The regulation of supply chains: An Australian contribution to cross-national legal learning

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Rethinking Workplace Regulation: Beyond the Standard Contract of Employment, 2013, 9781610448031 pp. 233 - 252
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Copyright © 2013 by the Russell Sage Foundation. One of the key features of the standard employment contract is a direct relationship between an employer and an employee. Labor law scholars have for some time highlighted the artificiality of this restriction on the regulatory scope of labor law, in that it excludes workers deserving of social protection but engaged under nonstandard work arrangements (for Australia, see Stewart 2002). Moreover, in the last three decades, business and government have become increasingly decentralized as a result of contracting out or outsourcing the provision of goods and services. This vertical disintegration or fragmentation of large organizations has meant that many workers are no longer directly employed by core businesses or government. The security and welfare of these workers has become the responsibility of less visible contractors, subcontractors, and franchisees down often extensive supply chains (Marshall 2006; Fudge 2006; Nossar 2007, 5-12). Literature indicates that the issues of fragmentation of the standard employment contract (see Stone 2010; Freedland 2006; Fudge 2006; Rubery, Earnshaw, and Marchington 2005) and the resulting exploitation of precarious workers (Benach, Muntaner, and Santana 2007; Quinlan, Mayhew, and Bohle 2001) transcend jurisdictional boundaries. Moreover, the literature is voluminous on the global expansion of supply chains and outsourcing, which documents the effects of these forms of business organization on vulnerable workers (British TUC Commission 2008, 147; De Luca-Tamajo and Perulli 2006; Johnstone 1999). These developments suggest that national governments in the developed world, as well as international bodies, should develop a more comprehensive set of protections for workers laboring at the base of supply chains across the globe.
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