In the past, the common law appeared to value the need for an employee to be loyal and obedient and there was no responsibility on the part of the employer to ensure that the worker had access to economic welfare and job security. However, it appears that the common law also imported the notion of an implied obligation of mutual trust and confidence between employers and employees and that this pattern is evidenct in the jurisprudence of courts in the United States. It is argued by many legal scholars that the pattern of employment law as it is dealt with by the common law tends to favour employers in that labour unions are regulated with an assumption of distrust and that the law tends to adopt the values of conservative political participants such as journalists, politicians and senior bureacrats.
It is often referred to as the unitary view of labour relations which is contrasted with some of the other views such as the pluralist approach which recognises that management and labour may and do have different and competing interests because employers are ultimately concerned to make profit whereas employees are most focused on having the best possible working conditions, a healthly and safe work environment and occupational security. The pluralist view is sometimes extended to what is termed the radical view of labour relations which is associated with Marxist economic theory and posits that capitalism is endemically prone to industrial conflict owning to the exploitative nature of economic relationships in a captialist system. However, many scholars seem to accept that both the radical and libertartian view of labour relations are too extreme to accurately reflect reality.
In the modern super flexible economy where persons can and do change careers quickly and regularly, there are few workplaces with standard hours of work and there are increasing numbers of people engaged in work from home via the phenomenon of teleworking, the old concepts of labour law are beginning to become outdated. In previous times the concept of labour law was that a person would do work for an employer in a single location, in a single occupation for a single employer. Now workers tend to work a range of employers at once, often on a part time or casual basis. Also, there are now a large number of people who view themselves as self-employed. These trends are explained by the preceived desire of workers to claim flexibility in their working arrangements. It also means that greater efficiency can be gained from the power of technology to allow teleworking. However, despite all of these changes, there has not been a repudiation of the need for there to be a written employment contract between an employer and employee.