Employment and social security


This research project analyses the relationship between employment and social security in the protection of vulnerable workers.


Project background and aims

Recent events reveal the vulnerability of workers whose participation is low paid, precarious, intermittent or over-committed. That vulnerability is experienced both immediately, week to week, and longer-term, for instance in a crisis or in old age.

Calls are now being made to reset the legal provisions for employment and social security, in particular the alignment between private and public responsibilities to protect and support.


This project has a policy perspective. It is socio-legal in the sense that it taps social research, analysis of discourses and legal studies to evaluate the biases of proposals for law reform. It is interested in how paradigms shift. A case study is the relationship between employment and unemployment protection in the gig economy.


  • Chris Arup, 'Liberty or Protection? Employment and Social Security Law Discourse in Australia' (working paper, December 2021).
  • Anthony O'Donnell, Chris Arup, 'Income Support in a Time of Contagion', Australian Journal of Labour Law, forthcoming May 2021.
  • Chris Arup, Anthony O'Donnell, 'The end of unemployment: toward a common working-age payment?', Social Security Reporter 5(9): 109-111, 2003.
  • Anthony O'Donnell, Chris Arup, 'Social security and labour law: constructing the labour market subject', Working Paper no. 24, Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law, University of Melbourne, December 2001, 32 pp.