Day 2: Thursday 10th February

This paper reports initial findings from a large study undertaken with four manufacturing organisations and a manufacturing union in Australia. The overall aim of the study is to evaluate a collaborative approach to managing employee mental health. We pursue this aim using a mixed-method strategy across an 18-month period: (1) interviews with key stakeholders and a survey of employees in four manufacturing organisations at time 1 (baseline); (2) the training of managers and workforce/union reps about collaboration and the factors affecting psychosocial safety climate (PSC) and the subsequent collaborative development of workplace interventions; (3) and finally repeating interviews and surveys of employees at time 2 to gauge any change in collaboration and in the PSC at the organisations. Given the very early stage of the research, this paper falls into three main sections. The first defines more clearly key concepts and how they can be measured. The second explores the existing literature to explain why we expect to find that greater collaboration will improve the PSC at each organisation. The third provides baseline preliminary empirical findings, based on interviews and the results of the first survey, about the state of collaboration on mental health in the partner organisations. The key message of this paper is that a collaborative approach is currently rare in Australian manufacturing organisations and genuinely collaborative efforts by managers and unions working together have great potential to produce better mental health outcomes.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown measures, quarantines, school and workplace closures disrupted work and family life. Household members had to account for new constraints in the allocation of hours and responsibilities related to work, domestic and care tasks. These changes, compounded with unequal intra-household division of additional labor (Del Boca et al. 2021), are likely to affect the mental health of workers having to juggle too many things. Using online survey data collected at the onset of the pandemic in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, this paper looks at the relationship between the increase of unpaid domestic and care work (UDCW) and mental health of formal workers. We implement interaction variables regressions, allowing us to account for gender and country-specific trends. Our results show that an increase in UDCW is positively correlated to the deterioration of mental health. Gender interactions show that the detrimental effect of extra unpaid labor on mental health is significantly higher for women. Country interactions show that this relationship is generally less strong in the Philippines than in Indonesia and Vietnam. Vietnamese women suffer the most from this detrimental effect. Overall, our results suggest that at the onset of the pandemic there was no equalization of domestic and care responsibilities since men and women (who had higher pre-pandemic levels) both experienced increases. Moreover, the increase in tasks related to the pandemic affected male and female workers, mental health (more so for women), potentially diminishing their wellbeing and productivity.

The rise in mental health and the threat of the Great Resignation due to the COVID pandemic has refocussed attention on the decades-long increase in work intensification. The growing pressure on employees has sparked a variety of literatures looking at work-life balance, flexible work-arrangements, work intensity and intensification and the origins and management of workplace-related stress. The broad literature, at least in the OB and HRM fields, has sought solutions through family-friendly and work-flexibility arrangements, and the cultivation of workplace-based forms of social support. This paper extends the largely over-looked findings of community and health psychologists of the 1980s to the workplace: that social support outside the workplace can help the employee in coping with the mounting stresses of the workplace. Drawing on earlier research, Hobfoll’s (1989) conservation of resources theory and HILDA data, we will demonstrate that social support can reduce the negative effects of employee work-life conflict on employee stress. This effect is nuanced, however. Some forms of social support (such as size of social network) only have a direct effect. Others (such as availability of resources within a social network) have a moderated effect. The findings of this paper provide a quantifiable justification for work-flexibility arrangements and employer-sponsored employee involvement in corporate community involvement, and thus, is of interest to managements, employees, unions, employer associations regulators and governments.

The road transport industry has long experienced high rates of contractor work (‘owner-drivers’) and has been characterised by low pay, incentives to drive fast and skip breaks, fatigue, drug/stimulant use, overloading, long working hours, poor safety, high debt and insolvencies. In recent years two models of regulation of road transport have gained attention: the short-lived Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, in the federal jurisdiction, and, in the NSW jurisdiction, the long-lived (and still surviving) Chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act. The latter is a form of piece-rate regulation, the former is a hybrid of time- and piece-rate regulation. This paper compares and contrasts the two but focuses on the latter in particular, examining: the motivation for its introduction; the actors and institutions involved, including the NSW Industrial Commission (NSWIC); the policy content (how the NSWIC regulates minimum standards and plays other roles in the industry); the impact of this regulation, in particular on safety (through quantitative analysis of road death statistics over three decades). It concludes with consideration of the theoretical implications of these experiments for the concept of ‘directed devolution’ and the potential practical implications for the regulation of the platform or ‘gig economy,’ for example of independent courier drivers and riders.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of consumers in shaping the labour process and work. To date, this attention has focused on employment in traditional settings. The rise of the gig economy, however, has introduced new business models that alter the power relations between organisations, workers and consumers in ways that are yet to be thoroughly examined and theorised. In this paper, we advance understanding of the multiple roles that consumers play in the gig economy: as market participants, managerial agents, and quasi-regulators of working conditions. We argue that the precarious circumstances of gig workers, who are not employed by but contracted to platforms, create unique opportunities for consumers to directly influence working conditions. Our contribution demonstrates the growing importance of the relationship between platform companies and consumers, and its consequences both for workers‚ experiences and the role of the state in regulating working conditions in the gig economy. We identify avenues for further developing these themes within debates about platform capitalism, employment relations, ethical consumption, and the future of work.

This paper uses the concepts of horizontal and vertical governance to explain why governments became the primary targets for producer-country union action during the COVID-19 pandemic in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Myanmar, and what this choice means for our understanding of labor governance within global supply chains. Given that many of the challenges faced by suppliers in 2020 stemmed from order cancellations or problems accessing inputs, it would be logical to presume that unions would turn to the brands in their attempts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on their members. Instead, they targeted their own governments, all of which have a reputation for being either ambivalent or outright hostile to independent union representation. In contrast to most studies of labor agency in global supply chains‚ which focus either on a single country and/or a single actor, this paper uses a comparative study approach. As it demonstrates, union engagement and action directed at the state intensified as the brands retreated. However, there was, we argue, a broad continuity with unions‚ pre-pandemic strategies in seeking to shape state policy and labor institutions. As such, our analysis confirms (a) that the state’s unique positionality and authority gives it unparalleled power to influence worker welfare even in industries that are highly integrated into global supply chains and (b) that the state‚ labor nexus within global supply chains is both more pronounced and potentially more enabling than scholarship suggests.

