Labour Law, Vulnerability and the Regulation of Precarious Work

Labour Law, Vulnerability and the Regulation of Precarious Work

Lisa Rodgers

The shifting nature of employment practice towards the use of more precarious work forms has caused a crisis in classical labour law and engendered a new wave of regulation. This timely book deftly uses this crisis as an opportunity to explore the notion of precariousness or vulnerability in employment relationships. Its logical structure situates vulnerability in its developmental context before moving on to examine the goals of the regulation of labour law for vulnerability, its current status in the law and case studies of vulnerability such as temporary agency work and domestic work.

Chapter 5: Temporary agency work

Lisa Rodgers

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, labour, employment law, law and society, legal theory

Extract

The aim of this chapter is to investigate the themes identified in the previous chapters and apply them to one labour market group: temporary agency workers. This group has been selected on the basis that temporary agency workers are generally considered among the most vulnerable on the labour market. This vulnerability has been presented as associated with a number of external pressures. These external pressures include the insertion of (all) workers into the capitalist system of production, as well as more specific economic elements such as the rise of ‘new’ forms of work following the advent of globalisation or the economic crisis of 2008. For example, temporary agency work has been presented as a typical example of one of the ‘new’ forms of work organisation associated with the globalisation of the economy. Vulnerability arises when temporary agency work is used primarily as a cost-saving measure for firms seeking to maximise flexibility. The use of temporary agency work in this way means there is no incentive for companies to invest in these workers, which leaves the potential for temporary agency work to be poorly paid, low quality and lacking in job security. Temporary agency workers are also poorly organised as companies have become global players who have no incentive to invest in ‘local’ collective bargaining mechanisms (which often exclude agency workers in any event). In fact, this description may be rather simplistic and misleading.

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