Drawing from original empirical data this paper compares the changing nature of employment relations in the health and private sectors. A key concern is to assess the extent to which the emergence of partnership‐type arrangements between employers and trade unions lays the basis for the “renewal” of the traditional public sector concept of the model employer. Empirically, the paper draws on a survey of trade union representatives from 238 workplaces and a case study of a hospital trust. The data reveal that employment relations in the NHS are more collectivist when compared with the private sector. However, the development of partnership in the NHS is hamstrung by ongoing training and involvement gaps and widespread work intensification.
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