Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Industrial Relations Definition:

Processes related to the world of work such as the organization of work, employment contracts, human resource management, employment relations, conflict management and employee attitudes and behaviors at work.

Industrial relations is often described as being limited to rules of conduct that govern labor and management in their representational and bargaining activities. That may be because so many of the quasi-judicial tribunals and investigative agencies related to the supervision of unions have adopted the moniker of "industrial relations" as in the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

But in law, the term refers to a multi-disciplinary field of work and employment relations, of which conflict resolution and union activities are but components.

The Canadian law journal Industrial Relations (Faculty of Law, Laval University, see www.riir.ulaval.ca), describes industrial relations as follows:

"... industrial relations ... traditionally includes human resource management, public policies and labour relations."

The American law journal Industrial and Labor Relations Review defines industrial relations as follows:

"We define industrial relations to include a broad range of market, organizational, and institutional processes related to the world of work.

"Relevant topics include the organization of work, the nature of employment contracts, human resource management, employment relations, conflict management and dispute resolution, labor market dynamics and policies, labor and employment law, and employee attitudes and behaviors at work."

Compare with this statement of scope of the California Departrment of Industrial Relations, circa 2013:

"The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) was established in 1927. Its mission is to improve working conditions for California's wage earners and to advance opportunities for profitable employment in California.

"DIR administers and enforces laws governing wages, hours and breaks, overtime, retaliation, workplace safety and health, apprenticeship training programs, and medical care and other benefits for injured workers. DIR also publishes materials and holds workshops and seminars to promote healthy employment relations, conducts research to improve its programs, and coordinates with other agencies to target egregious violators of labor laws and tax laws in the underground economy."

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