The Legal Concept of Employment: Marginalizing Workers

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The topic of this report is the legal concept of employment because employment is the most important concept for determining the legal protection associated with different forms of paid work. Employment establishes the boundary between the economic zone of commercial relations, entrepreneurship, and competition, on the one hand, and the economic zone of labour protection, economic dependency, and regulation, on the other. This report focuses on how the law distinguishes between employment and self-employment, placing emphasis on own-account self-employment, where the self-employed person does not employ other employees. This case study is selected because it provides an opportunity to examine the normative question of whether labour protection ought to be limited to only certain forms of paid work. Moreover, the dramatic growth of self-employment since the 1980s in Canada raises important questions about the operation of labour markets, whether self-employment is coterminous with entrepreneurship, and the adequacy of prevailing legal tests of employment status for determining the personal scope of labour protection and social benefits.


Report for the Law Commission of Canada

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