Labour Law, Employees’ Capability for Voice, and Wellbeing: A Framework for Evaluation
Journal of Human Development and Capabilities
Labour power has significantly declined across affluent democracies in recent decades, resulting in a widening scale of power inequality within the contemporary employment relationship. Employee voice is a key component of labour power that represents a human capability according to Amartya Sen’s conceptualisation: a real freedom to achieve states of being that one has reason to value. Employees deficient in the capability for voice lack sufficient bargaining power to influence workplace decision-making, which threatens their wellbeing by increasing their risk of exposure to work-related stressors and limiting their opportunities to improve their welfare. In this article, employee voice legislation is argued to be a necessary social conversion factor of employees’ capability for voice that can promote further advantage. However, research assessing its effectiveness at enhancing wellbeing is greatly limited due to an over reliance on neoliberal and new institutional forms of economic analysis that reveal little about the quality of employees’ lives. A comprehensive framework for evaluation based on Sen’s capability approach is proposed that when operationalised for empirical analysis, can advance our understanding of employee wellbeing in the twenty-first century.