This paper takes stock of the effects of the Covid pandemic on vulnerable workers, with a focus on the cleaning sector, and reviews state and federal government responses over 2020. As buildings and offices shutdown across Australia, many cleaning workers lost their work or were stood down. Other workers, who clean buildings that remained open, were at the frontline of the response to the pandemic and expected to increase the extent and quality of cleaning. In this paper we ask what can be learned from the pandemic about how to increase the resilience of sectors, such as commercial cleaning, which are highly casualised and insecure. We draw on a wide range of data not yet been reported on in the academic literature, including from Senate Committees, the Fair Work Ombudsman, the Cleaning Accountability Framework, the United Workers Union, and stakeholder interviews. Our analysis is grounded in theories of resilience in feminist literature and theories of reliance in supply chain management literature. These theories together provide a framework for understanding how these vulnerable workers can be made more resilient to the type of economic shock and exposure to health and safety risks of the nature seen during the pandemic. We argue that, in order to be effective, government responses must take into account value chain dynamics that have been found to contribute to egregious working conditions and must put in place adequate measures to assist workers to prepare for the shocks of pandemics and other such events in future.

COVID-19 hit the hospitality sector first and the hardest. Many workers initially failed to receive welfare support; businesses have laid off staff, closed, or swiftly adjusted their business models. It has been argued (e.g. Baum et al., 2020) that the consequences of the pandemic for the hospitality workforce represent an amplification of existing known challenges experienced by workers in this sector, defined by job insecurity, high turnover, wage non-compliance, low unionisation, overrepresentation of vulnerable workers, and increasing digitalisation, including the prevalence of gig work (Clibborn & Wright, 2018). Drawing on preliminary findings from an exploratory, multi-stakeholder study involving 28 interviews with hospitality workers, management, business owners and industry informants, this study interrogates the challenges and opportunities brought on by the pandemic for workers and business in the Australian hospitality sector, including the immediate impact and implications during the recovery phase. The study offers a reflexive account of worker and business perspectives operating in the hospitality sector, namely cafes, restaurants and pubs/clubs, from the beginning of the pandemic (March 2020) to the more recent protracted lockdowns experienced in some states. Key findings consider how work and management practices changed, including how businesses adapted their operating models and digital offerings, the effectiveness of welfare support received, impacts on health and wellbeing, and changes around worker/management relations. The study offers important insights for policy and practice as the sector begins recovery, particularly around attitudes to employment, retention and future business practices, as well as theoretical insights related to workers’ experience.

In April 2020, the ILO declared the COVID pandemic, the worst global crisis since the Second World War. At the height of lockdowns aimed at curtailing spread, many employees could alter their work movement patterns, avoiding potential exposure to a disease whose risk factors and mortality odds were not well understood. But concurrent with these restrictions, researchers found that US ethnic minorities suffered from greater COVID exposure risk than their white counterparts. In this study, we first consider the disparities facing US Black and Latinx workers that have been illuminated during the pandemic. We then argue that minorities may have been more likely to feel pressure to travel to work during the period of near-universal lockdowns given socioeconomic circumstances. We further argue there may be structural and psychological explanations for ethnic work mobility differences. Finally, we posit that institutions (namely, trade unions) may moderate minority-nonminority work mobility differences. We empirically examine these arguments using US county-level Google Mobility Data collected from February-April 2020. Google tracked aggregate movement changes to work and non-work locations, and we link these data to ethnicity measures and county-level union density, plus socioeconomic, political, and demographic information. Preliminary regression analysis reveals differences in work mobility changes between minority and non-minority workers, with few ethnicity effects on non-work mobility changes. This supports our argument that the pandemic uniquely placed US ethnic minority workers at risk. The results imply unequal work impositions on minorities during crises, which may contribute to greater infection and mortality rates among these groups.

This session that reports on a large-scale qualitative project conducted during 2021. The project is funded by the Covid-19 Equity Response Community Action Grant: Health Research Council Funding HRC Reference: 20/1383. Community support workers' wellbeing in New Zealand continues to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 policy and practice response, which is often ignorant of the nature of community support work. Despite support workers and their unions' efforts to have their voice heard, and their wellbeing protected, their concerns remain largely overlooked by managers and policy makers alike. This project documents the experiences of, and actions taken by, these workers to protect their own wellbeing, and that of their clients, during the COVID-19 response. The project used a community based participatory framework within which support workers were participant researchers who interviewed other support workers. This session starts by addressing the ethical and methodological issues of working with essential workers during a crisis. The two following papers then present new findings on unions and wellbeing, concluding with practitioner perspectives from the research project partners.

What can unions do in a period of global wage stagnation and declining unionisation rates? One response is to advocate for a bold new form of workplace leave. In 2020 the Victorian Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) began this process, developing an innovative claim for reproductive health and wellbeing leave, covering a range of reproductive health concerns and interventions for all genders. The paper draws on policy documents, media reporting and interview data from key union informants conducted in real time during the negotiations to examine the drivers and outcomes of the reproductive leave claim. Equality bargaining theory (Williamson and Baird, 2014 ) is applied to evaluate the process and its outcomes. In this framework four factors are identified as critical to bargaining success: 1. the external environment; 2. characteristics of the organisations; 3. The nature of the bargaining relationship; 4. the gender of negotiators. In analysing the process, which resulted in scaled back outcomes, we argue that a feminist materialist lens (Baird, Hill and Colussi 2021) is necessary to reclaim the body at work. While recognising that‚ all work is gendered, and all work is embodied (Morgan, Brandth and Kvande 2016, p1), we show that in practice this is not applied equally. Set within the turbulent context of COVID-19, demographic, social and economic change, this study provides much needed insight into what unions might achieve for and with their members, and how unions might best represent all their members in the context of changing gender relations and assumptions.

