Labour Administration in Uncertain Times

Labour Administration in Uncertain Times

Policy, Practice and Institutions

Edited by Jason Heyes and Ludek Rychly

The 2008 financial crisis marked the beginning of a prolonged and ongoing period of extreme economic turbulence that has created multiple challenges for both governments and national systems of labour administration. Difficult economic conditions are encouraging a reevaluation of established policies and institutions in the areas of labour, employment, social protection and industrial relations. This book analyses recent reforms in labour administration and national labour policies, charting their development and discussing the challenges and opportunities faced by governments, ministries of labour, labour inspectors, employer organisations and trade unions.

Chapter 1: Introduction: the origins and development of labour administration

Jason Heyes and Ludek Rychly

Subjects: economics and finance, labour economics, social policy and sociology, labour policy


The global financial crisis that began in 2008 and the economic crisis that ensued have had substantial and potentially long-lasting implications for the extent and nature of state intervention in the labour market and, by extension, for public administration activities and institutions relating to work and employment. These activities and institutions, which collectively comprise systems of ‘labour administration’, involve a variety of state bodies, including labour ministries (or their functional equivalents), public employment services, labour inspectorates, dispute resolution services, and vocational education and training institutions. Systems of labour administration vary in terms of their complexity, degree of centralization and the extent to which non-state actors (e.g. private and third-sector organizations, employer organizations and trade unions) contribute to governance and service delivery. They provide the institutional channels through which labour market policies are elaborated, implemented and monitored. However, while some components of labour administration systems, such as public employment services, have been the subject of a considerable amount of research, there have been few attempts to describe and make sense of wider developments in labour administration. The purpose of this volume is to aid the process of reflection on possible policy options and potential implications for labour administration in the wake of the crisis. As the crisis has served to make clear, policy and administration are intimately related. This book therefore discusses the role of labour administration in tackling the crisis, explores possibilities for the future course of labour policy development and considers the mechanisms by which policies may be implemented.