Michael Walton, ‘The Shifting Nature of Work and Its Implications’

Employment is a critical feature of modern society. The nature of employment not only determines the operation of the economy and economic and business prosperity but also determines the quality of individuals’ lives. In that respect, work is both an economic transaction and central to human life and dignity. There has been a seismic shift in how employment manifests in twenty-first-century Western economies. Rapid growth in non-standard forms of employment, and the corresponding decline of the standard employment contract, has resulted in a less stable and more fragmented labour market. Flexibility may benefit a worker who can operate successfully as a ‘free agent in a boundary-less workplace’. However, others may become stuck in enclaves, unable to access permanent work and having little bargaining power. This raises the prospect of the existence of a ‘dual labour market’, where workers are separated into primary and secondary markets. Those engaged in the primary market will have job security and opportunities for advancement, while those in secondary markets will become increasingly vulnerable. Regulatory systems based upon traditional models of employment are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges these developments pose for modern economies.

Michael J Walton, The Shifting Nature of Work and Its Implications. Industrial Law Journal (2016) doi: 10.1093/indlaw/dww014.

First posted 2016-05-08 07:29:03

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