Digitisation, automation and new business models are set to transform the legal profession in Australia. Commentators point to contract automation, e-discovery and cloud-based practice management. They also foreshadow artificial intelligence will predict case outcomes, guide settlement and‚ augment lawyers' cognitive abilities. It is not yet clear how this evolution will affect persistent gender inequality in the law. Men dominate the most lucrative segments and highest echelons of the profession in Australia and continue to outpace women in average earnings. The COVID-19 pandemic is a pressure not foreshadowed by law futurists, but likely to catalyse technological change. Facing a shifting landscape, business, law firms and lawyers are told they must adapt. In the wake of these shifts, what makes a successful lawyer today, and what are the skills required for the future of work in the profession? This paper examines perceptions of how lawyers will need to adapt their skills to be valued in the future. Drawing on interviews with senior legal representatives and a survey of almost 800 solicitors in NSW, the paper shares preliminary findings from our project Designing Gender Equality into the Future of Work. Applying a gendered lens to perceptions of what makes a successful lawyer today and the skills required for the future, this paper considers the implications of narratives such as professionalism, empathy, total commitment and technology for gender equality in the law.

In 2019 a landmark international convention to eliminate workplace violence and harassment drew attention to the pressing and global issue of gender-based violence at work. The convention is wide-reaching and progressive, covering all sectors, countries, contract types, locations of work and their connection to the household, and forms of violence. Yet scholarly analysis of why violence occurs at work and what forms it takes, particularly in contexts other than Europe, America and Australia, remains limited. Most studies focus on formalised and professional sectors, sexualised violence, and narrow definitions of the workplace. Moreover, these studies are conducted in contexts where workplaces and work are highly regulated, and there is a division (in theory at least) between the spaces of family and work. In this paper we argue that a broader conceptualisation of both work and violence is required to enhance the effectiveness of interventions to address gendered violence at work. To do so we draw on interviews with workers, unionists and labour movement organisations in Cambodia’s construction and garment manufacturing sectors. We identify the varied forms of workplace violence encountered by women, and some men, in both sectors and examine how the intersection of dynamics at and beyond work leads to such violence. Our analysis illustrates that the forms and drivers of gendered workplace violence are contextually varied, thus signalling the need for interventions that respond to these diversities.

Since 1969, federal equal remuneration provisions have been peripatetic in nature. The institutional arrangements through which women claim equal remuneration for work of equal value have been simultaneously highly contested and underutilised, and very few equal remuneration orders (or their equivalent) have been issued. The Fair Work Commission's recent decision in proceedings in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector has underlined the complexity and uncertainty of national equal remuneration regulation. In these proceedings, in progress for six years, the Commission rejected an application for an equal remuneration order under Part 2-7 of the Fair Work Act, while supporting an application to vary the Education Services (Teachers) Award on work value grounds. The Commission determined that the value of the performed by early childhood teachers was not fully recognised by the minimum rates in the Award. While this decision potentially signals a renewed capacity for work value to be utilised in support of gender pay equity, this development also needs to be viewed against the question of whether there is a sustainable capacity for Australian labour law to support an equal remuneration objective in Australian labour law. Most recently the Commission has found the objective more easily addressed if it can be reduced to equal remuneration for women and men undertaking similar or identical work. This interpretation fails to address divisions of labour across paid and unpaid labour markets, and the complex relation between gender, work value and wages. In this paper, we analyse what the ECEC decision.

Despite prior use of, limitations and challenges associated with flexible work arrangements, since the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has been thrusted into the limelight with it becoming a necessity globally. The scale of remote work uptake is unlikely to see massive decreases into the future especially since organisations have been forced to invest in business continuity measures, whilst workers garner a multitude of benefits from the flexibility that remote work affords. In comparison to its relevance, large scale remote work arrangements have an insufficient foundation of research to fully understand the impact on workers across a range of work dimensions. This study examines four key dimensions associated with remote work: changes to work demand, the drivers of work demand, the health impact and organisational self-regulation. The study uses an integrative social constructivist approach based on responses by employment relations actors and institutions. This paper reports on the initial phase of the data obtained from worker interviews across three sectors: public, private and not for profit. The key findings indicate that remote work increases work demand with the main drivers being organisational culture, technology ubiquity and porous boundaries. This phase of the study’s findings has both national and organization specific policy implications that address work demand contributing to work availability creep, decreasing mental health, an erosion of boundaries between work and non-work life and the infancy of organisational knowledge to self-regulate remote work arrangements.

In response to COVID-19, the Australian government imposed strict border measures confining mobility to Australian citizens, permanent resident or those in an exempt category. Notwithstanding, a significant number of temporary labour migrants remained. We ask, how did COVID-19 influence the experience of work of temporary labour migrants in Australia? We analysed 71 newspaper articles (1st Jan - 30th June 2020), from ABC News website plus FACTIVA (top-8 newspapers in Australia) to identify key themes and 10 in-depth semi-structured interviews with policy makers, employers, industry associations, a union representative, voluntary groups‚ representatives for migrants, temporary labour migrants and international students were analysed using NVivo. We draw on Oliver’s (2018) conceptualisation of governmentality-effected neglect in immigration practice with Giralt and Sarlo’s use of Sainsbury’s (2006) interpretation of immigrants’ social rights. We found: Precarity (e.g., in employment, income, impact of changing regulation during COVID); Risks (existing risks, new risks, how regulation is shaping risks); Social citizenship (e.g., social protection, welfare, health, rights); Strengthening of migrants' voice (role of migrant organisations, support).

The research question is: Does the Australian regulatory system adequately prevent modern slavery and exploitative abuses by employers, or has it tackled the contemporary issue of modern slavery by requiring mere reporting without any teeth? The modern slavery legislation at Commonwealth level, based on approach of legislation in the United Kingdom, imposes reporting requirements on certain employers about modern slavery risks in their business and supply chains and steps they are taking to deal with the risks. There has also been (ineffectual) legislative activity in New South Wales in respect of modern slavery. Against the backdrop of (a) on-going evidence of modern slavery occurring in Australia today and (b) the regulation of employers' exploitative wage and employment practices in the enforcement and compliance mechanisms under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), the paper explores the purpose, scope and effect of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) (and counterpart recent legislative activity in NSW). It identifies the recent company reports on modern slavery made pursuant to the Modern Slavery Act and the implications of these reports; and it critiques the efficacy of the legislation in reducing and exposing modern slavery practices. It argues that the 'mountain' of contemporary modern slavery practices in employment, often hidden, is being tackled by completely inadequate measures, which have the effect of seeming to reduce the modern slavery problem to the size of a 'molehill'. The paper advocates for law reform and strengthened anti-slavery provisions.

