Work in Britain's Informal Economy: Learning from Road‐Side Hand Car Washes

22 Pages Posted: 15 May 2018

See all articles by Ian Clark

Ian Clark

Nottingham Trent University

Trevor Colling

De Montfort University - Department of Human Resource Management

Date Written: June 2018

Abstract

The United Kingdom has over 10,000 hand car washes (HCWs). This article examines two research questions: what do HCWs reveal about the informalization of employment? and what is the prospect of regulation of them? Setting HCWs in a theoretical framework shows that they are part of a growing industry which is becoming an increasingly familiar and visible part of the economy, where control of labour costs is a key factor. Employers make a strategic choice to engage precarious and vulnerable, usually migrant, labour securing further competitive advantage at the cost of pronounced labour exploitation and long hours — the tendency towards informalization. Therein a low‐cost business model disciplines competition to usurp higher productivity mechanized car washing.

Suggested Citation

Clark, Ian and Colling, Trevor, Work in Britain's Informal Economy: Learning from Road‐Side Hand Car Washes (June 2018). British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 56, Issue 2, pp. 320-341, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3178410 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjir.12286

Ian Clark (Contact Author)

Nottingham Trent University ( email )

Burton Street
Nottingham NG1 4BU, NG1 4LN
United Kingdom

Trevor Colling

De Montfort University - Department of Human Resource Management ( email )

Leicester, LE1 9BH
United Kingdom
+44 116 250 6135 (Phone)
+44 116 250 6255 (Fax)

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