Labour law (also labor law or employment law) mediates the relationship between workers (employees), employers, trade unions and the government. Collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, employer and union. Second, individual labour law concerns employees' rights at work and through the contract for work. The labour movement has been instrumental in the enacting of laws protecting labour rights in the 19th and 20th centuries. Labour rights have been integral to the social and economic development since the Industrial Revolution. Employment standards are social norms (in some cases also technical standards) for the minimum socially acceptable conditions under which employees or contractors will work. Government agencies (such as the former U.S. Employment Standards Administration) enforce employment standards codified by labour law (legislative, regulatory, or judicial).
Work permit is a generic term for a legal authorization which allows a person to take employment. It is most often used in reference to instances where a person is given permission to work in a country where one does not hold citizenship, but is also used in reference to minors, who in some jurisdictions require a permit in order to legally work due to Child Labor laws. Within an industry, a work permit may be required to execute certain functions within a factory outside of normal operational tasks (such as maintenance tasks) - in some places they might be called Permit to Work (PTW).
Currently, every EU country has a different process for granting work permits to nationals of non-EU countries. To address this issue, the European Commission began work in 1999 on developing an EU-wide process for the entry of non-EU nationals into the work force. In October 2007, they adopted a proposal to introduce a work permit similar to the United States' "Green Card" program, called the "Blue Card". It is similar to the UK's Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, with the exception that it will require an employment contract in place prior to migration. After two years in the first country, the migrant will be allowed to move and work in another EU country, and can sum the number of years spent in the EU for purposes of residency. This new card will abolish work permits across the EU and centralize the issuing from Brussels.