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Employee Relations: Understanding the Employment Relationship

Lewis, P, Thornhill, A and Saunders, M (2003) Employee Relations: Understanding the Employment Relationship Harlow, Financial Times, Prentice Hall. ISBN 0273646257

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Introduction The origins of this book go back to the mid-1980s when two of us were teaching what was then called ‘industrial relations’ to a variety of undergraduate and professional students. Most of those students approached the subject with trepidation. They thought that industrial relations was going to be the most ‘difficult’ of the subjects that were then grouped under the umbrella term ‘personnel management’. Since that time little has changed. Our students still have expectations about employee relations that cause them concern about its likely content. They think that it will be full of facts, of history, of law and, above all, trade unions of which most of them have little of no knowledge. But we are delighted to say that evaluations at the end of modules have shown us consistently that these fears have been not been realised. It would be nice to think that this was due to our magnetic personalities as teachers but this, sadly, is not the case. Employee relations is not simply facts, history, law and certainly not just about trade unions. These are just some of the ingredients in the rich mix that goes to make up the subject. Far from being dry and factual employee relations is about the everyday events that make up all of our working lives. It is fascinating and exciting, as many of our students' post-module evaluations tell us. Employee relations is a subject that lends itself to discussion, debate, argument and, sometimes, unshakable prejudice. It is a subject in which one is forced to confront and question one’s values. It is often quite difficult to convey the fascination and excitement of employee relations in a textbook. But this is the challenge we have set ourselves in Employee relations: understanding the employment relationship. Our challenge has been to achieve the traditional academic rigour of industrial/employee relations that the subject deserves while adopting a contemporary approach that students will find chimes with their working lives. In short, we have tried hard to make the book accessible and enjoyable. Employee relations: understanding the employment relationship is different to many of the employee relations text books currently available because it takes as its central theme the employment relationship between the employer and the employee. This concept is defined and discussed in chapter 1. It is sufficient to say here that the changes in employee relations over recent years mean that increasingly it is the individual relationship which each of us has with our employer (or, in some cases, employers) that is central in defining our working lives. The book is divided into three parts that reflect key aspects of the employment relationship. The first part is concerned with understanding the employment relationship. This comprises two chapters. Chapter 1 sets the scene for the rest of the book by defining and explaining the multi-faceted nature of the employment relationship. Chapter 2 investigates how the employment relationship is changing as a result of changes in the wider environment. The second part of the book is the most extensive of the three. In this part, we deal with regulation of the employment relationship. This starts with a chapter on some of the most important aspects of the employment relationship that relate to power and justice. Within Chapter 3, we also investigate the impact on the employment relationship of a concept that has grown in significance in recent years: culture. The next three chapters feature three key parties that have a role in regulating the employment relationship: managers (4), trade unions (5) and government (6). The ways in which these parties regulate the employment relationship is the focus of these three chapters. Chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10 change the emphasis and examine the processes and procedures that regulate the employment relationship. These are collective bargaining; employee involvement and employee participation; discipline and grievance; and reward. These chapters are principally concerned with the formal processes that regulate key aspects of the employment relationship. However, our intended emphasis in this text is to encourage readers to consider these aspects of the employment relationship by also thinking about them in relation to the content of other chapters in this book, notably 1 - 4. The third part of the book concentrates on ending the employment relationship. In this part, chapters 11 and 12 deal with dismissal and redundancy respectively. Chapter 11 on dismissal complements the earlier chapter on discipline. Chapter 12 on redundancy and organisational downsizing covers an important feature of any book on the employment relationship given the importance of this topic in recent years. Using the book Each chapter in the book follows the same format. Chapters commence with a set of learning outcomes. Within each chapter, there are a number of self-check questions. These are designed to help readers check that they have understood sections of a chapter. Answers are provided to self-check questions towards the end of each chapter. Each chapter also contains a summary of its key points. References are included to the material used in each chapter, which may also be used to indicate further reading. At the end of each chapter a case study has also been included that relates the themes discussed in the chapter to an organisational context. These case studies are accompanied by a number of focus questions to allow readers to explore and discuss important issues. These case studies should therefore allow further reflection about the theoretical material introduced in the main body of the chapter with the intention of reinforcing learning. A glossary has also been included in the book that lists key terms used in its chapters. We have designed this book to be of use to students on a range of programmes. Undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in business and management generally contain one or more modules related to employee relations, or to understanding the employment relationship. The coverage of this book is intended to offer students of such modules a useful and accessible reader around which to base their studies.

Item Type: Book
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Lewis, P
Thornhill, A
Date : 2003
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 May 2017 14:51
Last Modified : 23 Jan 2020 10:04

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