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Legal Avoidance and the Restructuring of Work

The Structuring of Work in Organizations

ISBN: 978-1-78635-436-5, eISBN: 978-1-78635-435-8

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 17 August 2016


This paper posits that legal avoidance – employers’ search for forms of employment to which labor and employment laws do not apply – is an important driver of the restructuring of work. It examines three examples of restructuring that enable employers to avoid legal liability and compliance costs: the classification of workers as independent contractors; the use of part-time and variable-schedule work; and employers’ deskilling of jobs and reliance on vulnerable workers. None of these strategies is itself unlawful, but their impact is to limit workers’ legal protections and weaken the law itself. Employers may also experience unintended consequences of restructuring.




I am grateful to Robert Bird, Diane Burton, Lisa Cohen, and Stephen Park for their feedback on earlier versions of this work.


Alexander, C.S. (2016), "Legal Avoidance and the Restructuring of Work", The Structuring of Work in Organizations (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 47), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 311-331.



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