Management Consultants and the Employees of Their Client Organizations: Towards a Model of Employee Protection
(2018) 21:1 Canadian Labour & Employment Law Journal 117-172
Posted: 23 Sep 2018
Date Written: September 4, 2018
Organizations increasingly rely on external management consultants to restructure their businesses in an effort to improve performance, competitiveness, and profitability. This article focuses on the ramifications of such arrangements for the client organization’s employees. Management consultants generally wield substantial influence on their clients, and often perform managerial functions, directly interacting with, and exercising significant control over, the client’s employees. As a result, consultants may directly or indirectly contribute to labour and employment law infringements by the client organization. The author argues that while existing laws may provide some mechanisms of enforcement and protection, there is a need for more robust regulation to ensure that management consultants are made directly responsible for their actions where the effect of those actions is to cause a violation of employees’ rights. Accordingly, using “Lean” consulting as an example, specifically the implementation of Lean in the Saskatchewan healthcare system, the paper states the case for recognizing and expanding the liability of management consultants directly to their clients’ employees. Among other proposals, the author advocates a broad interpretation of existing employment and labour laws to capture the activities of management consultants where there exist the requisite elements of influence or control, and raises the possibility of establishing a regulatory scheme for the management consulting profession.
Keywords: managment consultants, client organization, employee protection, lean consulting, employment law, labour law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation