Principles of Employment Relations Sample Paper

Principles of Employment Relations Sample Paper


The main objective of this paper is to understand employment relations and their principles completely. This paper discusses about the various approaches that need to be taken into account while studying employment relations. This paper provides a clear understanding on these three approaches namely unitarism, pluralism, and radicalism. It helps in understanding the similarity and differences among these approaches and their relevance to employment relationships. Apart from this, it also assists in identifying the various elements that may have positive and negative impact on maintaining employment relations.

Employment Relations:

The term “employment relations” is often talked in workplace discussion and hence, it is of paramount importance to understand this comprehensively. Employment relations can be defined as a process of studying formal and informal rules and relationship through which employment relationship and people behaviors are governed at workplace. The term people behaviors refer to the way through which people at workplace interact and behave to each other (Farnham 2000).

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The three approaches in the context of employment relations and their discussions are given below:

Unitarist Approach:

This approach is based on the assumption that there is a mutual understanding and relationship between employer and employee and this is the base for employment relations. All the people in organization have a common purpose and shared goal. There is basically no dispute between employers who put capital into business and employee who put labor into business. They are practice at workplace and work accordingly. The followers of this approach of employment relations firmly believe that there is no place for conflict and if exists, it is perceived as temporary behavior and other than this it is seen as an outcome poor communication, faulty planning or trouble created by troublemakers (Gennard and Judge G. 2005).
Under this approach, trade unions are not welcome. Trade unions are understood as disturbing elements for unified structure of the organization and who stand against the management for employee’s loyalty. People who support this approach strongly believe in strong leadership and no communication gap by management who make every step to gain loyalty and commitment of employees. Employees are encouraged to be loyal and co-operative with the management under this approach. The analytical tool which is used in this approach to the study of the employment relations is human resource management (HRM). HRM involves process of planning human resource requirement, recruitment and selection, training, performance appraisal, retirement or dismissal etc (Wilton 2010).

Advantages of Unitarist Approach:

  • The most important advantage of this approach is that it openly wants to bring employer and employee closer to build and maintain employment relations.
  • Employee’s participation and coordination is highly appreciated.
  • It is based on beliefs of common interests and shared goal.
  • It supports the fact that fundamentally there is no conflict among employers and employee (Wilton 2010).

Disadvantages of Unitarist Approach:

Apart from various advantages there are few disadvantages are associated with this approach which are as follows:

  • The main disadvantage of this approach is that under this approach Trade Unions are not welcome and they are treated as unnecessary elements.
  • Managers often exercise their power on employees.
  • Conflict is not dealt positively and it is seen as temporary situation and an outcome of problem created by troublemaker (Bennett and Kaufman 2007).

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Criticism of Unitarist Approach:

This approach has attracted some criticism as well. Some critics say that it has taken narrow view of industrial conflict into consideration and it avoids basic problems such as employment security, conflict over power distribution etc.

Pluralist Approach:

There is a drastic change in the ways through which people at workplace are managed because in this dynamic environment one kind of approach cannot be much effective. The Pluralist approach is based on the ground that workplace is an association of distinct beliefs, values and behaviors and conflict is inherent among them. Under this approach, power is distributed among people in such a way that one cannot be dominated by other person. The state has a huge role in protecting interest of weaker class and restricting the power of influential class (Gennard and Judge G. 2005).
The prime role of management is to alleviate and eliminate the conflict of opinions. The nature of employment relationship in this approach is open-ended and undefined. One of the most significant aspects of Pluralist approach is that, unions are seen as supportive and lawful spokesperson of employee interest and welfare.  They are responsible for resolution of employee conflicts and challenging the management for public interests. Industrial conflict is seen as something which cannot be ignored and arises mainly because of distinct interests. Collective bargaining is encouraged in order to reconcile the conflict among the employer and employee (Wilton 2010).
The tool which helps in studying the employment relationship in this approach is neo-institutionalism. Neo-institutional is a theory that is based on how people interact to others and affects the society.

Advantages of Pluralist Approach:

  • The major advantage of this approach is that it supports the fact that conflict is inherent at workplace and it can be used positively to improve employment relations.
  • Power is distributed among different people at workplace in such a way that no one can dominate others.
  • Trade union’s participation is seen as necessary element to protect the interest of employees and challenging the management (Bennett and Kaufman 2007).

Disadvantages of Pluralist Approach:

  • This approach is highly focused on worker’s interest that may have negative impact on collective bargaining process.
  • This approach is highly inclined to procedures and rules and ignores the processes which are also a major factor in resolving the conflict (Colling and Terry 2010).

Criticism of Pluralist Approach:

Similar to Unitarist approach, Critics have also criticized Pluralist approach by saying it lacks equality. This approach has also been criticized for the recognition of inherent conflict.

Radical Approach:

The Radical Approach basically focuses on nature of capitalist society. This approach is one of the alternative approaches to the study of employment relationship. Under this approach, workplace is split into two segments labor class and employers who invest money into business. Conflict is usual because of unequal distribution of wealth. Power is centralized to those people who own capital and means of production and they are supported by state as well. Trade unions are an integral part of workplace who challenges management for the interest of workforce. The analytical tool which is used in this approach is labor processes (Redman and Wilkinson. 2002).

Advantages of Radical Approach:

  • This approach of employment relations is beneficial for those people who own the resources of production.
  • This approach supports formulation of worker associations and unions.
  • The state has a significant role in protecting the interest of capitalists who own the resources of production (Colling and Terry 2010).

Disadvantages of Radical Approach:

  • There is a wide gap between people who own the resources of production and people who supply labor.
  • Conflict is natural as workplace is divided into two groups, capitalist and working class.
  • Power is centralized to people who own the resources of production and state also supports in protecting the interest of capitalists instead of protecting public interest (Colling and Terry 2010).

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It is crystal clear from above discussion that, various approaches are adopted by management to build and maintain strong employment relations. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages in maintaining relationship and eliminating conflicts. Unitarian approach strongly supports mutual understanding and coordination among employees and employers. Apart from this, it has common purpose and shared goal and industrial conflict is seen as temporary and unnecessary. Pluralist approach is mainly focused on distribution of work in such a way that no one can dominate others and it supports the belief that conflict is usual and cannot be ignored. In Radical approach, workplace is divided in two classes, namely capitalist class who own the resources of production and worker class who supply labor in production. Conflict is inherent due to unequal distribution of wealth. These three approaches are taken into practice at workplace in order to manage employer and employees relations.


Bennett, J. T. and Kaufman, B.E. 2007. What Do Unions Do?: A Twenty-Year Perspective. New Jersey. Transaction Publishers.
Colling, T and Terry, M. 2010. Industrial Relations: Theory and Practice. United Kingdom. John Wiley & Sons.
Farnham, D. 2000. Employee Relations in Context. Great Britain. Short run press.
Gennard, J and Judge, G. 2005. Employee Relations. London. CIPD Publishing.
Redman, T and Wilkinson, A. 2002. The Informed Student Guide to Human Resource Management.London. Cengage Learning EMEA.
Wilton, N. 2010. An Introduction to Human Resource Management. London. SAGE Publications Ltd.