Labour inspection and employment relationship

The protection of the employment relationship, placed within the contract of employment, has been at the heart of the International Labour Organization’s agenda since the middle of the 1990’s. The employment relationship is the natural evolution of what previously represented the master-and-servant model. The employment relationship within the contract model operates as a framework for both the protection of workers and the guaranteeing of the exercise of fundamental rights at work.

The Industrial Revolution laid the ground for the progress of the labour law doctrine in the sense that new inventions increased productivity, and modified the equilibrium of power within the workplace. This scenario provided many opportunities for new law regulations, aimed to protect workers from the asymmetry of power relations. In this context, labour inspectorates were created to guarantee the enforcement of labour legislation, rules and regulations.

Today, the globalization phenomenon has changed the world of work establishing innovative organizational systems of doing business. As a result, new forms of employment relationship have emerged. The concern among scholars and practitioners on the determination of criteria for the employment relationship is a key element of this new scenario. The strengthening of labour administrations and inspections in many countries goes hand in hand with the enforcement of the rights established within the employment relationship framework.

This paper aims at analyzing the connections between the employment relationship and the role of labour inspection as a governance tool to protect workers’ rights.