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Durham University

Durham Law: Policy Engagement

Law's Dynamic Effects

THE GLOBAL REGULATORY CHALLENGE: EXTENDING LAW'S DYNAMIC EFFECTS



Expanding the reach and influence of labour laws is among the central challenges of contemporary labour regulation. Formal legal standards do not reach all workers. They may influence only a small percentage of the working population in countries with large informal economies.

New research on labour regulation, however, is highlighting ‘institutional dynamism’: the capacity of labour law systems to (1) extend beyond their formal parameters, including to informal settings and (2) interact with other institutions e.g. collective bargaining.


ENHANCING INSTITUTIONAL DYNAMISM: A RESEARCH AGENDA

Institutional dynamism is a potential gateway to improved protective outcomes. It has particular potential for the regulation of UFW in low-income settings - by extending the reach of legislated standards without costly investgments in labour inspection and enforcement. Yet the operation of law's dynamics effects needs further investigation.

The Strategic Network on Legal Regulation of Unacceptable Forms of Work has designed a set of Research Agendas on combatting unacceptable work. The Research Agenda on Law's Dynamic Effects proposes a research strategy to investigate how institutional dynamism can be incorporated into decent work policies.

The Research Agenda has been designed by a Strategic Network Team that includes researchers and policy actors from across the world:


AN ILLUSTRATION: ARGENTINA, NEW ZEALAND AND VIET NAM

Comparative research on regulatory frameworks is crucial to combat UFW. It can provide global lessons from innovations in different countries. For this reason, the Network Team on Law's Dynamic Effects suggests that comparisons should focus on the most globallly-significant legal innovations to combat UFW.

As an illustration, three key interventions have recently been introduced in Viet Nam, Argentina, and New Zealand: a minimum wage-setting framework in Viet Nam, the extension of minimum wage rights to the informal sector in Argentina, and legislation to curb 'zero hours contracts' in New Zealand.

These countries are diverse in socio-economic development, legal systems and economic development and labour marekt strategies. Yet they have potential to generate lessons on innovative legal techniques in UFW regulation. Each is attempting to introduce legal regulation into arenas previously unregulated by formal norms. To be considered effective, the new norms would need to embed in working practices and extend across the economy, inclduing in the most vulnerable sectors.



A GLOBAL RESEARCH AGENDA

For further details, see our global research agenda on law's dynamic effects.

The agenda identifies a set of key resarch questions:

  • what regulatory frameworks and mechanisms can trigger and enhance dynamic effects?
  • which legal standards demonstrate dynamic effects e.g. rules on minimum wages, working hours, rest periods?
  • can these dynamics be enhanced and harnessed for policy objectives through the design and implementation of regulatory fraemworks or by actor strategies?