Aristea Koukiadaki awarded 2m by the ERC for research on remedies in comparative labour law

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The funding provides an opportunity to provide an alternative reading of labour law, one that highlights the crucial role of remedial rules and institutions when it comes to understanding the content, meaning, and enforcement of labour rights.

Professor Aristea Koukiadaki has been awarded a 2 million Consolidator grant by the European Research Council for a 5-year, inter-disciplinary research project on remedies in comparative labour law.

Whether a worker is entitled to an effective remedy, including bring able to get access to justice and secure appropriate redress (e.g. re-engagement if unfairly dismissed), is a crucial legal issue in an employment relation. Outside the courtroom, the question of which remedies may be available, if at all, to a wronged individual, e.g. a gig worker or a migrant woman, is intrinsically related to the status of such claims and ultimately claimants in the wider political and socio-economic framework.

CURE (Conceptualising and Understanding Remedies) will put forward a radical rethinking of how we should regulate the employment relationship that reflects the need to consider how remedial rules and institutions play a central, constitutive role in capitalist societies.

The project could not be more timely. Recent cases, such as the decision by P&O Ferries in the UK to abruptly make the crew redundant without notice, have drawn attention to the question of how best to ensure effective compliance with labour rights.

CURE is also conceptually and methodologically innovative. It seeks to provide a radical re-reading of labour law that moves away from an assessment solely based on formal legal rights to examine instead how legal systems intersect with political and economic systems to respond to labour wrongs and injustices.

The central thesis of the project is that the legal underpinning of remedial rules (on access to justice, nature of redress etc.) and institutions (e.g. courts) is inextricably related with the political and economic processes, which are relevant to the employment relationship, influencing ultimately our social imaginaries of redress.

To explore this question, CURE will build on advances in computational legal analysis and combine these with legal analysis and empirical qualitative methods to provide an evaluation of the remedial framework across a range of countries in Europe (France, Greece, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and at supranational (EU and ILO) levels. It is expected that the findings will lead to a foundation of a new classificatory system of labour law systems capturing the diversity of the ways through which redress is understood and operates not only in law but also in the political and economic systems.

Professor Koukiadaki commented: "The funding from the ERC will provide a unique opportunity to provide an alternative reading of labour law, one that highlights how remedial rules and institutions may help constitute the content and meaning of labour rights but may also affect their effective enforcement. Apart from the contribution of the findings to the research community, the findings have the potential to inform policy debates on the direction of labour law and regulation today. This is because they will provide a much-needed corrective to the most visible debate in the recent years around regulation/de-regulation of formal legal rights to illuminate the crucial role of the remedial framework in calibrating ultimately the effectiveness of labour regulation."