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Maarten van Klaveren and Kea Tijdens

This chapter aims to assess the size of informal employment from a gender perspective, focusing on industries with large shares of women workers and based on evidence from 14 countries. In these countries informal work was predominantly found in the agricultural sector. With a decreasing share of agriculture in total employment and a stable share of women, in the 2000s women’s informal employment decreased overall. The (further) shift of employment out of agriculture may be crucial for reducing vulnerable employment. However, in most countries this shift only partly translates into less vulnerable and higher value added activities, in particular in view of the characteristics of employment in commerce. The authors note that the lack of employment data on agriculture in national statistics hampers insight in the constraints for women of this major transformation, notably in terms of infrastructural provisions and basic services needed.

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Leah F. Vosko, John Grundy and Mark P. Thomas

The growth of precarious employment has drawn attention to a mounting crisis in employment standards enforcement, as mechanisms within traditional employment law are increasingly ineffective at ensuring protection for workers in precarious jobs. This growing enforcement crisis has coincided with the adoption of new regulatory strategies that show an increasing influence of regulatory new governance. Using reforms in four jurisdictions as illustrative examples, and set in the context of the employment standards enforcement crisis, this chapter raises serious concerns around the emergence of new modes of regulatory governance. The authors argue that new modes of regulation that fail to account adequately for the power dynamics of the employment relationship risk entrenching processes of regulatory degradation. In light of this failure, the chapter outlines four principles for more effective employment standards regulation that aim to balance aspects of traditional regulatory models with a selective application of more promising elements of regulatory new governance with the primary aim of ensuring regulatory protection for workers in precarious jobs.

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Fabio Bertranou and Luis Casanova

This chapter examines employment formalization in Argentina from 2003 to 2014 as well as the public policies associated with that process. It identifies the critical segments of informality along with the challenges they pose to a strategy aimed at reducing informality in a labour market that has proven relatively resistant to such reductions in recent years. The results show a decrease in informality for salaried employment, although there has not been a similar decrease among the self-employed. After a significant drop in non-registered salaried employment between 2003 and 2008, slower formal employment growth has offset advances in formalization. Informality affects nearly 44 per cent of all employed individuals. The need to develop specific actions as part of a comprehensive strategy is due to the characteristics of the critical segments of the labour market and the persistence of a heterogeneous productive structure.

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Ana Maria Vargas-Falla

Formalization, understood as gaining legal status to develop their businesses, is the mainstream policy to regulate the work of street vendors in most cities in the world. However, formalization policies are criticized by different scholars, and many vendors go back to the streets after formalization despite government efforts. To contribute to this long-standing debate, this chapter explores the relation between the formalization of street vendors and the improvement of their well-being. Formalization is addressed from the point of view of the vendors. The empirical data are based on an ethnographic study of a formalization programme for street vendors in the city of Bogotá, Colombia. A total of 169 vendors were interviewed. This study concludes that formalization often covers a very small number of street vendors, while the majority work informally and do not have access to formalization programmes. However, the few vendors who were formalized were better off after the formalization of their businesses. They gained confidence, self-respect and autonomy. They were empowered by the law that recognized their work and gave them legal status, contrary to previous laws that disempowered them and prohibited their livelihoods. Therefore, formalization can be a tool to enhance well-being when governments use the law to improve the life of the poor, and not as a tool of control.

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Byung-Hee Lee

This chapter addresses the puzzling question of why informal work is widespread in the Republic of Korea despite the presence of a wide variety of protective policies under labour law and a universal social insurance system. The informal work may occur because of the lack of relevant regulation or the lack of compliance. This study explores whether the main cause of informal work is lack of regulation – exclusion by law; orlack of compliance – exclusion in practice. This chapter finds that about 80 per cent of informal work in the Republic of Korea occurs under the relevant regulation, and that the low level of policy enforcement is the key to understanding the lack of compliance. These findings emphasize the need to reinforce the enforcement of protective policies.

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Colin Fenwick and Valérie Van Goethem

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Sara Charlesworth

This chapter aims to contribute to better understandings of the gendered regulatory context within which the remuneration and working conditions for home care work are negotiated and determined. Focusing on the Australian case, it highlights a dynamic process of formalization and informalization of employment standards in home care work. The chapter analyses both the incomplete process of formalization in respect to home care work until the late 1990s, and the more patchy process of informalization since that time, driven as much by outsourcing and government funding models as by changes in labour regulation.

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Edited by Colin Fenwick and Valérie Van Goethem

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Mark Freedland

In this chapter three interconnected arguments are put forward. Firstly, reflection upon the impacts of migration law upon labour law’s conception and regulation (or non-regulation) of ‘informal work’ produces significant insights into the analytical complexity and imprecision of the conception and the regulation of informal work (the ‘imprecision argument’). Secondly, reflection on the labour-law-generated and migration-law-generated model(s) of informal work discloses a particular set of normative ambiguities about the culpability of the worker for being engaged in informal work which has very important implications for the ways in which informal work is regulated (or not regulated) (the ‘normative ambiguity argument’). Thirdly, some suggestions are advanced as to how to construct an appropriate regulatory response to those insights, canvassing some ideas for improving the worker-protective regulation of informal work in ways which are inclusive of migrant workers rather than unduly exclusive of undocumented workers (the ‘argument for inclusiveness’).

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Jill Rubery

The current system of employment and social protection is increasingly regarded as favouring insiders and providing inadequate protection for those engaged in care work, and for the increasing numbers employed under non-standard contracts or under complex employment relationships spanning organizational boundaries. There is pressure from the mainstream to deregulate or from social policy circles to focus on universal social protection, not dependent on employment status. This chapter argues for an approach which combines more universal social protection with increased obligations on employers to extend protection across a wider variety of employment statuses. This combined approach is necessary as social protection is not sustainable if employers pass on too many decommodification costs to the state. Furthermore, employment regulation serves multiple functions, not only income and social protection: eight functions of employment regulation are identified and reforms proposed to make the regulation more inclusive and to promote employer responsibility.