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Wikilabour is a core glossary or defining dictionary compiled by the ETUI.org, that offers English to English definition of trade union terms or other concepts, especially for newcomers or transnational trade union officials actively engaged in the field of trade union activities. Compiled over many years, this glossary is a work in progress that contains a working vocabulary for non-native English speakers and definitions for important or frequently encountered concepts, including idioms or metaphors, useful in industrial relations. All sources are indicated for each of the words available.

A

  • Absenteeism - This describes a situation in which people do not come to work when they are supposed to. Absences from work could be planned or unplanned.
  • Accident - An unexpected event that causes an injury or damages something. An industrial accident is one that happens to an employee while they are doing their work.
  • Action - An ‘action’ can include a range of acts including lobbying, campaigns and demonstrations; however in a trade union context it usually includes industrial action, which is strike action or action short of a strike.
  • Activist - A trade union activist is someone who takes part in trade union actions and activities.
  • Affiliate - An affiliate (or affiliated organisation) is connected to a larger body or organisation.
  • Agency Worker - An agency worker is someone who gets a job through an employment agency. The work is often called 'temporary work', 'temping' or 'agency work'. The firm who hires the agency worker pays the employment agency, and the employment agency then pays the worker.
  • Agreement - This is a negotiated arrangement between two or more parties. Collective agreements are negotiated between employers and trade unions.
  • Algorithm - An algorithm is a detailed series of instructions for carrying out an operation or resolving a problem.
  • Allowance - This is a sum of money that is regularly paid to people to cover specific expenses. For example for training, holiday, bad weather etc.
  • Annual Accounts - These are the financial records of an organisation that registers all the company’s financial transactions. They are comprised of two parts: the balance sheet and the income statement. The annual accounts are prepared at the end of the financial year.
  • Annual Leave - This is time off work that is agreed with the employer. It is usually paid leave.
  • Appeal - In legal terminology, it means a formal request for a court of law to change a previous decision. It can be used as a verb (they appealed the decision) or as a noun (they lodged an appeal with the court).
  • Applicant - This is a person who requests something. A job applicant, for example, puts themselves forward as a candidate for a job.
  • Apprentice - This is someone who is taking vocational training that involves a combination of work-based training at a company with school or college-based education.
  • Apprenticeship - This is a form of vocational training which involves a combination of work-based training at a company with school or college-based education.
  • Arbitrate - If someone arbitrates a dispute, then they listen to the arguments from both sides of the disagreement and then find a settlement.
  • Arbitration - Arbitration is where an impartial person makes a decision on a dispute. Both sides in the dispute should agree to the decision of the arbitrator.
  • Arbitrator - This is a person who makes a judgement that the parties in the dispute agree to be bound by.
  • Assembly Line - This is an arrangement of tools, machinery and workers which involves each worker being assigned one very specific task. The process then moves on to the next worker who performs his/her task until the product is made.
  • Asset - (1) These are items that a person or company owns. It includes cash, securities, goodwill, machinery, and property. (2) In terms of accounting, it is the items on a balance sheet.
  • Association - This describes a group of people who organise activities together in order to achieve their common goals. We often refer to ‘employer associations’.
  • Atypical Employment - Atypical work refers to employment relationships that do not conform to the standard of ‘typical’ models of full-time, regular, open-ended employment with a single employer over a long time span.
  • Audit - An examination of the financial statements of an organisation in order to ensure that these financial records are accurate.
  • Auditor - This is someone who is authorised to examine an organisation’s financial records and ensure that the company has complied with tax laws.
  • Austerity Measures - Reductions in government spending and/or increases in tax revenues to lower budget deficits.
  • Automation - This refers to the use of digitally enabled machines to carry out work. This process usually involves the displacement of human labour.
  • Automatically Unfair Dismissal - An employer cannot justify a dismissal which is automatically unfair dismissal. Automatically unfair dismissal includes dismissals for being connected to a trade union, being pregnant, asserting a statutory right, seeking a minimum wage, or carrying out the functions of an elected employee representative.
  • Action Short of a Strike - This is industrial action that doesn’t involve going on strike. It involves action such as a ‘work to rule’ or a ‘go slow’.

B

  • Bad Faith - If someone acts in bad faith, they act in an intentionally dishonest way. For example, they might enter into an agreement without intending to honor that agreement. It is often used when describing a party in a negotiation that is just pretending to reach a settlement.
  • Balance of Power - This is a state of equilibrium in which no party (for example employers and employees) is powerful enough to control the other. If one party gets more power, we say the balance of power has shifted.
  • Balance Sheet - A company’s balance sheet gives information on its assets, liabilities and equity. The fundamental equation is assets = liabilities + equity.
  • Ballot - If a trade union ballots its members, it organises a vote (or ‘ballot’) to find out what its members would like to do in a specific situation. A ballot is often secret, so that no one knows how people voted.
  • Bank Holiday - This is an official holiday when most businesses are closed for the day.
  • Banked Hours - Banked hours’ is also known as ‘time off in lieu’. It refers to the hours that an employee works over his/her contracted hours (overtime). However, instead of receiving overtime pay for these hours these hours are ‘banked’, and can be taken as leave in the future at a time agreed between the employee and employer.
  • Bankrupt - This describes the process which results in a company or individual not being able to pay their debts.
  • Bankruptcy - This describes the state of not being able to pay your debts.
  • Bargain - This means to negotiate the terms and conditions of a contract, agreement or transaction.
  • Bargaining - This refers to the negotiation of terms, contracts or transactions. It is often used with ‘collective’ and ‘pay’ to describe the kind of bargaining trade unions carry out with employers. Bargaining can also be industrywide or nationwide.
  • Basic Agreement - This is a written agreement which contains contract clauses that will apply to future contracts between the parties. However it is not a contract.
  • Basic Award - In the UK, you receive a financial award if you have been unfairly dismissed. This award is made up of a basic award, which is a fixed sum calculated to a statutory formula; and a compensatory award, which compensates you for the money you have lost as a result of losing your job.
  • Basic Wage - This is the amount an employee earns before additional payments such as bonuses and overtime.
  • Benefit - This is something that employees get in addition to wages or salaries. It is also something useful or profitable which you receive from an organisation (for example a union). For instance, it could be cheaper holidays or legal advice. It can also refer to money provided by governments - for example, social security, unemployment benefit, or maternity benefit.
  • Bipartite Social Ddialogue - Social dialogue refers to discussions, consultations, negotiations and joint action involving organisations representing two sides of industry (employers and workers). Bipartite social dialogue takes place between European employers and trade union organisations.
  • Blackleg - A derogatory word for a strikebreaker.
  • Black Market - This is a market of goods and services which is not allowed by law. It is sometimes used to describe the illegal employment of workers for low wages.
  • Blockade - The surrounding of a place (such as a workplace) to prevent people or material coming in or going out.
  • Blue Collar - Blue collar is a term that is sometimes used to talk about manual industrial workers. Blue-collar workers are often assumed to be paid in wages (usually weekly). Compare with 'white collar'.
  • Board of Directors - A group of people who are elected to represent the shareholders and make decisions on major company issues.
  • Bogus Self-Employment - Also known as ‘false self-employment’, this describes the phenomenon of direct subordinated employment being disguised as self-employment.
  • Bonus - This is pay which is over the usual renumeration (wage or salary) that is agreed between the employer and the employee.
  • Boycott - Action taken by employees to put pressure on their employer by encouraging the public to abstain from using their products or services.
  • Branch - The branch of a trade union is the base unit of a trade union organisation. It can be based around a workplace, a region, or the sector in which workers are employed.
  • Breach - If an agreement or contract is breached, then one (or more) of the parties have broken the terms of the contract or agreement. The word can also be used as a noun. For example, ‘there was a breach of the contract’.
  • Break - If two people (or parties) agree to do something, and then one party doesn't do what he/she agreed to do, we say they break the agreement.
  • Break Down - We say negotiations break down when they end due to disagreements.
  • Break Off - This means to stop doing something for a period of time.
  • Breakway Union - These are unions that are formed by members of another union that feel their interests are not being properly represented.
  • Bully - This describes the act of hurting, threatening to harm, or frightening someone in order to get them to do something that they don’t want to do.

