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Labour law and human rights: legal and philosophical perspectives

Atkinson, Joe; (2020) Labour law and human rights: legal and philosophical perspectives. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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There is a widespread belief that labour law is amid a protracted existential crisis, in part caused by uncertainty over the discipline’s justification and normative foundations. Against this background, the purpose of this thesis is to examine human rights as potential foundations for labour law and deepen our understanding of the relationship between labour law and human rights. It argues that human rights are an important justificatory idea for labour law and provide a normative benchmark and moral standard that can be used to evaluate existing legal frameworks and guide reforms. In developing this claim, the thesis first identifies a ‘normative gap’ in labour law’s traditional justificatory narrative, which is rooted in the idea of counteracting employees’ unequal bargaining power, and suggests that a pluralistic approach be pursued to filling this normative gap. It then argues that a normative and philosophical approach must be adopted to fully understand the relationship between human rights and labour law, with a specific philosophical conception of human rights being adopted as the basis for the analysis. A theory of human rights is then set out and used to identify the normative implications of human rights for labour law. Under this theory, workers’ human rights must be legally protected against employer infringements, and legal frameworks must be established to secure decent working conditions for all, as well as mechanisms that enable workers to exercise voice and make themselves heard. Finally, the thesis demonstrates how human rights theory can be operationalised to assess existing labour law rules, by scrutinising the reforms introduced by the Trade Union Act 2016 from philosophical and legal human rights perspectives. In sum, the thesis demonstrates that human rights are an important foundational perspective for labour law and can provide a philosophical framework to address pressing issues facing the discipline.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Labour law and human rights: legal and philosophical perspectives
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Human Rights, Labour and Employment Law
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Laws
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10093788
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