Friday, October 29, 2010
Bisom-Rapp, Frazer and Sargeant on Decent Work, Older Workers and Vulnerability in the Economic Recession
Susan Bisom Rapp (Thomas Jefferson), Andrew Frazer (Wollongong (AU)), and Malcolm Sargeant (Middlesex (UK)) have posted on SSRN their forthcoming article in the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Review: Decent Work, Older Workers and Vulnerability in the Economic Recession: A Comparative Study of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Here is the abstract:
In countries with aging populations, the global recession presents unique challenges for older workers, and compels an assessment of how they are faring. To this end, the International Labour Organization's concept of decent work provides a useful metric or yardstick. Decent work, a multifaceted conception, assists in revealing the interdependence of measures needed to secure human dignity across the course of working lives. With this in mind, in three English-speaking, common law countries (Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), this Article considers several decent work principles applicable to older workers and provides evaluations in light of them. Relevant to the analysis is the role workplace law plays in each country in ameliorating or exacerbating older worker vulnerability.
Although the recession affected each country to a different extent, and the response of national employers to the crisis varied significantly, the effects of the financial crisis on older workers are strikingly similar. The recession has affected the quality of work for older workers. For many, employment has become more fragile, inconstant and insecure. In all three nations, the recession also compromised older workers' ability to plan for and secure a key decent work precept, a dignified retirement.
Yet stronger national differences emerge when evaluating labor regulations affecting older workers. While all three countries prohibit age discrimination to varying degrees, such prohibitions by themselves do not greatly contribute to employment security for older workers. General labor standards, such as those restricting termination and layoff or requiring severance pay, and the provision of a robust safety net, are just as important in forestalling older worker vulnerability. By using decent work as a touchstone, and looking broadly at the intersecting factors that contribute to older worker insecurity, the outlines of needed policy reforms become clear.
The use of the decent work rubric looks to be a truly illuminating way for determining proper policy responses to help older workers impacted by the Great Recession of the last few years. Just another a great example of how comparative collaborations and papers can go a long way in helping to alleviate what ails us on the domestic labor and employment law front.