Skip to content

Detailed Category Descriptions and Operational Issues

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