Tackling Informal Employment: A Critical Review of the UK Public Policy Approach

Social and Public Policy Review, 2007, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 1-22.

22 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2015

See all articles by Colin Williams

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

Although tackling informal employment is being accorded ever greater priority by governments across the western world, critical reviews of how public policy is addressing this issue are notable by their absence. This paper begins to bridge this gap. Providing a typology of the various public policy approaches available for tackling informal employment, ranging from those more repressive in orientation and grounded in deterrence measures through to those that seek to stimulate formalisation through the provision of incentives, a case study is then undertaken of the UK so as to understand the nature of its policy approach towards informal employment and the direction of change. Unlike other policy spheres where it is widely accepted that positive reinforcement of ‘good’ behaviour is more effective at eliciting change than negative reinforcement of ‘bad’ behaviour, the finding is that UK public policy towards informal employment remains heavily embedded in a repressive approach with deterrence measures continuing to dominate the policy landscape. The paper concludes by beginning to outline a way forward for public policy.

Keywords: Informal sector, tax evasion, shadow economy, household work practices, livelihoods, economic development, England

JEL Classification: H26, J46, J48, K34, K42, O17, P2, P3

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin, Tackling Informal Employment: A Critical Review of the UK Public Policy Approach (2007). Social and Public Policy Review, 2007, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 1-22., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2708341

Colin Williams (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

15 Conduit Road
Sheffield, S10 1FL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/management/staff/williams/index

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