New labour and work-time regulation: A Marxian analysis of the UK economy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Nottingham Trent University
  • University of Leeds


This article examines the impact of work-time regulation, introduced by the UK's New Labour governments (1997-2010). In doing so, we return to Marx's hypotheses regarding the length of the working day. These include the arguments that class conflict over the length of the working day is inherently distributional in a surplus-value sense and that workers often display a preference for reduced hours even with a proportionate reduction in pay. Our quantitative Marxist methodology provides a way of assessing the pattern of surplus value before and during the period of office of the New Labour governments and the distributional effects of regulation. The impact of such regulations on workers' preferences are examined through an investigation of British Household Panel Survey data. Although many have been sceptical concerning the record of the last Labour governments, policies such as the Working Time Regulations (1998) and the Work-Life Balance Campaign (2000) are found to have been noteworthy innovations in the labour market. This is all the more important given recent moves by the successor government to weaken work-time regulation. Our results suggest the impact of these policy initiatives was broadly favourable, though the effect on men and women was different.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-732
Number of pages22
JournalCambridge Journal of Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2014


  • Marxian analysis, New labour, Regulation, Working time

ASJC Scopus subject areas