Gradually people's relationship to their employers moved from one of status - formal subordination and deference - to contract whereby people were formally free to choose their work.However, freedom of contract did not, as the economist Adam Smith observed, change a worker's factual dependency on employers.To tackle unemployment, all employees are entitled to reasonable notice before dismissal after a qualifying period of a month, after two years they can only be dismissed for a fair reason, and are entitled to a redundancy payment if their job was no longer economically necessary.
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In feudal England, the first significant labour laws followed the Black Death.
Given the shortage of workers and consequent price rises the Ordinance of Labourers 1349 and the Statute of Labourers 1351 attempted to suppress sources of wage inflation by banning workers organisation, creating offences for any able-bodied person that did not work, and fixing wages at pre-plague levels.
In the UK in 2012, of the total working population 29.6 million people were employed, there was 8.1% unemployment, and 73.4% without union membership.
The average income was £25,498, and the average working week was 41.4 hours.
To combat social exclusion, employers must positively accommodate the needs of disabled people.