The Legal Notion of the Employer

The notion of the employer is an important regulatory tool in employment law, operating however without conscious definition or coherent conceptualisation. The first part of the presentation, building on doctoral research by Jeremias Prassl, will identify two tensions inherent in the current notion that result from this lack of analysis: the notion is a multifunctional yet unitary one, and assumed to be substantively identical across different regulatory layers. These tensions lead to unclear edges and incoherence in employment law coverage, particular in instances beyond a narrow bilateral paradigm situation.

The second part of the presentation then turns to an attempt at conceptualising a more coherent notion, in a way that may be superimposed on existing law. In order to address the dysfunctionality identified, the notion of the employer needs to acquire plasticity: a single notion of the employer does not imply a substantively identical notion. Instead, a functional approach is proposed, with the legal notion of the employer defined as the entity or entities best placed to fulfil the functions (or purpose) of the employer, as relevant in each regulatory layer.

In the final part of the presentation Professor Mark Freedland will discuss the place of this work in the Legal Construction of Personal Work Relations.