We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Rethinking Workplace Regulation

Beyond the Standard Contract of Employment

Katherine V.W. Stone, Harry Arthurs

Publication Year: 2013

During the middle third of the 20th century, workers in most industrialized countries secured a substantial measure of job security, whether through legislation, contract or social practice. This “standard employment contract,” as it was known, became the foundation of an impressive array of rights and entitlements, including social insurance and pensions, protection against unsociable working conditions, and the right to bargain collectively. Recent changes in technology and the global economy, however, have dramatically eroded this traditional form of employment. Employers now value flexibility over stability, and increasingly hire employees for short-term or temporary work. Many countries have also repealed labor laws, relaxed employee protections, and reduced state-provided benefits. As the old system of worker protection declines, how can labor regulation be improved to protect workers? In Rethinking Workplace Regulation, nineteen leading scholars from ten countries and half a dozen disciplines present a sweeping tour of the latest policy experiments across the world that attempt to balance worker security and the new flexible employment paradigm. Edited by noted socio-legal scholars Katherine V.W. Stone and Harry Arthurs, Rethinking Workplace Regulation presents case studies on new forms of dispute resolution, job training programs, social insurance and collective representation that could serve as policy models in the contemporary industrialized world. The volume leads with an intriguing set of essays on legal attempts to update the employment contract. For example, Bruno Caruso reports on efforts in the European Union to “constitutionalize” employment and other contracts to better preserve protective principles for workers and to extend their legal impact. The volume then turns to the field of labor relations, where promising regulatory strategies have emerged. Sociologist Jelle Visser offers a fresh assessment of the Dutch version of the ‘flexicurity’ model, which attempts to balance the rise in nonstandard employment with improved social protection by indexing the minimum wage and strengthening rights of access to health insurance, pensions, and training. Sociologist Ida Regalia provides an engaging account of experimental local and regional “pacts” in Italy and France that allow several employers to share temporary workers, thereby providing workers job security within the group rather than with an individual firm. The volume also illustrates the power of governments to influence labor market institutions. Legal scholars John Howe and Michael Rawling discuss Australia's innovative legislation on supply chains that holds companies at the top of the supply chain responsible for employment law violations of their subcontractors. Contributors also analyze ways in which more general social policy is being renegotiated in light of the changing nature of work. Kendra Strauss, a geographer, offers a wide-ranging comparative analysis of pension systems and calls for a new model that offers “flexible pensions for flexible workers.” With its ambitious scope and broad inquiry, Rethinking Workplace Regulation illustrates the diverse innovations countries have developed to confront the policy challenges created by the changing nature of work. The experiments evaluated in this volume will provide inspiration and instruction for policymakers and advocates seeking to improve worker’s lives in this latest era of global capitalism.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (33.6 KB)
p. 3-3


pdf iconDownload PDF (32.1 KB)
p. 4-4


pdf iconDownload PDF (47.6 KB)
pp. v-vii

Tables and Figures

pdf iconDownload PDF (24.9 KB)
pp. ix-xii


pdf iconDownload PDF (46.5 KB)
pp. xiii-xiv

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (22.1 KB)
pp. xv-16

This project was initially funded by a presidential grant from the Russell Sage Foundation. We thank Eric Wanner, president of the foundation, for the confidence he showed in the project by providing this grant, as well as for his intellectual engagement with, and sustained support for, our efforts. We also much appreciated the opportunity...

read more

1. The Transformation of Employment Regimes: A Worldwide Challenge

pdf iconDownload PDF (167.7 KB)
pp. 1-20

Around the world, workers are embattled, labor markets are in disarray, and labor laws are in flux. The premise of this volume is that the decline of the standard employment contract is both a cause and an effect of these developments. Employment relationships, we argue, have become increasingly unstable in most industrialized countries...

