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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Deirdre McCann

McCann, Deirdre (2014). Equality Through Precarious Work Regulation: Lessons from the Domestic Work Debates in Defence of the Standard Employment Relationship. International Journal of Law in Context 10(4): 507-521.

Author(s) from Durham


Precarious work is a crucial impediment to substantive equality. This paper examines the regulation of precariousness in the light of two recent trends: the casualisation of employment in the wake of the crisis, and global efforts to regulate domestic work (e.g. ILO Domestic Workers Convention (No 189)). It takes these developments as an opportunity to explore the effective regulation of contemporary labour markets, and in particular the role of the Standard Employment Relationship (SER). The paper returns to two prominent accounts of the SER: Vosko's critique of SER-centrism in non-standard work regulation and Bosch's notion of the flexible-SER. It argues that the domestic work debates confirm the value of a modernised SER in its temporal dimensions. Yet the literature on precarious work tends to focus on regulatory settings in which the standard model remains dominant. The key contemporary challenge is to identify strategies that will embed this model in settings in which it is in decline or was never deep-rooted. Drawing on the notion of ‘reconstructive labour law’, the paper argues for innovative legal mechanisms that prompt the construction of flexibilised SER-type relationships. It concludes, however, that for these strategies to be effective, casualisation must be identified not only in contractual arrangements but also in working-time practices.