Justice Everywhere

a blog about justice in public affairs

Category: Work

From the Vault: Good Reads in Economic Ethics

While Justice Everywhere takes a break over the summer, we recall from our archives some of our memorable posts from 2016-2017.

Here are four good reads in economic ethics that you may have missed or be interested to re-read:

Anca Gheaus’ ‘There is too much division of labour

Lisa Herzog’s ‘If everything is measured, can we still see one another as equals?

James Hickson’s ‘Freedom for Uber Drivers

Mirjam Muller’s ‘Are Sweatshops Drivers for Gender Equality?

 

Maternity leave: why should employers pay?

Labour Market Injustice

Labour markets are rife with questions of justice. This series of blog posts; explore cases of injustice, highlight theoretical puzzles and point towards possible solutions. They emerged from debates at the ‘Labour Market Injustice’ Workshop co-hosted by Newcastle and Durham Universities and generously sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy.  In this fourth post Sarah Goff discusses bearing the costs of maternity leave.

In a 2004 interview, Donald Trump described pregnancy as an inconvenience” for business. Whether or not this remark reveals anything about President Trump’s intentions for his promised reforms to maternity leave in the U.S., it seems plausible as a statement of fact. For a business, it often will be an inconvenience for employees to have a legal right to take a leave of absence and return to their positions without penalty. Of course, the cost of providing paid leave is additional to any costs incurred from the inconvenience of the leave-taking itself.

Observing that there are costs to maternity leave does not imply new mothers lack a moral right to take it. The observation simply raises the question of who is responsible for bearing these costs. The case for employers to provide paid maternity leave is less strong than the case for employers to accommodate new mothers in taking a period of leave with a right to return to their jobs. While only employers can bear the cost of the inconvenience to business, there are many feasible arrangements for other actors to bear the costs of providing financial support during maternity leave. In fact, there is substantial variation across societies in: public provision for paid maternity leave, legal mandates on employers to provide paid leave, employers’ provision of paid leave in excess of legal requirements (particularly in high paying industries where there is a business interest in retaining skilled employees), and social and cultural practices of support for new parents from extended families and kinship networks.

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Are Sweatshops Drivers for Gender Equality?

Labour Market Injustice

Labour markets are rife with questions of justice. This series of blog posts; explore cases of injustice, highlight theoretical puzzles and point towards possible solutions. They emerged from debates at the ‘Labour Market Injustice’ Workshop co-hosted by Newcastle and Durham Universities and generously sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy.  In this third post Mirjam Mueller explores the putative connection between sweatshop labour and female emancipation.

In 1884 Friedrich Engels argued in The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State that women’s participation in the workforce was key to their emancipation. By entering the workforce on equal footing with men, women would become economically independent and traditional gender relations would be destroyed by capitals indiscriminate demand for labour. Does this mean we should put our hopes on capitalism promoting gender equality?

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Stop Supporting the Living Wage Movement!

Labour Market Injustice

Labour markets are rife with questions of justice. This series of blog posts explore cases of injustice, highlight theoretical puzzles and point towards possible solutions. They emerged from debates at the ‘Labour Market Injustice’ Workshop co-hosted by Newcastle and Durham Universities and generously sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy.  In this second blog post Ben Sachs offers reasons to be wary of the campaign for a living wage.

Those who support the Living Wage Movement (LWM) no doubt have their heart in the right place. They support the LWM because they care about the poor or specifically the working poor. However, the LWM is going to divide poor people against each other and thereby undermine their ability to effectively advocate for their own cause. And as to the working poor specifically, the LWM will harm them by misleading people into thinking that they don’t exist.

As we all know, the current reality is that many full-time workers don’t earn enough money to live a decent life—at least not without the state’s help. Fortunately, the working poor are eligible for various state-sponsored programmes, such as the Universal Credit and the Child Benefit (in the U.K.). The crucial thing to notice, though, is that the non-working poor are eligible for those programmes too.

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Freedom for Uber Drivers?

Labour Market Injustice

Labour markets are rife with questions of justice. This series of blog posts explore cases of injustice, highlight theoretical puzzles and point towards possible solutions. They emerged from debates at the ‘Labour Market Injustice’ Workshop co-hosted by Newcastle and Durham Universities and generously sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy.

In this first blog post James Hickson explores how the growth of the platform economy affects the values of freedom and independence. Does the rapidly changing nature of work signal a need to debate how we should understand workplace freedom in the first place?  

In April 2016, Travis Kalanick, the CEO and co-founder of Uber, published a blog post defending the company’s classification of their drivers as “independent contractors” rather than standard employees. Kalanick argued that drivers choose Uber “because they want to be their own boss. Drivers value their independence—the freedom to push a button rather than punch a clock, to use Uber and Lyft simultaneously, to drive most of the week or for just a few hours”. Kalanick even quoted one driver who claimed “I would quit if they tried to make me an employee, because I value my freedom as an independent contractor too much”.

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