Labour & Allied Matters

Labour law arose in parallel with the Industrial Revolution as the relationship between worker and employer changed from small-scale production studios to large-scale factories. Workers sought better conditions and the right to join a labour union, while employers sought a more predictable, flexible and less costly workforce. The state of labour law at any one time is therefore both the product of and a component of struggles between various social forces.
As England was the first country to industrialize, it was also the first to face the often appalling consequences of the industrial revolution in a less regulated economic framework. Over the course of the late 18th and early to the mid-19th century the foundation for modern labour law was slowly laid, as some of the more egregious aspects of working conditions were steadily ameliorated through legislation. This was largely achieved through the concerted pressure from social reformers, notably Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, and others.