In recent years, leaders in policy, research, governments and international institutions including the OECD and IMF have identified wide macroeconomic and social consequences from retrenchment of collective bargaining systems in Anglo-Saxon industrial countries. These include slowing wages growth, rising insecure work, inequality, and declining productivity and growth. Empirically, co-ordinated or sectoral bargaining systems more prevalent across Nordic and European jurisdictions are found to produce better labour market outcomes than fully decentralised bargaining. The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted an enormous shock to global labour markets, with unprecedented fiscal efforts by governments to protect employment relationships and incomes. With traditional expectations of any inherent wages-GDP growth linkage having already unwound pre-COVID, labour market institutions for inclusive growth have returned centre stage. Hosted by the Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work, this panel explores how sectoral bargaining systems can be designed and implemented in the Anglophone world from the present, largely decentralised systems. The panel offers a unique representation of speakers across unions, policy, and academia from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.

In November 2021, the NZ parliament passed the Covid-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Act 2021 in two days, which included the capacity to terminate employment on the grounds of vaccination status. This is an unprecedented amendment to Employment Relations Act 2000, which hitherto contained no prescription for the means and reasons for fair termination of ongoing employment. Is this a revolution of direct state intervention in employment, an emergency and temporary measure, or an evolution towards a more directive role for the NZ state?

Shivashni will speak about the impact of COVID-19 on health and safety in the workplace, along with potential responses to emerging pandemic issues.

The provision of decent work in the New Zealand hospitality sector has remained a long-term challenge, with longstanding employment relations issues including low pay, poor conditions, skills shortages, higher than average rates of casualisation and harassment and labour turnover rates of up to 40% (Williamson and Harris, 2019). Covid induced level four lockdown has placed extreme pressure on hospitality organisations, leading to an industry- wide existential crisis, with large scale closures and re-structuring underway. This in turn has prompted a public debate on what is required to build a sustainable hospitality industry post-Covid. However, that public debate is mostly focused on a ‘presentist’ view that rarely places the current ‘crisis’ in any historical context and rarely uses empirical data. I will present early quantitative and qualitative findings from a survey into the working conditions of 400 New Zealand hospitality workers and discuss the implications of the current ‘crisis’ and opportunities for a re-appraisal of long-term employment issues in the New Zealand hospitality sector.

Williamson, D., & Harris, C. (2019). Talent management and unions: The impact of the New Zealand hotel workers union on talent management in hotels (1950-1995). International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

Since 2020, some significant reform has occurred in the New Zealand employment relations sphere, primarily as a result of the global pandemic. Responses have included wage supplements, business support, decreased standdowns for income support entitlements, as well as massive spending to keep the wider economy afloat. These mechanisms have not been inconsequential, and a return to a pre-COVID employment environment is not anticipated for years. Given that there is “no return to normal”, what employment relations changes will be embedded, and which are ripe for reform?

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc in economies worldwide, resulting in lockdown measures in the Philippines for an extended period. This urged private companies and government institutions to transition to strategic work-from-home (WFH) set-ups as a business continuity intervention to ensure employment and safety at work during the pandemic. This study describes the typical situation of teleworkers in the Philippines through the following dimensions (1) technology, (2) WFH frequency, (3) physical work area, (4) social situation, and (5) amenability to WFH. Using a piloted, self-constructed questionnaire, an online exploratory survey was conducted to 363 WFH respondents based in Metro Manila. Results showed that teleworkers have robust technology and use various applications for information dissemination. In terms of WFH frequency, the most common schedule in descending order is five times a week, daily, and twice a week schedule. When it comes to the physical work area, the most common WFH set-up is in the bedroom then in the living room since many live in relatively small houses. In a social context, none of them live alone in their houses. More than half live with 2-4 persons, followed by 5-7 persons, and those living with only one person in the house. Moreover, most of them do not live with in-laws, do not live with a senior citizen, and only a few live in a dwelling with a household helper. In general, teleworkers are amenable to the WFH set-up, especially those without child or elderly responsibility.

New Zealand is a relatively low wage economy, dominated by commodity exports and, until recently, tourism (OECD, 2019). However, living costs are high, with housing alone absorbing 45% income for bottom quintile households (Perry, 2019). In this context, the Living Wage (LW) has gained traction to support households as well as attract labour given recent Covid restrictions on migrant workers. According to orthodox economics, paying above market clearing wages is uncompetitive and will lead to job losses and/or work intensification (Leonard, 2000). However, other theories suggest that low pay reflects unequal bargaining power (Arrowsmith et al, 2003). Concepts such as efficiency wages and insights from motivational psychology and social exchange theory suggest that higher pay could deliver offsetting returns in the longer term (Card and Krueger, 1995). However, little is known about employer attitudes to and experiences of the LW, particularly in low-pay sectors (Werner and Lim, 2016). This paper responds to this gap by presenting results of a survey of New Zealand employers conducted through Qualtrics in June 2021. It explores attitudes to the Living Wage, including motivations and perceived effects where applied or rationales where not. This is linked to implications of recent minimum wage increases (a hike of 17.5% in the past three years) and the differential business consequences of Covid. Responses were received from over 400 organisations across a range of sectors and size.

The closures and restrictions imposed at workplaces around Australia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have raised unprecedented issues for trade unions seeking to exercise rights of entry in accordance with Part 3/4 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Section 491 requires that union officials seeking to exercise a statutory right of entry comply with any reasonable request by an occupier about an occupational health and safety requirement that applies to the premises. This had led to disputes about the appropriateness of requirements imposed by employers to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission. This paper will discuss three recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) decisions which consider the reasonableness of requests limiting entry to premises in this context. Although the cases had different outcomes, the FWC’s findings demonstrate how an employer’s OHS obligations relating to COVID-19 will be weighed against the objects of Part 3/4. Overall the FWC has taken a practical and nuanced approach to such disputes, and expected some cooperation between employers and unions. The limited scope of these decisions does, however, leave some questions relating to rights of entry during the pandemic unanswered.

