This paper will consider whether a system based on private contracting by individuals has the capacity to develop a right to fair treatment at work; the extent to which common law principles are able to contribute to that development; some of the inadequacies of enforcement under the common law; and the need for additional support from other non-legal forms of ‘soft’ regulation. In particular, the paper will conclude with some observations on a current project of the Australian Institute of Employment Rights to develop a system of accreditation for employers who comply with a proposed Charter of Employment Rights. My subject is the establishment of a new system of rights for employees, or more accurately still, the establishment of a new approach to framing and recognising workers’ rights.
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