Part I: The New Political Economy of Employment

pdf iconDownload PDF (20.1 KB)
pp. 21-78

read more

2. Changes in the Labor Market and the Nature of Employment in Western Countries

pdf iconDownload PDF (114.5 KB)
pp. 23-41

The labor policies of Western developed countries were generally established in an earlier era when the nature of work was quite different from what it is today. The old world of work was generally characterized as male-dominated involving blue-collar manufacturing jobs in a fixed worksite with lifetime jobs often protected by a tariff...

read more

3. Labor Market Regulation and the Global Economic Crisis

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.8 KB)
pp. 42-57

The current economic crisis has increased rates of unemployment and exacerbated a long-term weakening of institutions such as employment security, labor regulation, and collective bargaining. This trend has different particulars for different nations, but has common general characteristics everywhere. High unemployment...

read more

4. The Decline of the Standard Contract of Employment in the United States: A Socio-Regulatory Perspective

pdf iconDownload PDF (174.1 KB)
pp. 58-78

A potent mix of globalization, technological change, and neoliberal public policies is undermining established employment practices as well as employment regulatory regimes around the world. The employment relationship is being transformed from a long-term stable relationship between an employee and a firm to one in which...

Part II: Revising Legal Conceptions of Employment

pdf iconDownload PDF (20.1 KB)
pp. 79-111

read more

5. Burying Caesar: What Was the Standard Employment Contract?

pdf iconDownload PDF (131.2 KB)
pp. 81-94

Mark Antony’s famous funeral oration to his Roman friends and countrymen is so heavily charged with irony and manipulation of the crowd that it is difficult to extract a straightforward sentence from it. His underlying purpose is clear enough: he is seeking to vindicate an institution that he reveres against detractors and assassins. A somewhat...

read more

6. “The Employment Contract Is Dead! Hurrah for the Work Contract!” A European Perspective

pdf iconDownload PDF (172.2 KB)
pp. 95-111

This chapter presents the recent history of the individual employment contract in a civil law system (that of Italy), describes its current functions, and considers its potential transformation in the European context. As often the case when applying the comparative method, we come to perceive that, even within the same trends and...

Part III: The Restructuring of Labor Market Institutions

pdf iconDownload PDF (20.1 KB)
pp. 113-210

read more

7. Erosion, Exhaustion, or Renewal? New Forms of Collective Bargaining in Germany

pdf iconDownload PDF (345.5 KB)
pp. 115-134

Industrial relations and collective bargaining in Germany are experiencing an upheaval. Traditionally, collective bargaining actors and collective bargaining itself have been driving forces in the development and definition of standard employment relationships characterized by well-paid, permanent, and full-time labor...

read more

8. Flexibility and Security in Post–Standard Employment Relations: The Netherlands

pdf iconDownload PDF (295.3 KB)
pp. 135-154

In recent times, the Netherlands has been one of the most successful advanced economies in terms of raising employment levels and keeping unemployment down. Since 1993, it has maintained an unemployment rate consistently lower than the EU average, and employment rates for both men and women rising...

read more

9. Regional and Local Experiments for Labor Market Policy in Europe

pdf iconDownload PDF (116.8 KB)
pp. 155-173

In assessing the potential for regional and local-level interventions in labor-market policy intended to bolster job security for workers hired on flexible contracts in Europe, this chapter does not take a normative approach. Its aim is not to propose changes or reforms through legislation or collective agreements among social...

read more

10. New Forms of Dispute Resolution: Japan’s Labor Tribunal System

pdf iconDownload PDF (445.0 KB)
pp. 174-193

When labor contracts become unstable, atypical, nonstandard employment becomes prevalent, and employment mobility increases, labor disputes tend to come to the surface. Under the long-term and stable employment relationship, employees are hesitant to file claims with courts and other external...

read more

11. Organizational Primacy: Employment Conflict in a Post–Standard Contract World

pdf iconDownload PDF (106.2 KB)
pp. 194-210

In the era of the standard employment contract, conflicts between employees and employers often centered on the question of whether the employer was abiding by the terms of the standard contract or the employee was being unfairly denied the normal benefits derived from working under such a contract. With the decline of the standard contract, the nature...

