Chapter 2: Two-a-Penny

An animated brief excerpt of the Two-a-Penny character narrative


Chapter 2: Two-a-Penny (and the protection of employment)

The Two-a-Penny character narrative communicates what it feels like to work on a zero-hours contract and the damage done to homecare workers’ self-confidence by their lack of economic security in the labour market. It represents stories about being forced to work overtime, being tricked by employers into taking jobs on false pretences, of being short-changed, but above all, stories about being fearful of instant dismissal.

An outstanding contribution to the growing field of feminist labour law scholarship. Imaginatively conceived and crafted, this is a boundary-breaking critique which uses the voices and experiences of homecare workers to trouble doctrinal categories and challenge received understandings of how law and labour interact. Professor Joanne Conaghan, University of Bristol, UK.

Two-a-Penny is a narrative device that focuses on understanding homecare work as insecure employment. From this perspective, the chapter offers a gender sensitive account of employment protection law and analyses judicial doctrine relating to unfair dismissal as well as doctrine that has arisen from the adjudication of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. Hayes argues that employment protection law normatively assumes, and then facilitates, the stability of male employment in ways that reflect notions of female inferiority. By examining employment protection law in the light of the Two-a-Penny character narrative, the chapter shows how homecare workers are negatively impacted by doctrine which distributes the advantages of employment security towards forms of employment in which men are typically engaged.