Regulating supply-chains to address the occupational health and safety problems associated with precarious employment: The case of home-based clothing workers in Australia

Nossar, Igor, Johnstone, Richard, & Quinlan, Michael (2003) Regulating supply-chains to address the occupational health and safety problems associated with precarious employment: The case of home-based clothing workers in Australia. Australian National University. [Working Paper]

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Over the past 20 years the labour market, workforce and work organisation of most if not all industrialised countries have been significantly refashioned by the increased use of more flexible work arrangements, variously labelled as precarious employment or contingent work. There is now a substantial and growing body of international evidence that many of these arrangements are associated with a significant deterioration in occupational health and safety (OHS), using a range of measures such as injury rates, disease, hazard exposures and work-related stress. Moreover, there is an emerging body of evidence that these arrangements pose particular problems for conventional regulatory regimes. Recognition of these problems has aroused the concern of policy makers - especially in Europe, North America and Australia - and a number of responses have been adopted in terms of modifying legislation, producing new guidance material and codes of practice and revised enforcement practices. This article describes one such in itiative in Australia with regard to home-based clothing workers. The regulatory strategy developed in one Australian jurisdiction (and now being ‘exported’ into others) seeks to counter this process via contractual tracking mechanisms to follow the work, tie in liability and shift overarching legal responsibility to the top of the supply chain. The process also entails the integration of minimum standards relating to wages, hours and working conditions; OHS and access to workers’ compensation. While home-based clothing manufacture represents a very old type of ‘flexible’ work arrangement, it is one that regulators have found especially difficult to address. Further, the elaborate multi-tiered subcont racting and diffuse work locations found in this industry are also characteristic of newer forms of contingent work in other industries (such as some telework) and the regulatory challenges they pose (such as the tendency of elaborate supply chains to attenuate and fracture statutory responsibilities, at least in terms of the attitudes and behaviour of those involved).

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ID Code: 78229
Item Type: Working Paper
Refereed: No
ISSN: 1030-7222
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 Australian National University
Deposited On: 03 Nov 2014 02:47
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2015 03:54

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