C

  • Call - This verb is often used to discuss industrial action. We say trade unions ‘call for’ industrial action. If the members support this action in a ballot, the union can ‘call a strike’. When the trade union decides to end (or not start) the strike, we say they ‘call off’ the industrial action.
  • Call-Out Payment - This is payment given to an employee for dealing with a situation by coming into work (or dealing with it remotely) outside of their normal working hours.
  • Campaign - Trade unions campaign by carrying out a series of actions designed to achieve a certain result.
  • Capability - This means the quality, power or ability to do something.
  • Capital - The money and assets of an individual, organisation, or company.
  • Carcinogen - This is a substance or agent that causes cancer.
  • Cartel - A group of companies (or countries) that control the price or supply of a product by mutually agreeing to control production of that product.
  • Case Law - This is a law that is based on decisions that have been made by judges in the past.
  • Cash-in-Hand - This is payment in cash (notes and coins), for which there is usually no record.
  • Casual Worker - A casual worker is someone on a temporary employment contract who has limited access to benefits and little or no security of employment. The main aspect of casual work is that there is an absence of a continuing relationship or any stability with an employer.
  • Chairperson - This is a person who presides over a meeting, formal discussion, a committee, or board. We can also use the words ‘chair’, ‘chairman’, and ‘chairwoman’.
  • Civil Servant - This is a person who works in a department of a country’s government, but who is not part of the military.
  • Civil Service - This is the administrative service of a government but it doesn’t include the armed forces.
  • Claim - In a legal context, a claim is a request to a court or tribunal for something that you believe you have a legal right to.
  • Claimant - A claimant brings a legal claim to a court or employment tribunal.
  • Click Work - Click work is a form of crowd work. This kind of work can be carried out by anyone who is registered on the platform. It is sometimes work that requires little or no skills or experience.
  • Clock in and out - When you ‘clock in’ you register your arrival at work. When you ‘clock out’ you register the time you leave work.
  • Closed Shop - This is an arrangement in which an employer agrees to only employ people who are members of the trade union.
  • Closure - The stopping of the operations of a company, institution or organisation.
  • Co-determination - This is a structure of decision making in a company or organization in which employees are able to influence management decisions.
  • Colleague - Your colleagues are the people who you work with. In US English the word ‘co-workers’ is more commonly used.
  • Collective Agreement - This is the result of negotiations between representatives of workers and employers on behalf of all employees (regarding pay, working practices, and working conditions.)
  • Collective Bargaining - This is the process of negotiation between representatives of workers and employers on behalf of all employees (regardingvpay, working practices, and working conditions.)
  • Collective Bargaining Coverage - This is the extent to which the terms of workers’ employment are influenced by collective negotiation. It describes the coverage rate, which is the number of employees covered by the collective agreement divided by the total number of employees.
  • Collective Redundancy - This describes a situation in which a large number of employees of a company lose their jobs. They don’t lose their job for disciplinary reasons but usually for economic reasons. The European Directive relating to collective redundancies gives the following definition: ‘dismissal affected by an employer for one or more reasons not related to the individual workers concerned’.
  • Committee - A group of people who come together to work on a project. The committee is usually appointed by a larger group.
  • Common Law - This is a system of law that is based on legal precedents and customs as opposed to written laws.
  • Company - A legal entity formed to engage in a business enterprise. Companies can be organised in various ways.
  • Company Law - The body of legislation which regulates the formation, registration, governance and dissolution of a company.
  • Compensation - This has two meanings. Firstly, it refers to money that is paid to someone in exchange for something that has been damaged or lost. For example workers might receive compensation if they have been injured or made ill at work. Secondly, it is also sometimes used to refer to payment (and other benefits) that employees receive for doing their job.
  • Compensatory Award - In the UK you receive compensation if an employment tribunal decides that you have been unfairly dismissed. This is comprised of a basic award and a compensatory award. The compensatory award compensates the employee for financial loss that is related to the dismissal.
  • Compulsory - Something that is required by a rule, regulation, or law. Something that is mandatory.
  • Complain - If you complain about something you say that you are unhappy or unsatisfied with something.
  • Complainant - This is a person who makes a formal complaint in a court of law.
  • Complaint - This is a statement that something is unsatisfactory, wrong, or unjust. In legal terminology, it refers to a legal document that details the facts and reasoning of a claim against another party.
  • Conciliation - This refers to parties in a dispute being brought together with an independent third party in order that the dispute can be resolved through negotiation.
  • Conditions - (1) Something that puts a qualified requirement on a legal term in a contract. (2) Working conditions are the working environment and the terms of the employment contract. This includes the organisation of work, training, skills, health and safety, working time and work-life balance.
  • Conduct - We use this to refer to how activities are managed or carried out. For example, trade unions conduct campaigns, negotiations, demonstrations etc.
  • Confederation - (1) A trade union confederation is an organisation that brings together affiliated trade unions to further the interests of trade unions at national and international levels. (2) An organisation that comprises various groups that work together to achieve common business or political goals.
  • Conflict of Interests - A situation in which a person’s self interest clashes with the public interest. A person who has a conflict of interests may find it difficult to behave in an impartial manner.
  • Constructive Dismissal - If an employee claims constructive dismissal, they claim that their employer behaved in such a way as to force them to resign from their job.
  • Consult - This means ‘to discuss something with someone before you make a decision’. It can also refer to getting information from someone (or a particular source like a book or an internet page).
  • Consultation - This describes the act of consulting or being consulted, which in a trade union context usually refers to management discussing their plans with trade unions before they make a decision.
  • Contract of Employment - This is usually a written contract that states the terms and conditions under which a person agrees to carry out specified work for an agreed upon wage or salary.
  • Contractual - Something that relates to something that is written in a legal contract.
  • Convener - This is someone whose job it is to call people together for committee meetings.
  • Convenor - In the UK, this is an experienced trade union representative who represents the workforce at meetings with management to negotiate pay and conditions. It can also be spelt as ‘convener’.
  • Corporate Governance - This refers to all the processes, mechanisms and relations by which corporations are run. It refers to the structures and principles that determine the rights and responsibilities of stakeholders and participants in the corporation.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility - The European Commission defines CSR as ‘the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society’. The Commission further states that CSR ‘refers to companies voluntarily going beyond what the law requires to achieve social and environmental objectives during the course of their daily business activities.’
  • Cost of Living - This is the amount of money that you need to afford basic expenses such as housing, food, and taxes.
  • Costs - This has several meanings. (1) An amount of money paid for a good or service. Employers have labour costs, for example, which is the payment of wages and salaries. (2) Money that the losing party in a court case has to pay the winning party to cover legal expenses.
  • Counselling - Career counselling is professional guidance which utilises interviews and tests to assess interests and aptitudes.
  • Council of Europe - The Council of Europe, not to be confused with the Council of the European Union, is a human right’s organisation. All Council of Europe member states have signed up to the European convention on Human Rights.
  • Council of the European Union - In the Council, government ministers from each EU country meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws, and coordinate policies.
  • Court of Appeal - A Court of Appeal is a law court that deals with appeals against legal judgements. An ‘appeal’ is a formal request for a court of law to change a previous decision.
  • Crowd Employment - Also known as ‘crowd sourcing’ and ‘crowd work’. In 2015, EurWork defines it as employment that ‘uses an online platform to enable organisations or individuals to access an indefinite and unknown group of other organisations or individuals to solve specific services or products in exchange for payment. It aims to organise the outsourcing of tasks to a large pool of online workers rather than to a single employee.
  • Cut - This means 'to reduce’ or ‘decrease’ something. For example, employers can cut pay and jobs. They can also cut the number of hours available to workers.
  • Cyclical Unemployment - This is the change in the rate of unemployment that is the result of what is known as the economic cycle. The economic cycle refers to recessions and economic booms.