A feature of labour markets in recent years has been the growth of private, voluntary regulation. Standards, codes, and norms of good practice have been formulated by private actors and promoted to employers with the purpose of spreading decent work. In this paper, the UK’s voluntary Living Wage is used to examine the impact of COVID-19 on private regulation. The purpose of the paper is to establish whether the pandemic has negatively impacted private regulation, causing employers to abandon schemes like the Living Wage, or whether it has stimulated interest by focusing the attention of employers on the needs of ‘key workers’. The paper draws upon three bodies of research: 1) qualitative research into campaign activity during the pandemic based on observation and interviews; 2) a dataset of all 11,000 employers accredited under the scheme since 2011; 3) a population survey of currently accredited employers carried out in 2021, which obtained 1600 responses (22 per cent). Its main substantive findings are that: 1) the campaign was sustained throughout the crisis, relying upon virtual methods to press public authorities to guarantee the Living Wage for ‘key workers’; 2) levels of accreditation amongst employers were also sustained during the crisis though with a switch in recruitment from consumer to service industries providing key services; 3) a majority of accredited employers were adversely affected by COVID-19 but support for the Living Wage remains high.

Digital technology in Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings has been of increasing interest over the last decade, as a range of new technologies have emerged, particularly interactive educational programs. However, there is notably less research on digital technology in relation to the work of early childhood educators within these prior-to-school settings. This exploratory study involved a series of interviews with nine early childhood teachers based in NSW centre-based services, investigating how these teachers describe the nature and quantity of their workload. These qualitative interviews emerged from the findings of an international systematic review on the work of early childhood educators, which revealed a small number of studies on digital technology in relation to educator work. Nonetheless, the significance of digital technology in the participant teachers’ accounts of their work was unprompted and unexpected, with 8 out of 9 participants raising digital technology as a notable aspect of their workload. Here, the findings are thematically analysed from a labour process theory perspective, with particular reference to the deskilling hypothesis. Key findings relating to the digitisation of teacher work in ECEC settings include: (1) increases and shifts in workload, with some teachers reporting an inability to switch off and, or, distraction from engagement with children; and (2) a lack of support to develop skills required to navigate new technologies. This small sample exploratory study indicates the need for further research into, and evidence-based policy supporting, the roles and associated effects of increasing digital technologies in ECEC work.

The gig economy has emerged over the past decade driven by developments in technology and a business model that allows for commodification and globalisation of labour, intermediation in the labour process, and the elimination of the traditional workplace. In SSA the gig economy offers the possibility of additional jobs, and access to global and comparatively well-paid work. However, it also encompasses conditions of work that are potentially insecure, exploitative, and poorly paid. In SSA is the online (gig) economy a source of income and formalisation of labour conditions, or is a form of neo-colonisation, slavery and digital sweatshops? Borrowing from modifications to the ILO Decent Work Agenda to accommodate gig work within an emerging economy context the paper suggests a policy framework for evaluating the quality of gig work in SSA. The study draws on secondary data sources, including government and NGO reports, to develop a framework for assessing the quality of gig work. The paper discusses the potential forms of regulation and standards that apply to the gig economy. Gig work will continue to grow through platforms that offer both remote online work and those that offer physical work such as transport services and home/personal services. Through its relative newness and its ambiguity relative to existing labour regulations gig work easily fits into the context of SSA with its large informal economy and limited labour regulation. There is potential to pressure platforms towards implementing decent work conditions into gig contracts.

This study examines how the gig economy in Australia intersects with the social security system. Focussing on ride-share driving as one variant of gig work, we explore the motivations of three traditionally marginalised groups of workers’ those with disabilities, caring responsibilities, and aged 45 and over, for undertaking this type of work. We evaluate their experiences with the work itself, broader labour market experiences, as well as interactions with the social security system. This mixed-method study is based on an initial screening survey (n=139) and 59 in-depth qualitative interviews with ride-share drivers working on a leading ride-share driving platform. We further conducted an in-depth policy analysis of Australia’s social security system. The study highlights the important social meaning of work (Budd 2011) for these workers, with the gig economy functioning as an important and one of the few available pathways into paid work. While not without challenges or areas of improvement, the relatively low entry barriers and flexibility of rideshare driving were highly valued by these individuals. The research further raises novel insights for both policy making and theoretical debates about the regulation of gig work, its position within existing labour market structures, and its interaction and intersection with the welfare state. It is, for instance, identified that the configuration of Australia’s social security system is influencing, and at times constraining, their levels of participation in this type of gig work.

AIRAANZ 2021 Special Session
The Future of Work, Job Quality and Marginalised Workers

Dimitria Groutsis and Gaby Ramia

Panel of presenters in order (5 minutes each, abstracts further down)

  • Rae Cooper, Meraiah Foley, Briony Lipton and Ariadne Vromen
  • Kate Huppatz
  • Elizabeth Hill and Suneha Seetahul
  • Dimitria Groutsis and Annika Kaabel
  • Nareen Young and Jane O’Leary
  • Mihajla Gavin, Linda Steele, Simon Darcy and Kathryn Johns
  • Lisa Perrone and Jasmin Perrone
  • Gaby Ramia

This Special Session investigates the future of work in worker-centred terms, focusing on job quality and decent work among traditionally marginalised workers The session invites qualitative and quantitative research focusing on the employment experiences of worker groups who traditionally face barriers to employment and suffer disadvantage at work. They include: Indigenous people; women who are mothers of pre-school age children; people with disabilities; migrant and refugee community members; and culturally diverse workers.

Research across disciplines shows that the quality of people’s experiences at work plays a key role in wellbeing, both economically and socially. Decent and satisfying work has a value of its own, and it connects with broader social and economic inclusion. Stable workplace relationships depend on workers having opportunities to engage with satisfying and rewarding working opportunities underscored by respect, voice and recognition (Honneth, 2014; ILO, 1999).

Job quality has attracted significant attention in the scholarly literature, especially in the post global financial crisis context and in light of debates over the future of work. Research has focused on how workplaces promote values such as justice, pride, and care and respect, especially in terms of how work and jobs are designed (Kalleberg, 2011; Yeoman, 2020), and how needs and preferences differ across workforce groups and at different stages of the life course (Hill, Baird, Vromen, Cooper, Meers and Probyn, 2019).

The quality of work has been found, across multiple international studies, to be correlated to positive individual outcomes such as job satisfaction, life satisfaction, and general health and wellbeing. It also correlates to the positive organisational outcomes of higher work engagement, employee commitment and lower quit rates (Allan, Bataz-Barbarich and Tay, 2019). Research evidence also suggests many people are disillusioned with paid work, despite its financial necessity (Perrone, Vickers and Jackson, 2015; see also Veltman, 2015).

