The primary distinction in an employment relations approach is that between employers, who buy the labour of others and assume some degree of authority and control over them; self employed (or ‘own account’) workers who neither buy labour nor sell their labour to others; and employees, who sell their labour to employers. Employees are further differentiated according to the employment relations of their occupation, employers are separated by size of establishment and the self-employed according to occupation (see Appendix 1). Broadly speaking, the kind of contracts employees have depend upon:
- (a) how easily their work may be monitored and controlled by the employer and
- (b) ‘asset specificity’, i.e. how specific and crucial their knowledge of technical and organizational issues is to the employer.
When monitoring is difficult and asset specificity is high, a service relationship will be typical; labour contracts apply where labour is more easily replaceable in these terms. The following category descriptions name and define each class and discuss associated operational issues.
- Class 1: Large employers, higher grade professional, administrative and managerial occupations: ‘the higher salariat’
- Class 2: Lower grade professional, administrative and managerial occupations: higher grade technician and supervisory occupations: ‘the lower salariat’
- Class 3: Intermediate occupations: ‘higher grade white collar workers’
- Classes 4 and 5: Small employers and self-employed in non-professional occupations: ‘petit-bourgeoisie or independents’
- Class 6: Lower supervisory and lower technician occupations: ‘higher grade blue collar workers’
- Class 7: Lower services, sales and clerical occupations: ‘lower grade white collar workers’
- Class 8: Lower technical occupations: ‘skilled workers’
- Class 9: Routine occupations: ‘semi- and unskilled workers’
- Class 10: Never worked and long-term unemployed: ‘unemployed’
- The non-employed
- Six, five and three class models