Closing the Enforcement Gap: Improving Employment Standards Protections for People in Precarious Jobs

By Leah F. Vosko and the Closing the Enforcement Gap Research Group

© 2020

The nature of employment is changing: low wage jobs are increasingly common, fewer workers belong to unions, and workplaces are being transformed through the growth of contracting-out, franchising, and extended supply chains. Closing the Enforcement Gap offers a comprehensive analysis of the enforcement of employment standards in Ontario.

Adopting mixed methods, this work includes qualitative research involving in-depth interviews with workers, community advocates, and enforcement officials; extensive archival research excavating decades of ministerial records; and analysis of a previously untapped source of administrative data collected by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. The authors reveal and trace the roots of a deepening "enforcement gap" that pervades nearly all aspects of the regime, demonstrating that the province’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) fails too many workers who rely on the floor of minimum conditions it was devised to provide. Arguably, there is nothing inevitable about the enforcement gap in Ontario or for that matter elsewhere. Through contributions from leading employment standards enforcement scholars in the US, the UK, and Australia, as well as Quebec, Closing the Enforcement Gap surveys innovative enforcement models that are emerging in a variety of jurisdictions and sets out a bold vision for strengthening employment standards enforcement.

Closing the Enforcement Gap Research Group

Leah F. Vosko
Guliz Akkaymak
Rebecca Casey
Shelley Condratto
John Grundy
Alan Hall
Alice Hoe
Kiran Mirchandani
Andrea M. Noack
Urvashi Soni-Sinha
Mercedes Steedman
Mark P. Thomas
Eric M. Tucker

International/Quebec Contributors
Nick Clark
Dalia Gesualdi-Fecteau
Tess Hardy
John Howe
Guylaine Vallée
David Weil

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Comparative Political Economy and Public Policy
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 472 pages
  • Illustrations: 21
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.1in x 9.0in
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  • PUBLISHED MAR 2020

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Quick Overview

The sole source of protection for many workers in precarious jobs, this book reveals gaps in the enforcement of employment standards in Ontario, Canada, and offers a bold vision for change drawing on innovative initiatives emerging elsewhere.

Closing the Enforcement Gap: Improving Employment Standards Protections for People in Precarious Jobs

By Leah F. Vosko and the Closing the Enforcement Gap Research Group

© 2020

The nature of employment is changing: low wage jobs are increasingly common, fewer workers belong to unions, and workplaces are being transformed through the growth of contracting-out, franchising, and extended supply chains. Closing the Enforcement Gap offers a comprehensive analysis of the enforcement of employment standards in Ontario.

Adopting mixed methods, this work includes qualitative research involving in-depth interviews with workers, community advocates, and enforcement officials; extensive archival research excavating decades of ministerial records; and analysis of a previously untapped source of administrative data collected by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. The authors reveal and trace the roots of a deepening "enforcement gap" that pervades nearly all aspects of the regime, demonstrating that the province’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) fails too many workers who rely on the floor of minimum conditions it was devised to provide. Arguably, there is nothing inevitable about the enforcement gap in Ontario or for that matter elsewhere. Through contributions from leading employment standards enforcement scholars in the US, the UK, and Australia, as well as Quebec, Closing the Enforcement Gap surveys innovative enforcement models that are emerging in a variety of jurisdictions and sets out a bold vision for strengthening employment standards enforcement.

Closing the Enforcement Gap Research Group

Leah F. Vosko
Guliz Akkaymak
Rebecca Casey
Shelley Condratto
John Grundy
Alan Hall
Alice Hoe
Kiran Mirchandani
Andrea M. Noack
Urvashi Soni-Sinha
Mercedes Steedman
Mark P. Thomas
Eric M. Tucker

International/Quebec Contributors
Nick Clark
Dalia Gesualdi-Fecteau
Tess Hardy
John Howe
Guylaine Vallée
David Weil

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Comparative Political Economy and Public Policy
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 472 pages
  • Illustrations: 21
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.1in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "This is an exemplary case study in mixed methods research, which shows the value of a thorough integration of rigorous quantitative analysis with rich interview data, complemented by archival, policy, and regulatory analysis. An important aspect of this book is the attention paid to structural barriers to adequate enforcement – in particular, feminization, racialization, and migration and citizenship status. The analysis draws attention to the ways in which these barriers intersect and exemplifies the benefits of using critical and feminist political economy as conceptual frames."


    Sara Charlesworth, School of Management, RMIT University

    "For those who want to understand what happens in the implementation phase, after labour laws are passed, and the limitations of our current systems of labour standards enforcement, this is an incredibly important book by one of the foremost experts in our field and her talented team. It is exhaustively researched and nuanced but never loses the forest for the trees."


    Janice Fine, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University

    "A must-read for everyone who wants to understand why violations of basic workplace laws are everyday occurrences and how vulnerable employees can be better protected."


    Gerhard Bosch, Institut Arbeit und Qualifikation, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Fakultät für Gesellschaftswissenschaften
  • Author Information

    Leah F. Vosko is a professor of Political Science and Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Gender & Work at York University.
  • Table of contents

    List of Graphs, Tables, and Figures
    Authorship
    Acknowledgements
    Abbreviations

    1. Mapping the Enforcement Gap: Historical and Contemporary Dynamics

    Part One: Charting the Employment Standards Enforcement Gap in Ontario

    2. Responsibilization, Reprisal, and (Non)Remediation: Interrogating the Role of an Individualized Complaints System
    3. Administering Complaints: Dilemmas of Accountability
    4. Recovering Employees' Wages?
    5. The Contradictory Role of Workplace Inspections
    6. The Deterrence Gap: Towards an Explanation
    7. Strengthening Participatory Approaches to Enforcement

    Part Two: Views from Elsewhere: Contextualizing the Employment Standards Enforcement Gap in Ontario

    8. Enforcement of Wage Recovery in Britain
    9. Out of the Shadows and into the Spotlight: The Sweeping Evolution of Employment Standards Enforcement in Australia
    10. Enforcing Employment Standards in Quebec: One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward?
    11. Strategic Enforcement to Confront Wage Theft in the US: An Insider Account
    12. Improving Protections for People in Precarious Jobs

    Notes
    Supplementary Information on Quantitative and Qualitative Methods: Ontario Component

    Appendix A: Quantitative Data
    A.1. Administrative Data
    A.2. National Surveys

    Appendix B: Qualitative Data
    B.1. Worker Interviews
    B.2. MOL Interviews
    B.3. Community Representative Interviews

    Appendix C: Archival Research

    Bibliography
    Secondary Sources
    Primary Sources
    Government Documents
    Statistics
    Archival Sources

    Index
    Glossary

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