D

  • Damages - If a person or organisation causes harm to another person or organisation, a court of law may order them to pay damages to the person or organisation who has been harmed. This is an amount of money designed to compensate the affected party.
  • Deadlock - This describes a situation in which no progress can be made.
  • Decent Work - The ILO defines decent work as work that delivers a fair income, security in the workplace, social protection for families, social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organise and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all men and women.
  • Decision - A "decision" is binding for those to whom it is addressed (e.g. an EU country or an individual company) and is directly applicable.
  • Deduction - This is something that has been subtracted from a total. It is commonly used to refer to amounts of money taken from pay, (pay deduction or payroll deduction) for tax and social security.
  • Demand - To call for something in a strong and authoritative way.
  • Democratisation - The change to a more democratic system in which people have the right to vote and have a voice in their political system or institution.
  • Demonstrate - (1) To show and explain how something works. (2) To protest something.
  • Demonstration - (1) The act of showing how something is done. (2) A demonstration (or ‘demo’) is when a group of people march or stand together to show they are strongly for or against something.
  • Depression - (1) An emotional state that is characterised by sadness, low self-worth, and a feeling of hopelessness. (2) A long-term downturn in the economy. It is often defined as over two quarters (over six months) of negative growth.
  • Density - Trade union density is an indicator of unionisation in relation to the size of the available labour force. It refers to the proportion of employees in a country that are members of a trade union.
  • Derecognition - If an employer no longer negotiates with a trade union over pay and conditions, they are said to have ‘derecognised’ the union.
  • Deregulate - This refers to the act of removing national or local government controls (regulations) from a business, sector, or activity.
  • Deregulation - This is the process of removing government controls from (regulations) from a business, sector, or activity.
  • Differential - The difference between two or more comparable entities. Differential pay is pay that is different for different industries or for particular groups of employees.
  • Digitalisation - Eurofound defines digitalisation as referring to ‘the transformation brought about by the widespread adoption of digital technologies (robotics, machine learning, sensors, virtual reality and so on.)
  • Digitisation - Eurofound defines digitisation as referring to the process of converting specific pieces of information into a digital form that can be processed by a computer. It can be seen as a driver of digitalisation.
  • Directive - A directive is a legal act of the European Union that is directed at the member states. It sets out the objective or policy which needs to be attained. The member states then need to transpose the directive into national legislation.
  • Director - The person who manages or supervises an organisation or project.
  • Disability - This is an illness, injury, or condition that makes it difficult for someone to do the things that other people do.
  • Disability Benefit - Money that is paid by the government to people who can’t work because they are ill, have an injury or medical condition that means that they are unable to work.
  • Disabled - (1) Someone who is disabled doesn’t have one or more of the physical and mental abilities that most people have. (2) It is also used to refer to something that is related to or intended for disabled people.(3) It is also used as a noun to refer to people with a disability.
  • Disciplinary Action - This is an action that an employer takes against employees who don’t follow the regulations of the company. It could be a verbal or written reprimand.
  • Disciplinary Hearing - A disciplinary hearing is a meeting where the employer and the employee meet to discuss the disciplinary issue.
  • Disciplinary Process - Disciplinary procedures are a set way for an employer to deal with disciplinary issues. In the UK these disciplinary procedures should include a disciplinary hearing where the employee is given the opportunity to state their case.
  • Discriminate - This means to make a prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, gender, or age.
  • Discrimination - This refers to making a prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, gender, or age.
  • Disease - An illness that is characterised by specific symptoms.
  • Dismiss - If an employer dismisses an employee, then the employer officially removes the employee from their job. They can do this ‘fairly’ or ‘unfairly’.
  • Dismissal - Dismissal is when an employer ends an employee’s employment contract, thereby officially removing them from their job.
  • Dispute - An argument or disagreement between two or more groups. An industrial dispute occurs between employees or employers.
  • Division of Labour - This refers to the practice of breaking down a work process into small, separate tasks that are carried out by separate individuals or groups of people.
  • Down Tools - This means to refuse to continue working because you are not happy with pay and working conditions.
  • Draft Agreement - An agreement that is not finalised. In other words, the terms and wording have not been agreed by both sides.
  • Downsizing - The reduction of a company’s workforce. It usually occurs during an economic downturn.
  • Downturn - This is a decline in economic or business activity.
  • Dues - Regular payments made by trade union members to their trade union as the cost of membership.

E

  • Early Conciliation - This refers to the employer and the employee settling their dispute before it goes to court.
  • Early Retirement - This is a situation in which a person stops working earlier than at the usual statutory retirement age.
  • Earn - This means to receive money as payment for work done. This pay is usually in the form of wages and salaries.
  • Earnings - This describes money or other payment earned. It includes wages, salaries, bonuses, and other forms of income.
  • Economy - An economy is the system where the money, industry, and trade of a country or region are organised.
  • Educational Leave - An agreed period of time off work during which an employee takes part in planned learning activities.
  • Elect - To select someone to take up a role in office through a vote (or election).
  • Election - The act of electing, through a vote, someone to an office.
  • Emolument - This is money (or compensation) you receive from holding an office or having employment. It can be, for example, in the form of wages and fees.
  • Emanation of the State - These are public-sector employers. They include the government, local authorities, health authorities and the place.
  • Employ - This means to provide work to someone and then pay them accordingly.
  • Employee - This is an individual who works part-time or full-time under a contract of employment.
  • Employee Participation - This refers to the involvement of employees in management decision-making in the workplace. This could be decisions that affect company issues or their immediate job.
  • Employee Representation - This can be defined as the right of employees to have a trade union or individual to represent them in negotiations with management on issues such as pay and working conditions.
  • Employee Shareholder - This is an employment status. An employee shareholder is someone who works under an employee shareholder employment contract, which means they must be given shares in the employer’s company or parent company.
  • Employer - This is an individual or organisation that employs someone to work for them.
  • Employers’ Association - This is an organisation of employers, often from the same industry, formed to further their collective political and economic interests.
  • Employment - (1) The state of being employed. (2) The total number of people employed in a sector, region, country, or geographical area.
  • Employment Agency - Employment agencies attempt to match the employment needs of an employer with workers who have the required skills and interests. Some employment agencies are private, while others are run by the government.
  • Employment Contract - This is usually a written contract that states the terms and conditions under which a person agrees to carry out specified work for an agreed upon wage or salary. See also ‘contract of employment’.
  • Employment Relationship - This is the relationship between the individual employee and employer.
  • Employment Rate - The employment rate is the proportion of the total population considered to be capable of work, and who are engaged in employment.
  • Employment Tribunal - These are public bodies which have jurisdiction to hear kinds of disputes between employers and employees.
  • Enterprise - A business or company.
  • Equal Opportunity - This refers to an equal distribution among individuals regarding opportunities for education, training, employment, career development and their exercise of power without being disadvantaged on the basis of their sex, race, language, religion, economic or family situation and so forth.
  • Equal Pay - This is the principle that states that pay should be based on the kind and quality of work done and not according to the age, race, sex, religion, political association, ethnic origin, or any other individual or group characteristic that is not related to ability, performance, or qualifications.
  • Equal Treatment - The principle of equal treatment requires that all people, and in the context of the workplace all workers, have the right to receive the same treatment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of criteria such as age, disability, nationality, race and religion.
  • Eurogroup - The Eurogroup is an informal body in which ministers of the euro area member states discuss matters relating to their shared responsibilities related to the euro.
  • European Commission - The European commission is the EU's politically independent executive arm. It is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the council of the EU.
  • European Convention on Human Rights - The ECHR is an international human rights treaty between 47 states that are members of the Council of Europe. The governments that sign up to the ECHR have made up a legal commitment to abide certain standards of behaviour and to protect the basic rights and freedoms of ordinary people.
  • European Court of Human Rights - The ECJ is the judicial branch of the European Union. It reviews the legality of the acts of the Commission and the Council of Ministers of the EU and hears cases between member states as well as issues raised by private parties.
  • European Economic Area - The EEA unites the EU Member States and three EEA EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) into an internal market governed by the same basic rules.
  • European Trade Union Confederation - The major trade union organisation that represents workers at European level. It currently (2019) has 90 affiliated national trade union confederations and 10 European trade union federations.
  • European Parliament - The European Parliament is a directly-elected EU body with legislative, supervisory, and budgetary responsibilities.
  • European Works Council - The purpose of a European Works Council (EWC) is to bring together employee representatives from the different European countries in which a multinational company has operations.
  • Express Contract Term - Express terms are the terms of a contract that are expressly or specifically stated. They usually include things like pay, hours and holidays.
  • Exit Interview - An exit interview is conducted with someone who is leaving an organisation, most commonly between an employee and an employer.