In considering the future research agenda, Duffy et al. (2020) surmise that research is needed to identify what constitutes decent work in particular cultural and social contexts.This is made more urgent given the well-documented degradation of work quality through casualisation, growing job insecurity (Fleming, Rhodes and Yu, 2019) and new forms of precarious work (Harvey, Rhodes, Vachhani and Williams, 2017). Further, research must account for how COVID-19 has had a disproportionately negative effect on traditionally marginalised workforce groups (Sprague, Raub and Heymannm, 2020; Cooper and Mosseri, 2020).

The Special Session addresses questions which include but are not limited to:

  1. What are the characteristics of the jobs that need to be created for the future, to ensure decent work for all?
  2. How do these features vary for people who belong to employee groups that have traditionally been marginalised from the labour force and work?
  3. What policy initiatives can be developed to enable job creation, to create decent work for all groups of workers?
  4. How should we as researchers understand the status and the differential opportunities afforded people who enter and leave the labour-force with regularity, and who combine reliance on employment and the welfare state?
  5. What role can various institutional stakeholders play in ensuring decent work for marginalised workers in the post Covid world (including, government, non-government, unions, professional associations and community groups)


  • Cooper, R and Mosseri, S. (2020). ‘Women Workers’ in Plibersek, P. (ed) Upturn: A better normal after COVID-19, Sydney: UNSW Press.
  • Deterding, N. M., & Waters, M. C. (2018) Flexible coding of in-depth interviews: A twenty-first-century approach. Sociological methods & research, doi: 10.1177/0049124118799377
  • Duffy, R. D., Blustein, D. L., Allan, B. A., Diemer, M. A., and Cinamon, R. G. (2020) A cross-cultural exploration of decent work, Journal of Vocational Behavior, doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2019.103351
  • Fleming, P., Rhodes, C., & Yu, K. H. (2019). On why Uber has not taken over the world. Economy and Society, 48(4), 488-509.
  • Gray, M., Hunter, B., and Lohoar, S. (2020). Increasing Indigenous employment rates, Issues paper no. 3 produced for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies
  • Harvey, G., Rhodes, C., Vachhani, S. J., & Williams, K. (2017). Neo-villeiny and the service sector: the case of hyper flexible and precarious work in fitness centres. Work, employment and society, 31(1), 19-35.
  • Hill, E., Baird, M., Vromen, A., Cooper, R., Meers, Z., & Probyn, E. (2019). Young women and men: Imagined futures of work and family formation in Australia. Journal of Sociology, 55(4), 778-798.
  • Honneth, A. (2014). Freedom's Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life, New York: Columbia University Press. ILO (1999). Report of the Director-General: Decent work. International Labour Conference, 87th Session, Geneva.
  • Kalleberg, A. L. (2011). Good jobs, bad jobs: The rise of polarized and precarious employment systems in the United States, 1970s-2000s. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Perrone, L., Vickers, M. H., & Jackson, D. (2015). Financial independence as an alternative to work. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 27(3), 195-211.
  • Sprague, A., Raub, A., and Heymann, J. (2020). Providing a foundation for decent work and adequate income during health and economic crises: constitutional approaches in 193 countries. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 40(9/10): 1087-1105.
  • Veltman, A. (2015). Is meaningful work available to all people?. Philosophy & Social Criticism, 41(7), 725-747. Yeoman, R. (2020). Ethics, Meaningfulness, and Mutuality, London: Routledge.


Designing gender equality into the future of work: In high and low pay sectors
Rae Cooper, Meraiah Foley, Briony Lipton, Ariadne Vromen

What is the ‘big problem’? Gender-based inequality remains a significant challenge across sectors, occupations, industries, and professions. Despite high levels of education and strong interest in forging meaningful careers, Australian women continue to face gaps in pay and respect, in accessing good jobs and as they attempt to forge rewarding careers. This paper briefly reports on a study of worker experiences and perceptions of gender equality in sectors at the opposite ends of the labour market – retail and the law. Where are we in terms of research and knowledge? The ‘future of work’ debate has largely focussed on very male-dominated sectors like transport and engineering and has often privileged studies of technology and work platforms over the experiences and attitudes of workers about their own futures With some exceptions, few studies have approached the future of work though a gender lens. What are the implications for the future of work? This research takes an explicitly employee centric approach to the future of work, framing this future in terms of what employees say they are seeking from work and career development and how they see themselves getting there What is the next stage in the research? Women employees need to be placed at the centre of the analysis and their interests, opinions, ambitions, and constraints taken into account as the future of work is constructed in order to avoid designing further inequalities into work and careers in the future of work.

The role of organisational cultures in producing gendered career trajectories: Case studies from defence and academia
Kate Huppatz

What is the ‘big problem’? Women continue to experience challenges in developing their careers and pursuing progression across a broad range of sectors. This paper briefly unpacks the role of organisational cultures in the marginalisation of women workers. Drawing on research on gendered career trajectories with academics and defence employees, this presentation reflects on the role of cultural practice and systems of value and meaning in producing gender inequities in workplaces. Where are we in terms of research and knowledge? Despite decades of research, gender segregation and discrimination at work are entrenched. Organisational cultures have been connected to this entrenchment, and often blamed for the ineffectiveness of gender equality policy and initiatives, and yet the significance of organisational cultures needs to be better understood and theorised What are the implications for the future of work? Career trajectories will continue to be highly gendered unless there are research-led interventions into workplace cultures. What is the next stage in the research? Work and employment scholarship needs to take seriously the limitations that women continue to experience at work, and to pose theoretically informed, localised solutions to their marginalisation, that consider experiences of cultural practice.

