The evolving nature of labour inspection, enforcement of employment rights and the regulatory reach of the state in Britain

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The role of the state in directly regulating employment through enforcement mechanisms is increasingly significant and politically contentious in a context of weakened unions and the increasingly fragmented and precarious nature of the labour market. This article focuses on qualitative research on labour market regulatory actors in Britain including the Health and Safety Executive, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, as well as referencing relevant changes in HM Revenue and Customs, trade unions, legal and advice services and other state agencies. The article argues that a curious dynamic is emerging in labour market regulation involving simultaneous processes of deregulation, greater levels of direct intervention in some areas alongside marketization, and innovative forms of collaboration between relevant state agencies. Much of this is, however, driven by constraints imposed through economic austerity and neoliberal policies with an increasing focus on immigration and policing concerns, creating notable sets of organisational tensions within and between the agencies and the work of their relevant inspectors.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Early online date14 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020