F

  • Factory - A building, usually large, where large quantities of goods are manufactured with the use of machines.
  • Fair Dismissal - Fair dismissal includes dismissal on grounds of personal capability, conduct, and redundancy.
  • Fair Employment Tribunal - This is a tribunal in Northern Ireland that deals with claims of discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion.
  • Fatal Accident - This is an accident that causes someone to die.
  • Fatality - This refers to a death that is caused by an accident or by violence.
  • Fiduciary - This refers to the responsibilities of a person or organisation that manages the assets (property or money) of another person or organisation. It is often used with the noun ‘duty’.
  • Financial Participation - Financial participation is a form of employee participation in a company that involves profit-sharing and share ownership.
  • Financial Penalty - A financial penalty or ‘fine’ refers to payment that has to be paid for breaking the law or the terms of a contract.
  • Financial Statement - A financial statement is a written record that details the business activities and the financial state of the company. It includes the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement.
  • Fire - If an employer fires an employee, then the employee is dismissed from their job. The verb ‘fire’ is often used to describe a situation where the employee is dismissed for disciplinary reasons.
  • Fixed-Term Contract - This is a contract of employment in which the end of the contract is specified. This could be a specific date or it could be when a specific task is completed.
  • Fixed-Term Employee - This is an employee of a company who is on a fixed-term contract.
  • Fixed-Term Employment - This is a form of employment in which the employee is employed for a set period of time.
  • Flexible Working - This is an arrangement in which an employer allows their employees some choice as to when and where they work.
  • Flexicurity - According to the European Commission, ‘flexicurity' is ‘an integrated strategy for enhancing, at the same time, flexibility and security in the labour market. It attempts to reconcile employers’ need for a flexible workforce with workers’ need for security’.
  • Flexitime - If an employer offers flexitime, then the employees can choose the times that they work the set number of hours per week or month.
  • Foreman/woman - A skilled worker who is in charge of a group of workers.
  • Framework Agreement - A framework agreement is an agreement between two parties that recognises that although there isn’t a final agreement on all the details, there is enough agreement to move forward with the relationship, procurement, or negotiations.
  • Free Movement - Generally used to refer to the free movement of labour, which is regarded as a cornerstone of EU policy.
  • Freelance Worker - A freelance worker, also known as a freelancer, is someone who works on a contract basis for a variety of companies, and not as an employee for a single company. They are often considered to be self-employed.
  • Freeze - The act of something being held at the same level. Usually used to refer to a freeze on pay or pensions.
  • Fringe Benefits - These are additions to payment that companies give their employees. They include benefits like a company car, employee discounts, cafeteria subsidies etc.
  • Full-Time Employment - In general, a full-time job is one that involves 35 or more hours of work per week.

G

  • Garden Leave - This refers to the period when an employee who is in the process of terminating their employment stays away from their workplace during their notice period.
  • Gender Equality - This refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for women and men and boys and girls.
  • General Meeting - A general meeting is one that is open to all members of an organisation. A company’s general meeting is one at which the shareholders discuss the company’s activities and make decisions.
  • General Secretary - The general secretary of a trade union is the chief permanent officer of a trade union. He or she is usually responsible, among other things, for implementing the policy and decisions of the trade union congress.
  • General Strike - This is a mass strike (stoppage of work) by a large proportion of workers in a number of industries or sectors in order to achieve economic and political objectives.
  • Genuine Occupational Requirement - If an employer can prove there is a genuine occupational requirement, he or she can discriminate on the grounds of sex, race, religion, age, or sexual orientation when making decisions of recruitment, transfer, training, or dismissal of staff.
  • Gig Economy - In 2016 the European Commission defined gig work as ‘an economy in which digital technologies enable teams to be assembled around a given project, often across borders, while platforms seamlessly connect buyers with sellers.
  • Give Notice - If an employer gives an employee notice, then the employer informs the employee that he or she must leave his or her position within a certain period of time. Equally if an employee decides to resign from their job, he or she gives his or her notice to the employer. We also say that employees ‘hand in their notice’.
  • Golden Handshake - This is a payment given to an employee when they leave their job as a reward for very long service or good work.
  • Golden Hello - (1) Payment made to induce an employee to begin employment with a company (2) Payment made by the government to an employer in the private sector who takes on new employees during a recession. (3) Payment as incentives to graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to become teachers (in the UK).
  • Golden Parachute - This refers to benefits given to an employee, usually a top executive, in the event that he or she loses his or her job if the company is taken over by another company. These benefits may include stock options, cash bonuses and severance pay.
  • Go-slow - This is a form of industrial action in which workers deliberately work slowly to slow down the rate of production.
  • Grass Roots - The grass-roots of an organisation or movement are the ordinary people who form the main part of it, as opposed to the leaders. They are also known as ‘the rank and file’. It can be used as both a noun and an adjective.
  • Grievance - A formal complaint that is raised by an employee in the workplace. The first step of a grievance procedure is to "file the grievance".
  • Grievance Procedure - This describes the steps that need to be taken to address complaints made by employees in the workplace.
  • Gross Misconduct - This refers to serious indiscipline (for example violence or theft). It can justify the immediate dismissal of an employee.
  • Gross Pay - This is the total money that you receive for your work before deductions.
  • Group of Companies - A group of parent and subsidiary corporations that are controlled by one source and which function as one entity.
  • Guidance - Guidance refers to advising or informing people about the best course of action for them to take. ‘Vocational guidance’ is help in choosing a career, trade, or profession. It could involve help in making employment or training decisions.

H

  • Harass - This is to repeatedly behave with annoying and offensive behaviour towards someone. The person who is being harassed does not want to be subject to this kind of conduct.
  • Harassment - This is repeated offensive or annoying behaviour that is unwanted by the recipient.
  • Harmonised Unemployment Rate - According to the OECD, the harmonised unemployment rate defines ‘the unemployed as people of working age who are without work, are available for work, and have taken specific steps to find work.’
  • Hazard - A hazard is a potential source of harm or adverse health effects to a worker.
  • Health - The state of being well and free of illness. The World Health Organization refers to health as being “a state of complete physical, mental, and scissile well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
  • Health and Safety - Often referred to as occupational health and safety, this is a multidisciplinary field that covers the health, safety and welfare of people at work.
  • Health and Safety Committee - A forum to provide an opportunity for management and workers to come together to identify and resolve health and safety issues in the workplace.
  • Health and Safety Representative - A health and safety representative can be appointed or elected by trade union members. They participate in the health and safety committee and can investigate potential hazards, investigate complaints, take up health and safety issues with the employer, carry out inspections, and represent workers in talks with management.
  • Health Insurance - This is an arrangement in which regular payments are made to an insurance company so that in the event of an accident or illness, the insurance company will cover the expenses of the medical care.
  • Healthy - This describes being strong and well - in good physical and mental health.
  • Homeworker - The International Labour Organisation defines homeworkers as people who work from their homes or from other premises of their choosing other than the employer’s premises.

I

  • ICT-based Mobile Work - According to Eurofound, this is work that is “carried out at least and on a regular basis outside a person’s ‘main office’, whether the latter is the employer’s premises or a customised home office, using ICT (information and communications technology) to access the company’s shared computer systems.
  • Incapacity for Work - This refers to not being able to work because you are physically or mentally unable to do so. It is usually due to an illness or accident. This can be temporary or permanent.
  • Income - This refers to money that you earn from your work, as well as from other sources, such as investments and rent.
  • Industrial Accident - (1) This is an accident involving an employee of an industrial company while they are engaged in their work. (2) A large-scale accident that is caused by an industrial company. It may affect a large area.
  • Industrial Action - According to Eurobond industrial action can ‘take many forms, from the complete withdrawal of labour for an indefinite period to more restricted forms of collective action in which there is no cessation of work’. These kinds of industrial action short-of-a-strike include a ‘work-to-rule’ and ‘go slows’.
  • Industrial Dispute - This refers to a confrontation over pay and conditions of employment between employers or employer organisations and employees or trade unions.
  • Industrial Relations - This deals with the collective, as opposed to the individual, aspects of the employment relationship.
  • Industrial Sector - The industrial sector is usually defined as the part of the economy that makes finished products. It includes heavy industry and light industry. Examples include the automobile industry and chemical industry.
  • Industrial Tribunal - This is a type of public body that has the jurisdiction to make judgements on disputes between employers and employees. In the UK they are now referred to as employment tribunals.
  • Inflation - This is a measure of the average rate at which the average price level increases over a period of time. Inflation indicates a fall in the purchasing power of the currency.
  • Injury - This is physical damage that someone suffers, usually as a result of an accident.
  • Insolvency - Insolvency occurs when an individual or company cannot meet its financial obligations. If it lasts for a temporary period, the person or company can avoid going into bankruptcy.
  • Insolvent - If an individual or company is insolvent, they cannot meet their financial obligations.
  • Interim Agreement - This is an agreement that includes a memorandum of understanding or a binding preliminary agreement. ‘Interim’ means ‘in the meantime’
  • Interim Employment - This is the temporary supply of someone with management expertise. They will work for a certain period in times of crisis or change.
  • Intermittent Agreement - This is a form of employment that is related to an individual project, task, or seasonal work. Eurofound defines it as being ‘characterised by a fixed-term period, which either involves fulfilling a task or completing a specific number of days’ work’.
  • International Framework Agreement - International framework agreements (IFAs) ensure international labour standards are maintained in the target company’s locations. IFAs are signed by Global Union Federations.
  • International Labour Organization - The ILO is an agency of the United Nations whose goal is to advance social justice and promote decent work by setting international labour standards
  • International Labour Standards - A system of international conventions and recommendations drawn up by representatives of governments, employers and workers. The original international labour standards were created by the ILO, which was set up by the signatories to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Nowadays, the ECJ draws on a range of sources to protect labour standards, including international labour standards and Council of Europe measures.
  • In Real Terms - When we talk about a pay rise in real terms, we are taking into account the rate of inflation. For example if a pay rise is below the rate of inflation, then it is a pay cut in real terms.

