The Ordinance of Labourers 1349
is often considered to be the start of English labour law
. Along with the Statute of Labourers
(1351), it made the employment contract different from other contracts and made illegal any attempt on the part of workers to bargain collectively. Specifically, it fixed wages and imposed price controls
; required all those under the age of 60 to work; prohibited the enticing away of another's servants; and other terms.
The ordinance was issued in response to the 1348-1350 outbreak of the Black Death
.Cartwright, Frederick F. 1991. Disease and History
. New York: Barnes & Noble. pp. 32-46. The Plague and England
, Cardiff University. Retrieved on April 11, 2009.
Landowners had to face the choice of raising wages to compete for workers or letting their lands go unused. Wages for labourers rose and translated into inflation
across the economy as goods became more expensive to produce. The wealthy elites suffered under the sudden economic shift. Difficulties in hiring labour... Read More