Part IV: Beyond the Employment Nexus

pdf iconDownload PDF (20.1 KB)
pp. 211-270

read more

12. Flexibility and Security in Employment Regulation: Learning from Denmark

pdf iconDownload PDF (230.4 KB)
pp. 213-232

In a remarkably short time, flexicurity, a portmanteau of flexibility and security, has emerged on the international political scene as a new and popular concept for reforms of labor markets, labor laws, and employment policies. An innovative policy experiment, it promises to reconcile the contradictory...

read more

13. The Regulation of Supply Chains: An Australian Contribution to Cross-National Legal Learning

pdf iconDownload PDF (120.3 KB)
pp. 233-252

One of the key features of the standard employment contract is a direct relationship between an employer and an employee. Labor law scholars have for some time highlighted the artificiality of this restriction on the regulatory scope of labor law, in that it excludes workers deserving of social protection but engaged under nonstandard work arrangements...

read more

14. Organizing Nonstandard Workers in Japan: Old Players and New Players

pdf iconDownload PDF (158.2 KB)
pp. 253-270

Japanese union membership reached its highest level in history, 12.7 million, in 1994; by 2006 it had declined to 10.04 million. This lengthy negative trend was arrested in 2007 by two developments. First, traditional enterprise-based unions abandoned their previous practice and began to organize nonstandard workers. Second...

Part V: Social Policy in Changing Labor Markets

pdf iconDownload PDF (20.1 KB)
pp. 271-350

read more

15. Safety Nets and Transition Assistance: Continuity and Change in a Liberal Welfare State

pdf iconDownload PDF (108.3 KB)
pp. 273-291

To a large extent, the standard employment contract and the welfare state grew up together, emerging hand-in-hand across the middle years of the twentieth century. Some of the earliest welfare policy measures in Europe and Australia were precisely about constructing the type of life course that characterized industrialized...

read more

16. Flexible Work, Flexible Pensions: Labor Market Change and the Evolution of Retirement Savings

pdf iconDownload PDF (392.9 KB)
pp. 292-313

If a new paradigm of employment has emerged, albeit unevenly, in many developed economies, fundamentally related to the increasing instability of the standard contract of employment (see chapter 4, this volume), it should come as no surprise that a new paradigm in occupational (employment-related) pensions has also gained...

read more

17. Work-Family Balance and Gender Equality: Pension Reform and Antidiscrimination Law

pdf iconDownload PDF (116.2 KB)
pp. 314-332

How might the decline of the standard employment contract affect the future of gender equality? The standard employment contract assumes the long-term, continuous attachment of the full-time worker to the employer (Stone 2004, 3). It was designed with a male breadwinner in mind...

read more

18. Social Rights in Changing Labor Markets: Caring for Caregivers in the European Union

pdf iconDownload PDF (206.5 KB)
pp. 333-350

Labor markets have been transformed not only by the advent of new and more insecure forms of employment relations but also by the arrival of new populations of workers, among whom women feature most prominently. And the regulation of labor markets has been challenged not only by globalization, technology, and a declining...

Part VI: Learning Without Borders

pdf iconDownload PDF (20.1 KB)
pp. 351-368

read more

19. Cross-National Legal Learning: The Uses of Comparative Labor Knowledge, Law, and Policy

pdf iconDownload PDF (87.0 KB)
pp. 353-365

Previous chapters offer ample evidence that advanced economies are responding to the growing incidence of nonstandard employment by experimenting with new approaches to labor market regulation. This chapter asks the crucial question: What can we learn from these experiments...

read more

Appendix: The Decline in the Standard Employment Contract: A Review of the Evidence

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 366-404

This volume is premised on the proposition that labor markets in advanced industrialized countries have changed profoundly over the past three decades. We refer to this change as the decline of the standard contract of employment—using that term to describe a social practice that was widespread, if not paradigmatic, in most advanced...


pdf iconDownload PDF (96.3 KB)
pp. 405-421

E-ISBN-13: 9781610448031
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871548597

Page Count: 440
Publication Year: 2013