Subjective well-being at work, expectations for the future and discrimination: An intersectional analysis of migration and gender in the Australian workforce
Elizabeth Hill and Suneha Seetahul

What is the ‘big problem’? While there is a rich evidence-base on the causes and experience of gender-based inequalities at work, there is very little knowledge about how country-of-birth status interacts with gender to affect well-being at work With more than one in three members of the Australian workforce born overseas, and government support for skilled migration a key to the COVID recovery, the need for intersectional analysis of the Australian labour market has become urgent. Where are we in terms of research and knowledge? The ‘future of work’ debate in Australia has not yet focused closely on the dynamics of key intersectional inequalities in workplaces and labour markets more broadly. Literature on migrant workers is only sometimes disaggregated by gender, and gender analysis of work rarely includes migration status. Using survey and qualitative data, this research takes an intersectional approach to the experience of well-being at work and studies the impact of gender and migration on young workers’ subjective well-being at work, attitudes to the future of work and risk of discrimination and harassment. What are the implications for the future of work? Understanding how migration status interacts with gender in the workplace to affect wellbeing provides a critical and nuanced knowledge on how migration shapes young women and young men’s attitudes to and aspirations for the future of work, and where workplace policy might support equality. What is the next stage in the research? Deeper intersectional analysis of gender and migration status centred on the experience, aspirations and obstacles young workers face in building successful futures at work will provide critical data that can be used by workplaces and policy makers to enhance productivity and build diverse and safe workplaces for all.

An integrated framework for a refugee centred approach to ‘meaningful work’: Reimagining refugee labour market policies
Dimitria Groutsis and Annika Kaabel

What is the ‘big problem’? The notion of refugees as a viable source of labour has rarely been the dominant discourse on newly arrived refugees. As a consequence of this framing, refugees are pitched, politically constructed, and some would argue stigmatised, as a homogenous group of welfare-dependent, low skilled individuals. Industrial relations scholarship has rarely given voice to refugee workers. We address this by presenting findings from in depth interviews with more than 200 refugee families (annually for three years) coupled with some 2000 survey responses. In addition we conducted 30 interviews with key stakeholders. Where are we in terms of research and knowledge? Migration, social policy and industrial relations literature largely focuses on what is missing in the refugee’s human capital – skills, qualifications, experience and prior learning. Threading together the role of various stakeholder voices and the listening to the refugees themselves provides fresh insights on how we define human capital and what is meaningful work for newly arrived refugees. What are the implications for the future of work? To date, we take a very narrow view of human capital and ‘meaningful’ work for groups such as refugees. We challenge this notion by placing the refugee’s voice at the centre of our analysis and examining the stakeholder position through this lens highlighting the importance of an integrated framework to refugee employment. What is the next stage in the research? Refugees need to be placed at the centre of the analysis and consulted when understanding the decisions they make and the outcomes that determine their labour market pathway in the destination country. Understanding the gaps and traps in policy and practice through the voice of refugees is key to capitalising on the experience, skills and abilities of refugees while also creating policies that meaningfully benefit them.

A self-determined approach to understanding Indigenous experiences at work: Gari Yala- ‘Speak the Truth’
Nareen Young and Jane O’Leary

What is the ‘big problem’? Prior to the Gari Yala survey, no nation-wide survey had been conducted to ask Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people about their experiences at work. Through this project we have the opportunity to build knowledge of the cultural load experienced by Indigenous people, the identity strain experienced by indigenous people and the impact of racism and bias which will be impactful and interesting to scholars, employers, government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities Where are we in terms of research and knowledge? Gari Yala was the first of its kind, interviewing over 1,000 Indigenous people across Australia. In 2021, the dataset was examined through a gendered lens, providing unique insights into the intersectionality of gender and Indigeneity. What are the implications for the future of work? Gari Yala is a unique and comprehensive data set regarding Indigenous experiences of work across the country and therefore baselines all future work. The report highlighted the current experiences faced by Indigenous employees and offered ten truths as recommendations to improve Indigenous experiences at work. What is the next stage in the research? Indigenous people need the opportunity to share their own stories and experiences at work to offer suggestions as to how to improve their future experiences. We are conducting work now to look at other intersections of the data, including disability, age, industry and location.

From neglect to modern slavery: Specialised disability employment programs in Australia
Mihajla Gavin, Linda Steele. Simon Darcy and Kathryn Johns

What Is the 'Big Problem'? People with disability (PwD) in Australia have much lower levels of employment (46%) than the nondisabled (84%). This pattern has been constant for the last 30 years, and it continues irrespective of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. From a policy perspective there have been a series of approaches to disability employment from open employment, disability employment services and Australian Disability Enterprises. Australian Disability Enterprises are legally excluded from having to pay the minimum wage and PwD are subjected to conditions that would be regarded as unlawful if applied to nondisabled Australians. Where are we in terms of research and knowledge? In 2012, 2016 and 2020 there have been audits of disability research undertaken in Australia that have identified a significant body of academic work identifying the human rights and disability discrimination inconsistency with Australian Disability Enterprises. However, PwD involved in these programs have been omitted from the protection of Australia’s industrial relations system. What are the implications for the future of work?We asked the question “why are people with disability treated differently in employment to nondisabled Australians?”. This paper reviews submissions to the Australian Human Rights Commission ‘Willing to Work’ report and the submissions/hearings related to employment of the Royal Commission into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. We utilise critical discourse analysis to analyse the submissions through the combined lenses of social approaches to disability, ableism and violence. What is the next stage of the research? In understanding the socially constructed employment ecosystem, our findings reflect on disparities regarding remuneration and ongoing opportunities for career development between disabled and nondisabled Australians and propose ways forward for improving regulation and employment outcomes for this group. This paper comes at a time where all disability employment services are being re-visioned through the Department of Social Services’ disability employment reference group and the Australian Disability Strategy 2021-2031 (launched 3 December 2021) that includes employment.

Understanding employee discontent in a post-COVID-19 world: The marginalised workers’ perspective
Lisa Perrone and Jasmin Perrone

What is the ‘big problem’? COVID-19 has profoundly affected how we view work and work-related wellbeing, accelerating the shift to a post-work world. While global economies begin to recover, there are signs that workers are rejecting the status quo of modern work in record numbers, dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’ and the ‘Great Discontent’ in the popular press. Preliminary evidence suggests that the pandemic has forced workers to confront their growing discontent with work due to deteriorating and precarious employment conditions and the absence of decent work. This is especially pertinent to marginalised workgroups, who face significant obstacles to meaningful employment and have been disproportionality impacted by the pandemic. Where are we in terms of research and knowledge? Studies embedded in libertarianism and critical theory have explored the post-work model of social organisation. There is also significant scholarly literature exploring the degradation of job quality and the pathologies of modern work, especially in the post-global financial crisis context. However, comparative literature in a post-COVID-19 world is anecdotal, with empirical evidence largely absent on the experiences of marginalised workers. What are the implications for the future of work? Understanding this significant work trend will allow researchers, policymakers and organisational practitioners to implement initiatives to support meaningful and decent work for all. What is the next stage in the research? At this crucial juncture, research is needed to investigate the extent of people’s disillusionment with, and resistance to, work in the post-COVID-19 world, especially for those on the margins coping with additional disadvantages and barriers to quality employment.

