Explaining the Deterrence Gap in Employment Standards Enforcement

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Alan HALL, Memorial University, Canada
Eric TUCKER, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada
This paper seeks to explain the recent pattern of employment standards enforcement in Ontario, Canada. The analysis begins by demonstrating very limited use of deterrence measures in the context of a government policy which claimed a greater emphasis on proactive inspections and penalties for violators. Using both archival and interview data, we argue that the deterrence policy has been mediated through a number of competing political, economic, ideological and institutional factors, some of which are historical and some of which are emergent. While locating our analysis in a political economic framework which recognizes the contradictory effects of neoliberal governance and globalization on enforcement politics, economic, ideologies and practices, we also seek a more grounded in depth understanding of the gap between policy and practice through an examination of the enforcement decisions and rationales of front-line inspectors and managers. Along with demonstrating substantial variation in inspector willingness to use different deterrence measures, we also identify shared rationales for limiting the use of deterrence measures crossing the inspectorate as a whole, grounded in both current Ministry policy and the longer existing institutional emphasis on individual claims and compliance over inspections and deterrence.