Employment - Term Overview

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Employment is the generation of value from the activity produced by a person. That is, the employee contributes his work and knowledge in favor of the employer, in exchange for an economic compensation known as salary.

The relationship of societies with respect to employment is one of the main indices that measures their development. Thus, the most developed countries tend towards full employment or, in other words, for labor supply and demand to reach the point of equilibrium.

However, in less developed nations unemployment is rife , where workers don't get a job, and underemployment. The latter means that trained people must perform lower-skilled jobs, or work fewer hours than they need or want.

It should also be explained that there is black employment, where workers don't enjoy the benefits of labor laws, such as vacations, extra pay or compensation.

On the other hand, not everyone who employs their workforce does it for other people. Thus, there are individuals who work in their own business, who are the self-employed, who carry out their activity with a certain risk since the company can yield both profits and losses.

Employment history

The current conception of the term "employment" is related to the arrival of the 19th century, when both slavery, typical of the dawn of Humanity, and serfdom, typical of the Middle Ages, were eradicated. This, thanks to the recognition of freedom and respect for the physical and moral integrity of man.

It was in this period that the Industrial Revolution led to many of the protections that safeguard today's workers. The replacement of labor by machinery had at first pernicious consequences in society, insofar as it led to misery to a large number of employees.

However, this helpless position of the worker led to the establishment of unions that looked after their interests.

Once the Second World War ended, the Welfare State was born -based on the theories of the economist John Maynard Keynes-, where the workers, already perfectly organized in unions, managed to have what we know today as " labor rights".

From that moment, employees began to enjoy vacations, pay, weekly rest days according to the amount of work they worked, and days of no more than eight hours, while the salaries of the time were visibly increased.

Shortly after, in 1948, the United Nations (UN) proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document in which employment is already conceived as an activity carried out by an individual, through their free choice.

At present, employment is a difficult circumstance to guarantee for the entire labor supply, which makes states try to reduce the number of unemployed to a minimum and, ultimately, alleviate the negative consequences that derive from the situation.

Employment in the 21st century

According to the World Bank, the total workforce comprises people aged 15 and over who meet the definition of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Thus, for the ILO, the economically active population groups together all the people who contribute work for the production of goods and services during a specific period. It includes both employed and unemployed persons.

While national practices vary, in general, the workforce includes the armed forces, the unemployed and those looking for their first job. However, those who take care of the home and other unpaid employees are excluded.

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