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Measuring Multi‐Dimensional Labour Law Violation with an Application to South Africa

Haroon Bhorat, Ravi Kanbur, Benjamin Stanwix and Amy Thornton

British Journal of Industrial Relations, 2021, vol. 59, issue 3, 928-961

Abstract: The rights of workers contained in labour law are multi‐dimensional, and where workers face violations in more than one dimension, this compounds worker vulnerability. Yet, past analysis has tended to concentrate on compliance one dimension at a time — often with an almost exclusive focus on minimum wages. How can we conceptualize and measure compliance with labour laws more comprehensively? This article draws on the multi‐dimensional poverty literature to set up an index that measures the extent of labour law violation along different dimensions. This index is then applied to South Africa to illustrate its application, and examine the insights such an index can provide on the nature and granular structure of compliance and levels of worker vulnerability. A quantile regression approach reveals how correlates of compliance vary substantially across the distribution of violation, highlighting that the probability of violation at the individual level is not linear but multiplicative in nature. As in the field of poverty studies, the development of multi‐dimensional measures for labour violation can offer a broader understanding of the impact of overlapping vulnerabilities.

Date: 2021
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