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Durham University

Durham Law: Policy Engagement

Framed Flexibility

The Framed Flexibility Model is a framework for working time laws that is suited to the contemporary labour markets of the global North and South.

Designed by Deirdre McCann and Jill Murray, the Model responds to an urgent need: to find effective regulatory models for the precarious and informal working relations that are expanding across the advanced industrialised world and have long been characteristic of the South.

Framed Flexibility Principles

The Framed Flexibility Model is informed by key principles: 1) the universality of labour law’s protection; 2) the unity of labour law regimes; 3) work/family reconciliation; 4) the standardisation of working time laws; 5) regulated flexibility; 6) working time capability; 7) the interaction of regulatory techniques (legislation and collective bargaining); and 8) innovative regulation in the design of legal frameworks on working time.

Framed Flexibility Standards

The Framed Flexibility Model is not a universal model to be applied without modification. Instead, it is a resource for the design of measures at a range of regulatory levels and in diverse national settings.

It is underpinned by three sets of standards: 1) Framing Standards, which provide for protected standard working hours; 2) Temporal Flexibility Standards, which provide a degree of flexibility in favour of both employers and workers; and 3) Effective Regulation Standards, which ensure that the Framing Standards and Temporal Flexibility Standards exercise a decisive influence on working life.

Photo: Freedomz/

An illustration: Model Law on Working Time in Domestic Work

The Model Law on Working Time in Domestic Work provides a practical illustration of how the Framed Flexibility Standards can be applied in the regulation of working time in one of the key forms of informal labour: domestic work.

However, those sets of standards can be used to design working time standards across the labour force, with a particular focus on preventing casualised work.

Photo: DGLimages/

Temporal Casualisation and ‘Availability Time’: Mencap, Uber and the Framed Flexibility Model

This research paper by Professor Deirdre McCann investigates the UK Court of Appeal decisions in Uber and Mencap, which are being heard by the Supreme Court in 2020. The paper explores what these cases reveal about the regulatory dimensions of temporal casualisation. It argues that they expose a fracture between, on the one hand, legal frameworks on working time and wages, and on the other hand, the sectoral and gendered treatment of working hours.

The paper highlights the pertinence of Professor McCann's Framed Flexibility Model to conceptualising and regulating working time in these cases, with a particular focus on Mencap. It advocates that the Supreme Court should uphold and clarify the Court of Appeal’s decision in Uber and overturn the judgment in Mencap.

Download: Policy Briefings and Research Paper

These policy briefings outline the principles and sets of standards that underpin the Framed Flexibility Model and illustrate the Model through a sample Model Law on Working Time in Domestic Work. In addition, this research paper highlights the pertinence of the Framed Flexibility Model in conceptualising and regulating working time in casual work, with a focus on care labour.