On 28 June the University of Bristol’s Law School celebrated the formal launch of its Centre for Law at Work. Supported by internationally acclaimed academics, the Centre establishes Bristol as a centre of excellence in employment and labour law, and corporate governance.
The launch celebration followed the Centre’s inaugural workshop event, Criminality at Work, the Centre’s first major scholarly project on the interface between criminal law and the regulation of work.
Debates and papers explored a range of issues, including wage theft, the criminal regulation of care work and medical practitioners, harassment, and exploitation at work, and will be published in an edited volume for Oxford University Press in 2019.
In recent years, members of the Centre have been involved in a number of high-profile activities and debates.
- Professor Michael Ford QC, played a key role in the ground-breaking judgement on tribunal fees in last year’s UNISON case, advised the Select Committee responsible for questioning Sports Direct owner, Mike Ashley, over working conditions at his company and, in April this year, gave a presentation onworkers’ rights after Brexit, at a major trade union event in Brussels
- The growing questions around the status of those working in the ‘on-demand’ economy, for businesses such as Hermes, Uber and Amazon was the subject of a BBC Inside Out investigation featuring the Centre’s co-director Professor Tonia Novitz, who responded to evidence that delivery drivers are being exploited. More recently, Professor Tonia Novitz, alongside co-director Professor Alan Bogg and Dr Katie Bales, responded to the proposed employment policy reforms of the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices
- Debating overseas scholars’ right to strike, Dr Shreya Atrey recently published an article in Times Higher Education (THE), discussing the recent industrial action surrounding pensions in the UK higher education sector and the effects of current Home Office policy regarding absence without pay on academics working in the UK on a Tier 2 visa. Meanwhile, Dr Katie Cruz marked International Sex Workers Day with a blog entitled Sex Work, Labour Unfreedom, and the Law.
Professor Mark Freedland emeritus Professor of Employment Law at the University of Oxford, commended the work of academics at the Centre for Law at Work as an “impressive line-up”: “There’s a real sense of scholarship and the depth of enthusiasm within the Centre for Law at Work.”
In the last year, the Law School has appointed additional scholars with expertise in related fields, the driver behind the set-up of the Centre as a place to fostering an interdisciplinary dialogue around legal issues related to work.
The University of Bristol’s Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, Professor Paddy Ireland, commented: “We have attracted fantastic interdisciplinary scholars who contribute to the work of the Centre for Law at Work. This will be a successful Centre.”
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