The Significance of the Systemic Relative Autonomy of Labour Law

(2017) 40 Dalhousie Law Journal 1

66 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2017

See all articles by Bruce P. Archibald

Bruce P. Archibald

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law

Date Written: June 24, 2017


The extent to which labour and employment law form an autonomous subsystem within the legal order is a significant matter in labour relations scholarship. Human capability theory helps explain how open legal constructs for structuring personal work relations are emerging in a relatively autonomous manner. Similarly, concepts of relational rights and relational contract theory assist in understanding the relatively autonomous development of restorative labour market regulation, with both substantive and procedural dimensions. Moreover, dramatic changes in freedom of association doctrine under the Charter, which now procedurally protect collective bargaining, the right to strike and the independence of unions from management, provide space for relatively autonomous regulation of the unionized economic sector. However, there is far less constitutional protection for substantive norms governing workplace relations. Nonetheless, the relative autonomy of labour and employment law may constitute a barrier against illiberal, populist distortion of labour market regulation.

Keywords: Labour, Employment, Human, Capability

Suggested Citation

Archibald, Bruce P., The Significance of the Systemic Relative Autonomy of Labour Law (June 24, 2017). (2017) 40 Dalhousie Law Journal 1, Available at SSRN:

Bruce P. Archibald (Contact Author)

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

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6061 University Ave
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9

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