The Enforcement Crisis in Labour Law and the Fallacy of Voluntarist Solutions

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Labour laws are facing an enforcement crisis: a large and increasing number of employers fail to obey them. This paper begins by putting forward a number of reasons for this development, which carries with it harsh consequences for many workers around the world. It then warns against the trend towards ‘soft law’ solutions that include a voluntarist component. Although these ‘soft’ regulations that aim to create positive incentives could certainly be useful in the labour law context, when invoked as a solution to compliance problems they translate into an unjustified lowering of standards. The paper then moves to examine solutions used or proposed in the context of cleaning and security workers in the Israeli public sector, as a case study. A proposed solution in the context of identifying the real employer, that includes a voluntary component, is criticized as an example of unjustified deregulation. Two additional solutions – one to reject repeat offenders and the other to prohibit money-losing contracts – are used to show that incentive schemes can be used successfully to improve compliance without voluntary components that result in lowering standards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-81
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


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