Punishment and Work Law Compliance: Lessons from Chile

63 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2012 Last revised: 9 Oct 2012

Date Written: February 23, 2012


Workplace law activists and reformers find it increasingly more difficult to obtain redress for violation of workers’ rights. Some of them are calling for stricter enforcement and tougher penalties to bring employers into compliance. However, after seven and half months of participant observation at the Labor Directorate and the labor courts of Chile, institutions that use punishment as their main tools of enforcement, I am skeptical about the likelihood of success of mere punishment for effective workplace law enforcement and compliance. I am skeptical even though Chile is a country recognized as the Latin American “jaguar” for its successful economy and high respect for the rule of law. I observed that in Chile punishment bred a culture of resistance against workplace law enforcement. Some powerful employers mobilized courts and other government players against the labor inspectorate, the agency in charge of administratively enforcing all laws regarding the workplace, rendering the institution moot. My findings provide further evidence for New Governance, responsive regulation and traditional “Latin” inspection strategies being advocated by some law and policy scholars in the United States and beyond. While most of these scholars do not discard the importance of punishment, they call for more participatory and cooperative regulatory and enforcement processes, the use of persuasive rather than just punitive enforcement orientations, and conciliatory and remedial strategies by the enforcers to obtain better compliance results. In this manner, the Chilean case supports continued experimentation with non-punitive enforcement tools not just in Chile but also in the United States and beyond.

Keywords: employment law, work law, labor inspection, New Governance, responsive regulation, Chile

JEL Classification: K31, K33

Suggested Citation

Rosado Marzán, César F., Punishment and Work Law Compliance: Lessons from Chile (February 23, 2012). Hofstra Labor and Emploment Law Journal, Vol. 29, 2012, Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper No. 2012-07, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2114370 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2114370

César F. Rosado Marzán (Contact Author)

University of Iowa College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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