Beyond Vulnerable Workers: Towards a New Standard Employment Relationship

Document Type


Publication Date


Source Publication

Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal. Volume 12 (2005), p. 151-176.


In this paper the author considers the relationship between the proliferation of vulnerable workers in the Canadian labour market and the deterioration of the "standard" employment relationship. In her view, law reform and policy initiatives aimed at improving the situation of vulnerable or precarious workers fail to address a crucial related problem, namely the decline in standard employment, as evidenced by such indicia as the stagnation of median wages, the growth in earnings inequality and the drop in defined-benefit pension plan coverage. The author traces this decline to labour market restructuring, and in particular to the effects of globalization, demographic change and deregulation. At the same time, the author points out that the traditional employment relationship, which was based on an anachronistic division of labour between men and women, and an inflexible model of work organization, is no longer viable in the new economy There/ore, she argues, the key issue is whether it is possible to create a new form of standard employment, one which ensures equal access to the labour market and increases flexibility while continuing to protect employees from economic and social risk. Ultimately, the author contends, policy-makers must address the underlying issue of the distribution of power in the labour market.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

This document is currently not available here.