J

  • Job - (1) Regular employment for which the employee is paid. (2) A specific task or piece of work.
  • Jobless - When ‘jobless’ is preceded by ‘the’, it refers to the group of people who are unemployed.
  • Job Creation - This refers to processes that increase the number of jobs in an economy. It often refers to government schemes. These could include the government hiring new workers for public projects or by giving incentives to businesses to employ more workers.
  • Job Description - This is a broad written statement outlining the general duties, responsibilities, scope and working conditions. It usually includes the job title.
  • Job Enrichment - This describes a situation in which employees are given extra tasks in order to give them more responsibility and control over their work. The aim is to give the employee more job satisfaction and more motivation.
  • Job Evaluation - This is the process of comparing different jobs in a company or organization in order to decide what the pay for each job should be.
  • Job Requirements - These are the skills, qualities, experience and qualifications that you need to have to be suitable for a certain job.
  • Job Rotation - This is the planned movement of employees between two or more jobs or tasks. The aim is to improve the experiences and widen the skill sets of the employees.
  • Job Satisfaction - This refers to how content (happy) the worker is about their job.
  • Job Security - This refers to the probability that you will keep your job. If you have low job security, there is a high chance you will lose your job.
  • Joint Shop Stewards Committee - The joint shop stewards' committee consists of workplace trade union representatives who are elected to the committee from the various trade unions that operate within the same establishment.
  • Joint-Stock Company - A joint-stock company is a business that is owned by its investors. Each investor owns a share of the company.
  • Jurisdiction - It refers to the authority of a court to hear a case and declare a judgement. It can also refer to the extent of this authority, for example over a geographical area. It also refers to the structure of law courts that together make up a legal system.

K

  • Keeping in Touch Days - In the UK employees can work up to ten days during maternity, paternity or adoption leave. They are called ‘keeping in touch days’, and are optional.

L

  • Labour - (1) To work hard, to toil. (2) To emphasise or expand on a point - in a lecture, debate, or presentation.
  • Labour Costs - This is the total of all payment made to employees, including the cost of benefits and taxes. Direct labour costs refers to wages and salaries paid to employees. Indirect labour costs include the costs of support labour such as those who might maintain equipment.
  • Labour Court - This is a governmental judiciary body that hears and rules on disagreements and disputes between employers and employees.
  • Labour Law - This is the body of law that is applied to employment, pay and conditions, trade unions and industrial relations.
  • Labour Legislation - Labour legislation is the body of law that is applied to employment, pay and conditions, trade unions and industrial relations. ‘Legislation’ is synonymous with law that has been enacted by a legislature. It is also known as ‘statutory law’.
  • Labour Market - Also known as the ‘job market’, this refers to the supply and demand for labour.
  • Labour Market Policy - These are government policies that aim to help the unemployed find work in the labour market.
  • Labour Mobility - This refers to the ease with which workers are able to move from one job to another or from one area to another in order to work.
  • Labour Movement - This corresponds to the organised efforts of working people to improve economic status, pay and conditions.
  • Labour Shortage - If there are not enough qualified workers to fill job positions, we say there is a labour shortage (or a shortage of labour).
  • Labourer - This is a person who does unskilled manual work for wages.
  • Layoff - This is the suspension or termination of employment by the employer. Layoffs are usually carried out when companies are suffering from financial difficulties. Workers are not laid off for disciplinary reasons. Permanent termination is referred to as a redundancy.
  • Lay Off - If an employer lays off an employee, then the employer terminates the employment for a temporary period of time - usually due to financial difficulties.
  • Leave - Time off from work that has been agreed with the employer - for example ‘maternity leave’, ‘paternity leave’, sick leave’ etc. Leave can be paid or unpaid.
  • Like Work - This refers to the same or similar work. In the UK if you are doing like work to a worker of the opposite sex, then you are entitled to equal pay.
  • Limited Company - In a limited company, the liability of the shareholders liability is limited to the capital they originally invested.
  • Living Wage - This is a wage that is high enough to meet the cost of living.
  • Location Allowance - This is an extra payment to compensate employees for the difficulties they face in adapting to living in a new location.
  • Long-service Award - These are awards to reward lengthy periods of service to an employer. They vary in the intervals that they are awarded (for example every 10 years or every 15 years), and what the awards will be.
  • Low Pay Commission - The Low Pay Commission is an independent body that advises the UK government about the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage.

M

  • Malfeasance - Illegal or dishonest behaviour. It is commonly used to refer to the wrongdoing of public officials or people in authority.
  • Mandamus - A writ (a written command from a court of law) from a superior court to an inferior court or to an officer, corporation, etc., commanding them to do or to abstain from doing something. In Latin ‘mandamus’ means ‘we command’ .
  • Market-related pay - This refers to pay that is approximately the industry average for a particular job.
  • Material factor defence - Commonly used as a defence by employers against claims of sexual discrimination regarding their pay. The employer attempts to show that the difference in pay is “genuinely due to a material difference which is not the difference of sex.”
  • Maternity allowance - In the UK, this is paid to pregnant women who are not eligible to receive statutory maternity pay.
  • Maternity leave - This is an agreed period of time off work for a female employee to give birth and look after her infant children.
  • Maternity Leave Curtailment Notice - This is a written notice given to the employer by the mother stating on which date her maternity leave will end.
  • Maternity Pay Period - The period of time for which maternity leave is paid. In the UK, statutory maternity pay can be paid for up to 39 weeks.
  • Mediation - The use of a mutually agreed upon third party, called the mediator, who will attempt to end a disagreement between two parties (for example an employer and an employee) by helping them talk about and agree on a solution.
  • Mens rea - The conscious knowledge that one’s actions are criminal.
  • Mesothelioma - A form of cancer that is commonly caused by exposure to asbestos.
  • Minimum Wage - This refers to the lowest rate of pay that employers can legally pay their employees. Statutory minimum wages are set by laws and statutes. Collectively agreed minimum wages are stipulated by collective agreements.
  • Miscarriage - (1) The natural death of an embryo or fetus before it is able to live independently. (2) A failure of justice. The conviction of an innocent person of a crime they did not commit.
  • Misfeasance - This describes someone using their authority to carry out an action that is wrong or harmful.
  • Mitigation - (1) Making something less harmful or unpleasant. (2) Legal: Something that causes a crime to be judged less severely or harshly.
  • Mobility Clause - This is a clause in a contract that allows an employer to require an employee to move their place of work to a different location, either temporarily or permanently.
  • Money Purchase Pension Scheme - This is a type of defined-contribution pension scheme with fixed contributions paid into the fund by the employer and employee.
  • Musculoskeletal Disorder - These kind of disorders cover any damage to the joints and other tissues. They usually affect the back, neck, shoulders, and upper limbs.

N

  • National Insurance - This is a system in the UK in which the government collects money from companies and employees in order to fund state payments, such as maternity pay, sick pay, and state pensions.
  • National Living Wage - This is a wage that is high enough to meet the costs of living in a particular nation state.
  • National Minimum Wage - This refers to the lowest rate of pay that employers in a particular country can legally pay their employees.
  • Negligence - This is a lack of care or duty which results in harm to people or property. Negligence is understood as doing something that an ordinary reasonable and prudent individual would not do.
  • Night Work - A 2003 directive defines ‘night work’ as work carried out in ‘any period of not less than seven hours, as defined by national law, and which must include in any case the period between midnight and 05:00.’
  • Night Worker - Someone who regularly works at night. Article 2(4)(a) of Directive 2003/88/EC defines a ‘night worker’ as ‘any worker, who, during night time, works at least three hours of their daily working time as a normal course’.
  • Nominal - As an economic term, ‘nominal’ relates to pay, prices, or rates that do not take into account the rate of inflation.
  • Non-Discrimination Principle - EurWork defines the non-discrimination principle as requiring ‘the equal treatment of an individual or group irrespective of their particular characteristics, and is used to assess apparently neutral criteria that may produce effects which systematically disadvantage persons possessing those characteristics.’
  • Non-Eligible Jobholder - In the UK a non-eligible jobholder is someone who doesn’t have to be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension scheme. These include workers under 21 and/or those whose earnings are below a certain threshold.
  • Normal Retirement Age - According to the OECD, the normal retirement age is the age from which an individual is eligible for pension benefits.
  • Notice - A formal announcement that notifies of an intention to withdraw from an agreement. It is commonly used, for example, by an employee to notify the employer that they wish to leave their job.

