Dalhousie Law Journal


labour, employment, law, autonomy, rights, contract, market, regulation, freedom, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, collective bargaining, strike, union, management


The extent to which labour and employment law form an autonomous subsystem within the legal order is a significant matter in labour relations scholarship. Human capability theory helps explain how open legal constructs for structuring personal work relations are emerging in a relatively autonomous manner Similarly concepts of relational rights and relational contract theory assist in understanding the relatively autonomous development of restorative labour market regulation, with both substantive and procedural dimensions. Moreover dramatic changes in freedom of association doctrine under the Charter, which now procedurally protect collective bargaining, the right to strike and the independence of unions from management, provide space for relatively autonomous regulation of the unionized economic sector However there is far less constitutional protection for substantive norms governing workplace relations. Nonetheless, the relative autonomy of labour and employment law may constitute a barrier against illiberal, populist distortion of labour market regulation.