The role of agreements between labour unions and employers in the regulation of the work environment

Peter Hasle, Jens Voxtrup Petersen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Traditionally, agreements between labour unions and employers’ associations have been a rare instrument of work environment regulation. Yet, they seem to win more importance. These years there is a growing tendency in Denmark to integrate agreements and legislation. One of the reasons for this development is a higher priority given to the psychosocial work environment, This area is generally difficult to regulate even by the reflexive form of work environment legislation currently in use, as its character makes it difficult to set fixed norms that can be measured objectively. In addition, the prevention of psychosocial strains requires changes in the organisation of work and management of human resources.Both areas are normally controlled by management and to some extent influenced by collective agreements about the wage system and working hours. Deregulation and EU-legislation also put the labour unions and employers’ associations under pressure, forcing them to look for new roles. A stronger role in work environment regulation could be a possibility. Agreements between the social partners about the work environment may open new dynamics if they result in a stronger commitment to improvement on the parts of both the social partners and the companies. Strong co-operation between the work environment authorities and the social partners seems to be necessary. However, it is an open question whether they can meet this obligation, as doing so may sometimes lead to criticism from members. On one hand, employers may find the work environment requirements too strict; on the other, union members may find them exactly the opposite.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPolicy and Practice in Health and Safety
    Pages (from-to)5-24
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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