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ESRC Impact Acceleration Account

Unacceptable Forms of Work: A Global Dialogue

The elimination of UFW has been identified by the ILO’s Director-General as an Area of Critical Importance for the future work of the Organization (ILO Director-General’s Report to the International Labour Conference Towards the ILO Centenary 2013). This research project led by Deirdre McCann (University of Durham) and Judy Fudge (University of Kent) has generated a Multidimensional Model for identifying and addressing UFW.

Unacceptable Forms of Work

Contemporary working life is generating a growing segment of the global labour force in increasing insecurity and inequality. In the advanced industrialised economies, poorly paid and low quality employment is spreading, and in low-income countries, informal and insecure working relations are proliferating. These phenomena have prompted the United Nation’s International Labour Organization (ILO) to call for the elimination of ‘Unacceptable Forms of Work’ (UFW): work “in conditions that deny fundamental principles and rights at work, put at risk the lives, health, freedom, human dignity and security of workers or keep households in conditions of extreme poverty.”

Dr Deirdre McCann and Professor Judy Fudge have developed a multidimenstional model as a method of approaching the problem of unacceptable forms of work

Multidimensional Model

The Multidimensional Model of Unacceptable Forms of Work:

(1) identifies 12 substantive dimensions of unacceptability;

(2) establishes criteria for determining which forms of UFW are the priority for regulatory intervention;

(3) sets out a strategic approach for regulation of UFW that will ensure that regulatory interventions have system-wide and sustainable effects;

The Model is designed to be globally relevant. It can be used by local researchers and policy-makers to construct models of UFW suited to regional, national, sectoral and occupational contexts.

You can explore the new Multidimensional Model here

ILO policy report: Unacceptable Forms of Work

A research project led by Dr Deirdre McCann (Durham Law School) and Professor Judy Fudge (Kent Law School) - the Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work - responds to the growth in unacceptable work. It generates ideas for global policy on identifying and eliminating UFW. The first product was a policy report, commissioned by the ILO.

(See the Executive Summary).

A Global Dialogue

On 6-8th July, Dr Deirdre McCann organised a Global Dialogue at the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva and the University of Durham. The Dialogue brought together policy-makers and researchers from across the world to consider how to eliminate ‘unacceptable forms of work’.

Among the participants were Manuela Tomei, Director of the Conditions of Work and Equality Department at the ILO, Rocio Avila of the US National Domestic Workers Alliance and Professor Gary Craig, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Durham and convenor of the UK Forced Labour Monitoring Group. Participants also took part from the European Union (EU), United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

The Dialogue discussed Dr McCann’s UFW research project, reviewed innovative legal reforms, and generated proposals for future action. The findings were then shared with a global audience of policymakers and researchers in Geneva. As a consequence of the Dialogue, Dr McCann has intensified her collaboration with the ILO and is developing an impact-oriented research funding bid.

Watch Videos

In a series of short videos policy-makers, advocates and academics discuss the benefits of the Multidimensional Model of Unacceptable Forms of Work. Deirdre McCann outlines the features of the model, why the model is multidimensional, and what the model aims to capture.

Watch the videos here.