O

  • Obiter dictum - In Latin it means ‘by the way’. In law it refers to a judicial opinion which is not necessary for making a decision on the case before the court.
  • Ogden Tables - A set of statistical tables used in court cases in the UK. They are used to calculate future losses in cases of injury and fatal accident cases.
  • Order for Re-engagement - Employees in the United Kingdom who believe they have been unfairly dismissed by their employer can bring a case in an employment tribunal. If the tribunal finds in the employee’s favour, it can issue a re-engagement order. This orders the employer to re-employ the employee on new terms with no loss of continuity of employment.
  • Order for Reinstatement - If an employment tribunal rules that an employee has been unfairly dismissed, they might issue an order for reinstatement. This requires the employer to treat the employee as if he or she had never been dismissed.
  • Ordinary Adoption Leave - Adoption leave is agreed time off work to look after an adopted child. In the UK ordinary adoption leave is the first 26 weeks of the 52 weeks of statutory adoption leave. The second 26 weeks is known as additional adoption leave.
  • Ordinary Maternity Leave - In the UK this is the first 26 weeks of maternity leave.
  • Ordinary Parental Leave - In the UK this is the right of parents to take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave until the child’s 18th birthday.
  • Outplacement - The provision of help to redundant employees to find new work. The help can be provided by the company or through an agency.
  • Outsourcing - The transfer of some of the work of the organisation or enterprise to outside contractors. Also known as ‘contracting out’.
  • Outworker - An outworker has a contract of employment with an employee or a service contract with a company; however, he or she does not work at the employer’s or the company’s workplace.

P

  • Part-time Worker - A 1997 directive defines part-time work as involving employees ‘whose normal hours of work, calculated on a weekly basis or on average over a period of employment of up to one year, are less than the normal hours of work of a comparable full-time worker’.
  • Paternity Leave - This is agreed time off work available for fathers or partners to look after their child or children.
  • Pay in Lieu of Notice - This is payment made to an employee for a notice period that they don’t have to work. The amount of money should cover all the money that would have been earned during the notice period.
  • Pay Claim - This is the pay (wages or salary) that workers or trade union representatives demand from management.
  • Pay Cut - This is a reduction in the wages or salaries paid to workers.
  • Pay Deal - This is an agreement between worker representatives and the employer concerning pay or salary.
  • Pay Freeze - This is when an employer suspends pay increases for a period of time.
  • Pay Hike - This is a synonym of ‘pay rise’, which means an increase in pay.
  • Pay Raise - An increase in pay.
  • Pay Reduction - If an employer decreases the pay of the employees, we say the workers have suffered a pay cut or pay reduction.
  • Pay Rise - An increase in pay.
  • Pay Progression - Increases in salary that are a result of moving up a pay scale or pay range. This upward movement could be due to increasing seniority, improved skills and qualifications, or performance.
  • Payroll - A list of employees and the amount of money they are paid during each pay period.
  • Per Diem - An amount of money that is given to an individual – usually an employee – per day to cover expenses when they are travelling for work.
  • Performance-Related Pay - A system of financial reward related to how well employees are doing their job. Performance-related pay can be paid for individuals, a team, or the company as a whole.
  • Period of Incapacity for Work - In the UK, this is a period of sickness that lasts for more than 4 days in a row.
  • Permanent Contract - This is an employment contract that is for an indefinite period of time.
  • Permanent Health Insurance - This is also known as income insurance. It provides an income (part or full) of a person’s salary until retirement in the event of a long term illness or injury.
  • Personal Data - The European Commission defines personal data as any information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual.
  • Personal Protective Equipment - This is safety equipment designed to protect workers from hazards to their health and safety in the workplace.
  • Picket - The act of standing outside a workplace (or other venue) in order to try to persuade other people not to enter.
  • Platform Work - A form of employment in which an online platform is used to join customers who require specific services and workers who supply these services.
  • Pneumoconiosis - Lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust particles.
  • Positive Action - These are measures to eliminate or remedy past discrimination. It promotes equality of outcomes.
  • Positive Discrimination - These are policies and practices intended to favour groups in society who have historically faced disadvantages.
  • Posted Worker - A posted worker is defined as ‘a person who, for a limited period of time, carries out his or her work in the territory of an EU Member State other than the state in which he or she normally works’.
  • Precariat - A class of people who don’t have secure employment. It describes people who suffer from periods of unemployment or underemployment and have a precarious existence as a result.
  • Precarious Work - This is typically used to describe work that is insecure - for example fixed-term work and temporary agency work. It is is also used to describe employment that doesn’t have proper social security coverage.
  • Precarious Worker - Someone who is in precarious work, which is insecure work and/or work that doesn’t have proper social security coverage.
  • Pre-Hearing Review - This is an interim employment tribunal hearing which determines preliminary issues. These issues can include whether the claim was brought in time or the employment status of the claimant.
  • Prima Facie - Latin for ‘at first sight’.
  • Privatisation - The process of selling an industry or company that was owned by the government so it becomes privately owned.
  • Privatise - If a government privatises an industry or company, then it sells it to a private investor (or investors), so the industry or company changes from being publicly owned to privately owned.
  • Profit - The money or financial benefit that an individual or company earns after paying the costs of producing and providing goods and services.
  • Profit-Related Pay - This refers to an employee’s pay being linked to the amount of profit made by the employer. It is a form of financial participation.
  • Probationary Period - This is a period that a new worker has to complete when they start a new job. During this period the employer will evaluate the skills and suitability of the new employee.
  • Production Costs - These are costs that a business incurs from producing a good or service. These costs can include the costs of labour, supplies, rent, debt repayments, and raw material.
  • Profession - Work that requires special training or a particular skill.
  • Pro Bono - Latin for ‘for the public good’. It is usually used to refer to professional work that is carried out free-of-charge (for no payment).
  • Pro Rata - This is Latin for ‘in proportion’. If something is given to people on a pro rata basis, it will be allocated in equal proportions.
  • Profit and Loss Statement - This is a financial statement that is a summary of income and expenditure during a specific period, usually a fiscal quarter (three months).
  • Profit Sharing - This is a plan that gives employees a share in the profits made by the economy.
  • Protected Award - In the UK a protected award is compensation of up to 90 days’ pay that is awarded by an Employment Tribunal. It is awarded if the employer hasn’t followed proper procedure when carrying out collective redundancies.
  • Protected Characteristics - It is against the law to discriminate against someone based on a protected characteristic. These protected characteristics include age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
  • Public Holiday - A nationally recognised holiday that is observed throughout the whole country.
  • Purchasing Power - (1) The purchasing power of a currency is the amount of goods and services that one unit of that currency can buy (purchase). (2) Purchasing power is also sometimes used to refer to how much money someone has to make to buy things (make purchases).

Q

  • Qualification - An official document or record showing that someone has a special skill, knowledge or ability.
  • Quit - An informal word for ‘resign’.