Is the future of work the future of welfare? Understanding marginalised work inside and outside of paid employment
Gaby Ramia

What is the ‘big problem’? Marginalised workers tend to pursue a long-term pattern of entering and exiting paid work, and many receive social security benefits while they work. Industrial relations scholarship showcases conditions at work, but not outside of it. Where are we in terms of research and knowledge? Longstanding social policy literature has theorised the work-welfare mix, but it is necessary to better understand the role of industrial relations research in understanding the in-work/out-of-work dynamic. What are the implications for the future of work? As long as the relationship between employment and welfare is not adequately understood, it is relatively easy for employers and the state to exploit marginalised workers. What is the next stage in the research? As research moves forward there is a need for industrial relations scholarship to better theorise minimum conditions outside of formal work. This is particularly necessary in light of the fact that ‘welfare conditionality’ often forces social security recipients to engage in unpaid work activities.

A/Prof Sue Williamson and Prof Linda Colley

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced large sections of the workforce to work from home, the uptake of working from home in the public sector had been limited and subject to managerial discretion. The advent of the pandemic removed this discretion, with governments directing public servants to work from home. Once employees began to return to their pre-pandemic workplaces in 2020, managers once again exercised managerial discretion – but this discretion was extended. Based on a survey of over 6,000 APS employees, findings showed that managers applied new pandemic-related criteria to determine who could work from home. This included assessing whether employees were deemed ‘vulnerable’ and could therefore be granted permission to work from home. The second wave of the survey, conducted in 2021 with over 5,000 respondents, reveals that while managers still exercised discretion on who could work from home, that this discretion was somewhat curtailed by agencies placing limits on the numbers of days employees could work remotely. We conclude that as hybrid working becomes normalised in workplaces, organisationally imposed restrictions on managerial prerogative create new barriers to both employees working from home, and managers’ decision-making.

Prof Marian Baird and Daniel Dinale

The COVID-19 lockdowns in Australia forced a change in work and care arrangements which also catalysed public discussion about gender relations in the home and at work. This paper assesses the many studies conducted before and during the pandemic of female and male working time preferences, and employer responses. Results show that during COVID-19 in Australia in 2020, both employee and employer preferences for all forms of flexible working arrangements increased, but there is less agreement about flexibility preferences for the future, how working time, workplaces and the gender contract will be re-shaped, or how new work arrangements should be regulated. Implications for future practice and policy are discussed.

Dr Mihajla Gavin, University of Technology Sydney, Professor Susan McGrath-Champ, University of Sydney, Dr Anthony Fee, University of Technology Sydney

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a distinctive form of disruption that has challenged even the most crisis-prepared organisations globally. While the onset of COVID-19 prompted organisations to shift quickly to remote forms of working under a reactive ‘crisis’ mode, it has also prompted organisations to think strategically about the future of remote work. Based on an exploratory study of the impact of COVID-19 on global mobility involving multi-stakeholder perspectives, we draw on preliminary insights from 29 interviews with global mobility practitioners and remote work consultants to understand new opportunities and challenges in managing an accelerated mobile workforce.

Organisations and workers have witnessed the benefits of remote working, at the same time as it has opened a Pandora’s box of challenges, particularly as the pre-pandemic boundaries between ‘domestic’ and ‘global’ work seemingly dissolve. On the one hand, it has enabled the potential for strategic global talent sourcing as well as opportunities for enhanced attraction and retention of talent particularly beneficial to address critical skills shortages. On the other hand, it has driven organisations to consider their risk appetite for remote working – particularly given compliance and legislative frameworks – and develop policies that set new limits for remote working in light of demands for greater flexible work options.

Within this, we also consider implications for those who manage remote workforces. We analyse the expanded role of global mobility practitioners regarding coordination and support in managing a larger remote – but not necessarily global – workforce, with new skills and responsibilities brought into their line of work, including around physical security, work health and safety, cybersecurity, employee wellbeing, and tax and financial management.

Anna, B., Blount, Y., Deranty, J-P, McWhinney, G., Sarina, T., Taksa, L. (Macquarie University)

Literature abounds on the advantages and limits of flexible work, telework/work from home (WFH). While COVID-19 accelerated such practices and interest in them, research on universities remains scarce. This paper presents findings from a Macquarie University study, which involved three phases of data collection. First, a literature review. Second, all staff were invited to contribute their ideas through an anonymous online data collection tool on five themes derived from the literature, including: (i) work arrangements; (ii) locations of work; (iii) modes of collaboration, communication and consultation; (iv) working with new technologies, technology resources and support; (v) WHS considerations. The final phase involved focus group interviews with staff from different occupational groups across the university.

Some findings were consistent with the existing literature. For example, increased productivity was associated with work intensification and extensification that blurred the boundaries between work and personal lives during the pandemic. Additionally, our study found a marked divergence between WFH policies and how they were implemented. Significantly, staff reported inconsistent adoption across the university and some management resistance, low levels of trust between some staff and their managers, and perceptions of WFH as a favour rather than a right. The resulting gap between policy and practice has failed to address diverse needs and staff capacities to effectively perform work flexibly.

Advances in artificial intelligence have provided firms with a range of new tools to automate routine service work and monitoring activities. AI-based algorithms are also increasingly used in management decisions from hiring to training, performance evaluation, and accompanying pay increases and discipline. This has raised new challenges for worker representatives, as they seek to regulate how these tools are adopted and used in the workplace. In this talk, I will discuss these challenges in comparative perspective – asking how differences in worker participation rights and structures affect possibilities for worker voice in the adoption and deployment of new AI-based technologies. Case studies are drawn from the IT and telecommunications industries in North America and Europe.