. Thus, the state plays a
significant role in influencing the employers conduct by undertaking its
legislative role.    

Arguments on impact
of state on employees and TUs

state impacts the extent to which employees are treated at the workplace. As a
result, it plays an important role in enhancing diversity and equality at the
workplace. The UK government enacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Act which
has played a remarkable role in minimizing cases of discrimination in accessing
employment opportunities irrespective of the job candidate/employees
demographic characteristics such as race, age, gender and nationality (Aldgate
2007). Through its legislative capacity, the state has therefore influenced
firms to establish a diverse workforce.

 Trade unions constitute an essential component
in employment relations. They entail organisations established by
workers/employees with the objective of protecting and promoting the members
welfare in their workplace (Howell 2005). In most cases, trade unions operate
independently, which means that they are not influenced by the employers. In
spite of the independence, the state may intervene in establishment and
protection of trade unions (Berger & Compston 2002).  One of the ways through which the state may intervene
entail putting pressure on employers to recognize and respect the rights of trade
unions.  Therefore, the state is a
central actor in the establishment and promotion of trade unions.  This assertion is underlined in the case of
the UK in which the House of Lords intended to introduce a bill that would have
had adverse effects on trade unions. The bill proposed the remove the clause
that prohibits employers from using agency workers in replacing permanent
employees during strikes. In response to this proposal, the United Nations
advised the UK government to review the controversial clause in order to avoid
contravention of the international labour law (Perraudin 2016). This highlights
that the state has a significant impact on the survival and success of trade
unions in championing for the employees’ rights.

the state may also intervene in resolving disputes between trade unions and the
employer. For example, in cases whereby the trade unions and the employer are
influenced in distributive bargaining, the state may intervene as mediator.
Bendix (2001) assert that distributive bargaining mainly entail application of
power tactics as every side tries to attain a favourable outcome.  Distributive bargaining largely centre on
economic aspects such as wage level. Employees may be pressuring the employers
for higher pay contrary to the will of the employer.  In such an occurrence, the state may act as a
mediator hence assisting in establishment of a position that is agreed by the
parties. For example, the state may compel the trade union to adopt a certain favourable
stand such as calling off strike.  

government also influences the operations of trade unions in implementing the
collective bargaining approach with the employer. For example, the state may
assist in formulation of the bargaining structure. According to Bendix (2001),
the bargaining structure determine the employees to be protected by a
particular agreement in the event that the pact becomes legally enforceable. The
bargaining structure further details the extent to which the trade unions can exercise
power during negotiations.  In addition
to this, the bargaining structure 
affects the level to which trade union representatives can participate
in the decision making (Tolliday & Zeitlin 2010). On the basis of its role
in the establishment of the bargaining structure, the state has the capacity to
influence the efficiency and effectiveness with which trade unions undertake
their role.

summary, the state fosters the trade union’s ability to engage in collective
bargaining with employers. The enactment of the Employment Act 2008 has
strengthened trade union’s role in undertaking dispute resolution (Baker 2010).
Moreover, the Act has restricted employers from prohibiting trade union

on impact of globalisation on state  

relations systems are deeply entrenched in national institutions as opposed to
international/global institutions. For example, national governments
determine/shape the relationship between employers, employees and trade unions.
The growing rate of globalization is increasingly challenging the role of the
state in employment relations. One of the sources of challenge in the states’
quest to undertake their role in employment relation relates to increase in the
rate of cross-border movement of labour. 
Nevertheless, the central role of the state in shaping employment
relations remains unchanged.

refers to the process through with the world is progressively becoming
interconnected hence resulting in improved cultural exchange and trade (Navarro,
Schmitt & Astudillo 2004). The high rate of globalization is increasingly
shaping different components of the society.  The fact that globalization is based on the
concepts of economic liberalization and deregulation has reduced the state
ability in undertaking its regulatory role with regard to employment relations.
Globalisation pressures countries to focus on establishment of a free market
that is characterized by minimal government interference. Through this
approach, globalization impacts states’ power to control different aspects of
employment relations. For example, globalization results in increased flexibility
in the labour market as evidenced by cross-border movement of labour.

 Due to lack of a comprehensive legal and
regulatory framework to govern cross-border movement of labour, the state’s
capacity to provide labour protection at the national level is significantly
reduced.  Globalization has had a
negative impact on states power in enacting labour standards. For example,
enactment of labour standards may be influenced by international labour
agencies such as the International Labour Organisation (Philips & Eamets

One of
the factors that have stimulated growth of globalization entail increase in the
rate of foreign direct investment.  Governments
as state actors are increasingly encouraging foreign direct investment as a way
of fostering their countries economic growth. Nevertheless, states quest to
promote economic growth and development by embracing the concepts of
globalization has presented a major challenge to governments’ effectiveness in
promoting employment protection and social welfare. For example, the
international organisations may result in exploitation of employees (Baccaro
2008). This indicates that the globalization has resulted in competing interests
between states quest to retain capital from foreign direct investment and to
ensure optimal provision of employment protection in the labour market.


analysis conducted above highlights that the state plays a fundamental role in
employment relations and has a remarkable impact on employment relations. One
of the ways through which the state influences employment relations is
underlined by its legislative capacity. The state sets laws, rules, regulations
and standards that guide the behaviour and conduct of different actors in
employment relations. By setting employment laws, the state impacts how employers
treat employees in the workplace. Employers are pushed by the state to comply
with different laws and regulations. For example, employers are required by law
to adhere to the national minimum wage in compensating workers. Failure to
comply may result in employers facing criminal prosecutions. Additionally, the
state impacts how the employers treat employees at the workplace by requiring
employers to ensure that they establish an environment that is conducive for
employees to work in. Some of the issues that employers are required to comply
with include ensuring employee health and safety.

analysis further shows that the state has a significant impact on employee
protection. As a result, it impacts strengthens the effectiveness with which
trade unions provide employees protection for their rights at the workplace.
For example, the state influences the establishment of trade unions by being involved
in the formulation of the bargaining structure. Additionally, the state’s role
as a mediator between employers and trade unions enables employees to be
adequately protected.   However, the state’s
role in employment relations is increasingly being threatened by the growing
rate of globalization. This arises from the fact that its capacity to enact
labour laws and regulations at the national level is limited by the involvement
of international actors such as foreign governments. Additionally,
globalization has resulted in competing interest between the state’s need to
promote economic growth by encouraging foreign direct investment and providing
employees protection from exploitation by international agencies.  In spite of this challenge, the state remains
an important actor in employment relations.




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National minimum wage in the UK


Date of rate

25 and over

21 to 24

18 to 20

Under 18


From April 2018






From April 2017 to March 2018






Source: (Acas 2018)