R

  • Race to the Bottom - This describes a situation in which employers try to undercut their competitors by cutting costs (usually labour costs). It can also refer to governments cutting taxes in order to attract businesses to base themselves in their countries.
  • Rank and File - The rank and file of an organisation or movement are the ordinary people who form the main part of it, as opposed to the leaders. They are also known as ‘the grassroots’. It can be used as both a noun and an adjective.
  • Rate - (1) The speed at which something changes. (2) The amount or level of something.
  • Real Wage - Real wages are nominal wages that take the inflation rate into account.
  • Reasonable Time Off - This is usually used to refer to the paid time off a shop steward or union official gets from his/her employer to carry out trade union duties.
  • Recasting - The casting of legislation means the adoption of a new legal act, when an an amendment is made to legal instrument. The new act passes through the entire legislative process and repeals and replaces all the acts being recast. If a directive is recast, then the European Parliament can only work on those provisions that the Commission had changed.
  • Recession - A slowdown in the economy. Technically it is two quarters (three-month periods) of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s GDP.
  • Recognise - To acknowledge the validity or legal existence of something. In a trade union context, a trade union is recognised when it negotiates agreements on pay and conditions with the employer.
  • Recognition - Trade union recognition is a formal agreement with an employer for a particular union to undertake collective bargaining on behalf of that employer's staff.
  • Recommendation - A European Commission recommendation is not binding. It allows the institutions to suggest lines of action.
  • Recruit - To persuade someone to become an employee of a company, or to become a participant in a project. It is often used to refer to persuading someone to join the armed forces.
  • Recruitment - The act of finding and hiring candidates for a job. It involves attracting potential employees, selecting the best candidates, hiring them and then integrating the new employee into the organisation.
  • Redundancy - If carried out according to proper procedures, redundancy is a form of fair dismissal. It refers to when a worker is let go because their job no longer exists.
  • Redundant - If you have been made redundant, then you lose your job because the job no longer exists.
  • Redundancy Pay - If someone has been made redundant and has worked for the company for a certain period of time (in the UK it is two years), then they are entitled to statutory redundancy pay.
  • REFIT - This is an acronym for the European Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance program. According to European Commission its aim is 'to make EU law lighter, simpler and less costly so that it benefits citizens and businesses and helps to create the conditions for growth and jobs. It does not put into question the EU's policy objectives, but seeks for more effective ways to achieve them' (European Commission memo, 18 June 2014).
  • Regional Branch - Part of a trade union structure that operates with members in a particular geographical area.
  • Regulation - This is a binding legislative act that must be applied all across the European Union.
  • Relocation - This is a change in the place where a business is based.
  • Relocation Allowance - This is money to an employee to compensate the cost of moving from one locality to another as a result of work requirements.
  • Renumeration - A formal word for payment. Essentially, money paid for work or a service.
  • Renumerate - This is the act of paying someone for work or a service.
  • Renege - To fail to carry out something that you committed to do. For example, we can say the employer reneged on the contract.
  • Representation - The act of speaking or acting on behalf of someone else. Trade unions and trade union representatives represent trade union members in talks and negotiations with management.
  • Rep or Representative - A trade union representative (or ‘rep’) is a member of a trade union who represents trade union members in dealings with management in the workplace. They are usually elected by fellow trade union members.
  • Restructuring - This is a term that describes a broad range of activities that lead to the reorganisation of a business. It often has negative consequences for employees as it may result in redundancies and poorer working conditions.
  • Retire - When people retire, they leave their occupation or position, especially when they reach an age when they become eligible for a pension.
  • Retirement - We take retirement when we leave our job in order to receive a pension. The age of retirement ranges from 60 to 66 across the EU.
  • Retraining - If you retrain, then you learn new skills usually in order to get a new job.
  • Risk - (Noun) The possibility of damage, injury, loss of health, or loss. (Verb) To expose someone or something to the possibility of damage, harm or loss.
  • Risk Assessment - Risk assessment is defined by the European Commission in its guidance on risk assessment at work as the process of evaluating the risk to the health and safety of workers while at work arising from the circumstances of the occurrence of a hazard at the workplace.
  • Rotating Strike Action - This is strike action that affects different departments or different workplaces in a company or organisation.

S

  • Sabbatical - This is a period of time when a person takes an extended period of time off work, but remains employed with the company.
  • Sack - To be sacked' or 'to get the sack' means to be dismissed from your job, usually for disciplinary reasons. Employers sack employees. Employees are sacked by employers. The noun form is usually used in the following constructions: we say ‘get the sack’ or ‘be given the sack’.
  • Salary - Compensation for work that is agreed upon and is is usually paid monthly - as opposed to hourly, daily or weekly.
  • Scab - Someone who takes the place of a worker who is on strike.
  • Seasonal Employment/Work - This is a form of seasonal employment where workers find work during specific months of the year.
  • Secondment - This is the assignment of a worker from one organisation to another organisation (external secondment) or from one part of an organisation to another (internal secondment) for a temporary period.
  • Secretary - This is an elected officer who deals with the administration of the trade union. For example, a branch secretary deals with the administration of the branch of the trade union.
  • Sector - A specific area of the economy. Common examples include the financial sector, the health sector, the manufacturing sector etc.
  • Sectoral - This relates to a specific area (sector) of the economy.
  • Security - (1) A financial instrument that shows ownership, evidence of a debt, and a right to the share in the earnings of the issuer - for example bonds and shares. (2) Protection against assault, damage, and theft. (3) Job security refers to how much assurance the employee has that they will keep their job.
  • Seniority - This describes a situation in which an employee gains certain privileges based on the length of time they have been an employee of the company. These privileges could include promotion, pay, benefits, and the order in which employees are selected for redundancy.
  • Self-employed - Someone who is self-employed does not work for a specific employer. Instead, he or she works for themselves and contracts with clients (businesses, individuals or organisations) directly.
  • Self-employment - The state of being self-employed, which refers to not working for a specific employer, but contracting with clients (businesses, individuals or organisations) directly.
  • Settlement - An agreement that is reached by two or more parties.
  • Shareholder - Anyone who owns at least one share in a company. A share is a unit of ownership of a company.
  • Shift Work - Shift work is a regular work schedule during which an enterprise is operational or provides services beyond the normal working hours and where different groups of workers take over from each other at the same work site to perform the same operations. Shift work usually involves work in the early morning, at night or at the weekend; the weekly rest days might not coincide with the normal rest days.
  • Shop Steward - Shop stewards are elected by trade union members. They offer advice to members in the workplace and represent the members in dealings with management.
  • Short-Time Work - A 2010 European Commission report defines short-time work as a reduction in working time intended to maintain an existing employer/employee relationship. It can involve reduction in the normal working week for a limited period of time or it can involve a temporary lay off.
  • Sickness Benefits - This is money paid by the government to someone who is too ill or injured to work.
  • Sick Leave - The ECJ ruled that sick leave is time off work given to the worker so that he or she can recover from being ill.
  • Sick Out - A sick-out is when a significant number of trade union members falsely call in sick on the same day. It can be an effective way of showing the employer what it would be like if they were to go on strike.
  • Sick Pay - Money that you get from your employer when you are too ill to work.
  • Sister Company - Sister companies are subsidiaries that are related to each other through being owned by the same parent work.
  • Sit-Down Strike - This is a form of industrial action in which striking employees stay in the workplace in order to prevent work being carried out.
  • Sliding Wage Scale - A mechanism whereby pay (wages or salary) follows changes to the cost of living. This means that workers’ purchasing power is maintained through periods of inflation.
  • Social Acquis - Eurofound defines ‘social acquis’ as being ‘part of the acquis communautaire that includes the body of laws (Treaty provisions, regulations, directives, decisions, European Court of Justice (ECJ) case-law and other Union legal measures, binding and non-binding), principles, policy objectives, declarations, resolutions and international agreements defining the social policy of the EU.’
  • Social Audit - This is a review of a company’s activities, procedures and code of conduct with regard to social responsibility and the impact the company has on society.
  • Social Benefits - The OECD defines social benefits as ‘transfers received by households intended to provide for the needs that arise from certain evens or circumstances, for example, sickness, unemployment, retirement, housing, education, or family circumstances.
  • Social Pillar - The European Commission defines the European Pillar of Social Rights as ‘a self-standing reference document, of a legal nature, setting out key principles and values shared at EU level’. The pillar has three main components; equal opportunities and access to the labour market, working conditions, and social protection and inclusion.
  • Social Security Contributions - According to the OECD, these are social security contributions that are paid to governments that confer the entitlement to receive a future social benefit - including unemployment benefit, accident, injury and sickness benefits, pensions etc.
  • Social Dialogue - The ETUC defines social dialogue as the ‘process of negotiation by which different actors in society (or ‘social partners') reach agreement to work together on policies and activities. Social dialogue takes place at national and sectoral level as well as European level. ‘Bipartite' social dialogue brings together workers and employers, whereas ‘tripartite' social dialogue also involves government or EU representatives.
  • Social Welfare - A social welfare system refers to social services, publicly or privately funded to help disadvantaged groups, such as the poor, unemployed, sick etc.
  • Solidarity Action - This is industrial action that is taken by a trade union in order to support a strike started by workers in another enterprise. Very often the enterprise is in the same group of companies.
  • Staff - People who work for an organisation. We also say ‘members of staff’
  • Staggered Hours - This describes a system of working in which employees do not all arrive and leave work at the same time. There are, however, large periods of overlap - especially with regards to the core hours within a workday.
  • Statutory - Something that is set by laws or statutes.
  • Strike Action - This is the collective refusal by employees to carry out their work. It is usually carried out in order to protest the pay and conditions provided by the employer.
  • Strikebreaker - This is someone who carries out the work of striking workers in order for the employer to continue production or the provision of their service.
  • Strikebreaking - This is an action carried out by employers or governments to disrupt a workers’ strike to make it ineffectual.
  • Subsidiary Company - A subsidiary company is a company that belongs to another company - usually known as its parent company.
  • Subscription - Subscriptions (or ‘subs’) is the money that you pay regularly to be a member of an organisation.

