Blog and news
April 25, 2024

Roundtable on the Economic Impacts of Labour Laws

On Wednesday 24th April, IFOW co-hosted a roundtable with Digit Futures of Work Research Centre at Somerset House. Simon Deakin - professor of law at Cambridge University, presented new research that has examined the impact of labour laws on economic performance across 117 countries over a time-span of 50 years.

In seeking to protect workers, do labour laws actually end up harming them and the economy? Do they introduce rigidities and distortions into hiring decisions, causing unemployment to rise? Or do labour laws, by protecting workers from arbitrary treatment, help to create a more productive, more inclusive economy?

The opening remarks were given by Justin Madders MP, Shadow Minister for both the Future of Work and Employment Rights and Protections.

Professor Deakin's work estimates the impacts of the UK’s labour laws on four key economic indicators: productivity, employment, unemployment, and the labour share of national income (the share of income going to wages and salaries as opposed to dividends and profits). It finds that stronger labour protection is associated with higher employment and lower unemployment. Particular types of labour laws, including those regulating flexible working, working time, and employee representation, can have positive productivity effects.

Following Simon's presentation, Jackie O'Reilly from Digit chaired an excellent discussion, with representatives from lead government departments as well as those specialising in labour and employment law.

Professor Deakin's research has been published here by Digit Futures of Work Research.


Kester Brewin


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