New BHRIGHT research theme to investigate the changing face of employment

New BHRIGHT research theme to investigate the changing face of employment

RMIT’s Business and Human Rights Centre (BHRIGHT) is proud to launch a new research theme that will investigate how workers’ lives and human rights are being impacted by changing business practices, globalisation, advancing technologies and climate change.

The new Work in Transition theme will focus on how work is changing and the social and political forces and labour market shifts that are reshaping how, when and where people work.

BHRIGHT Director Shelley Marshall said the new theme will shine a spotlight on the ways in which workers across diverse industries are facing challenges associated with climate change, globalised supply chains and new technologies.

“Whether it’s childcare or construction, retail or logistics, workers are being impacted by a rapidly changing employment scene that in many cases is eroding their right to decent, ongoing work, appropriate pay and genuine work-life balance,” Associate Professor Marshall said.

Our multi-disciplinary Work in Transition researchers investigate how and why the nature of work is shifting, both here and overseas. Based on research into sound policy approaches, they will also put forward proposals on how to meet the complex challenges workers confront and how to best manage work transitions in fair and equitable ways that deliver more sustainable and decent work.

Work in Transition theme leader Associate Professor Darryn Snell said that migrant workers, women working in the ‘feminised’ sectors of aged care, early childhood education and retail, as well as workers in regional Australia, were some of the hardest hit by the transitioning economy.

“Workers in many sectors find their employment is becoming more fragmented and short-term, with little opportunity to secure an ongoing position, receive quality training or have meaningful career pathways,” Associate Professor Snell said.

“In regional Australia, the transition to a low-carbon economy promised to revitalise regions and generate new job opportunities but it has often resulted in secure, well-paid work being replaced with precarious jobs. 

“At the same time, many other workers are exposed to health and safety risks and upheaval, with those in precarious work often also subjected to violence, including gender-based violence.”

Associate Professor Snell said even white-collar workers were being impacted by changing work practices and expectations, with the remote or hybrid ways of working which emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic not always delivering the benefits workers expected.

“While these new work models appear to offer greater ‘flexibility’ and improved work-life balance, many people are finding that technology has made their jobs more demanding and stressful, and lines are blurred between work and home life.”

Associate Professor Marshall said the new Work in Transition theme would build on BHRIGHT’s already-strong research collaborations and industry partnerships, as well as its links with national and international research networks.

“The theme draws together world-recognised scholars like Distinguished Professor Anthony Forsyth and Emeritus Professor Sara Charlesworth with passionate doctoral students.

We look forward to growing our collaborations with stakeholders across academia, government, industry and unions to advance knowledge in this field so we can ensure a more equitable and just transition for workers who are experiencing uncertain futures.

BHRIGHT’s Work in Transition theme will launch on 1 December 2022 with a keynote address by Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). A panel discussion, Q&A and networking drinks will follow.

For more information and bookings, click here

03 November 2022


03 November 2022


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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.