T

  • Take On - (1) To hire. If a business takes on workers, then it hires or employs new employees. (2) To accept work or responsibility.
  • Take Over - To take control of something.
  • Takeover - The assumption of control of another business via the purchase of over 50% of its shares or stock.
  • Taxation - Taxation’ or ‘tax’ is a financial charge on citizens and companies to fund government spending.
  • Telework - This is a form of work that utilises information technology so that work is carried out away from the employer’s premises.
  • Teleworker - This is someone who works away from his or her employer’s premises using information technology.
  • Temporary Agency Work - This is work through an employment agency. The temporary employment agency employs the temporary worker, and is then hired out to work at another company.
  • Temporary Contract - This is an employment contract that is just for a specified period of time.
  • Temporary Employment/Work - Work that only exists for a certain period of time.
  • Temporary Worker - Someone who is working for an employer for a certain period of time that is specified in the employment contract.
  • Time off in Lieu - This is time off work that some employers give employees instead of paying them for overtime that they have done.
  • Threshold Agreement - This refers to an agreement between employees (or trade unions) and employers to raise pay by a certain amount of inflation increases by a specified amount in a specified time period.
  • Tort Law - A ‘tort’ is a ‘wrong’ in civil law (as opposed to criminal law). Someone who has been wronged should be compensated. It is separate from contract law’, however. It includes intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, financial losses, injuries, and invasion of privacy.
  • Trade Union - Also called a ‘labour union’ in US English, a trade union is an association of workers in a trade, industry, or company. This association of workers is created for the purpose of securing improvements in pay and working conditions.
  • Trade Unionist - This refers to someone who is either a member of a trade union, or someone who is an advocate of trade unionism.
  • Traineeship - The European Commission defines ‘traineeships’ as ‘a limited period of work practice spent at a business, public body or non-profit institution by students or young people having recently completed their education, in order to gain valuable hands-on work experience ahead of taking up regular employment’.
  • Transnational Enterprise - A commercial enterprise that does business in more than one country. A transnational enterprise often has significant facilities in these countries.
  • Transpose - This refers to a European Union directive being put into a the legal system of an EU state.
  • Transposition - This refers to the process of EU states implementing European Union directives into national law.
  • Treasurer - In general, the treasurer is responsible for keeping records of the trade union finances, collecting membership themes, developing budgets for planning the union finances, and provide reports on the financial position of the trade union.
  • Tripartite Social Dialogue - Social dialogue refers to discussions, consultations, negotiations and joint action involving organisations representing two sides of industry (employers and workers). Tripartite social dialogue takes place between European employers, trade union organisations, and government or EU representatives.

U

  • Undeclared Work - At EU level, undeclared work is defined as "any paid activities that are lawful as regards to their nature but not declared to public authorities, taking into account differences in the regulatory systems of the Member States.” Undeclared work can be partially or fully undeclared.
  • Undercut - To offer products or services at a lower level than a competitor.
  • Underemployed - This describes a situation in which either someone does not have enough paid work or in which they are doing work that does not make use of their skills.
  • Underemployment - This describes people who are highly-skilled but are working in low-skilled jobs, and people who would like to be working more hours.
  • Undertaking - (1) A business enterprise. (2) A guarantee or promise.
  • Unemployed - Someone that is not currently in work but is available for, and looking for, work.
  • Unemployment - The state of not being in work even though you are available for, and looking for, work.
  • Unemployment Benefit - Money given by governments to jobless people who are looking for work.
  • Unfair Dismissal - The UK Trades Union Congress defines this as ‘terminations of employment by the employer where the reason for dismissal is not one of the statutory fair reasons or the reason for dismissal was for one of the statutory fair reasons, but the employer acted unreasonably in deciding to dismiss for that reason.’
  • Union Busting - This describes activities that can disrupt or hinder trade union action or prevent the formation of trade unions. These actions can be legal or illegal.
  • Union Dues - These are the regular payments that trade union members pay to their trade union in order to fund trade union activities. They are the cost of trade union membership.
  • Unionisation - This refers to the process of employees establishing a trade union in order to act in their interests.
  • Universal Credit - A monthly payment in the UK made to people who are on a low income or unemployed.
  • Unpaid Leave - This is time off work during which the employee is not paid by the employer.
  • Unpaid Volunteer - Someone who willingly performs work for no pay.
  • Ultra Vires - This is a Latin phrase meaning ‘beyond the powers’. It describes an act that is carried out without legal authority.

V

  • Veto - (1) Used as a noun, it refers to a vote that blocks a decision. (2) Used as a verb, it means ‘to refuse to approve’ something.
  • Vibration White Finger - An industrial injury that is caused by the continuous operation of hand-held vibrating machinery. Also known as Raynaud’s syndrome, dead finger, or hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
  • Vicarious Liability - This refers to a situation where someone is considered responsible for the actions or omissions of another person.
  • Victimisation - This is when you are treated badly or made to suffer a disadvantage because you complain about discrimination or help someone who has been discriminated against.
  • Vocation - (1) A strong feeling that you have a suitability for a certain career or occupation. (2) An occupation, trade, or profession.
  • Vocational Training - This is job-specific training for a particular trade or craft.
  • Voluntary Insurance - This is a kind of workplace benefit, in which employers set up an insurance plan that employees can use to buy more insurance coverage.

W

  • Wage - An agreed regular payment given by an employer to a worker or employee for someone’s work or services. People are usually paid an hourly, daily, or weekly wage.
  • Wage Differential - This refers to the difference in wages between (1) Workers with different skills who are working in the same sector or (2) People with similar skills working in different industries or locations.
  • Walkout - This is a strike which involves workers collectively leaving the workplace in protest over pay, conditions or other management decisions.
  • Walk Out - If workers ‘walk out’ of their workplace, they leave their workplace in order to protest over pay, conditions or other management decisions.
  • Whistleblower - This is an employee who notifies the public, other employees, the media, or a government agency about the wrongdoing of their employer.
  • White Collar - This is someone who carries out managerial, administrative or professional work.
  • Wildcat Strike - This is a strike taken by employees without the consent or approval of the union leadership. It is also sometimes called unofficial industrial action.
  • Workload - This refers to the amount of work that a worker, machine, or group of workers has or is expected to perform.
  • Work Stoppage - This is the collective cessation of work by employees to protest pay, conditions, or a management decision.
  • Work to Rule - This is a type of industrial action in which workers carry out their tasks strictly according to the contract. This means that they do the very minimum required, which causes a slowdown and a drop in productivity.
  • Worker - (1) The general meaning of ‘worker’ is a person who carries out work. It is normally understood that a worker who works for a company or organization does not have a powerful position in that company. (2) The legal definition of ‘worker’ can differ across the EU member states. According to EurWork, the application of EU directives the definition of ‘worker’ includes the following: people who are economically dependent, the self-employed, people on temporary contracts , and agency workers. It also covers posted workers, migrant workers and third-country workers.
  • Workforce - (1) The total number of people who are unemployed in a country. (2) The total number of employees in a company or organization.
  • Working Conditions - This refers to the working environment and the terms of the employment contract. This includes the organisation of work, training, skills, health and safety, working time and work-life balance.
  • Working Hours - According to EU law, it is any period during which the worker is working, at the employer's disposal and carrying out his activities or duties, in accordance with national laws and practices.
  • Working Life - The years that you spend working. A person’s working life begins after finishing education and ends at retirement.
  • Working Tax Credit - A UK state benefit that is available to people who are in work but have a low income.
  • Working Time - According to a 2003 directive, it is defined as ‘any period during which the worker is working at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his activities or duties, in accordance with national laws and/or practice’.
  • Work-Life Balance - This refers to how an individual prioritises their work and personal life.
  • Workplace Representation - The representation of employees through trade unions
  • Works Council - An organisation representing workers that acts as a complement to trade unions. In some countries, works councils are independent of trade unions.
  • Wrongful Dismissal - If an employer dimisses an employee, and in so doing breaches the terms of the employment contract, this is considered to be a case of wrongful dismissal.

Y

  • Yellow Union - Also known as a company union. This refers to a trade union which is actually run by the management of a company.
  • Young Workers - EU legislation that aims to protect young workers defines a young worker as under the age of 18, who has an employment contract or an employment relationship defined by the law in force in a Member State and/or governed by the law in force in a Member State.
  • Youth Unemployment Rate - The number of out-of-work 15-24 year olds expressed as a percentage of the youth labour force.

Z

  • Zero-hour contract - A type of contract where the employer has no obligation to provide any minimum working hours, and the worker is under no obligation to accept any work offered.