Regulating the automation of employment through redundancy law: a comparative policy approach

LexisNexis Australia
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Labour Law, 2020, 32 (3)
Issue Date:
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This article investigates redundancy law as a policy option for regulating the rapid increase in the automation of employment and automation-led unemployment predicted to occur within the Global North by the mid twenty-first century. It critically examines these predictions before contextualising redundancy law as a policy strategy within a resurgent literature on full employment and the importance of work to human social development. The paper then embarks on a substantive discussion of the current legal framework surrounding Australian redundancy law and its shortcomings. The focus here includes the definition of redundancy, the amount of redundancy compensation and the labour market coverage of current redundancy law. In response, three reforms are proposed, to: (i) amend the statutory conception of redundancy by reviving the former legal distinction between intentional and unintentional redundancies; (ii) increase the amount of redundancy pay; and (iii) extend the coverage of redundancy protections to precarious workers. These proposals are informed by the evolution of Australian redundancy law in statute and industrial tribunals and courts between the 1960s and 80s, as well as German policy responses to automation in the automotive industry in the 1980s and 90s.
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