Nigel Pitchford


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Research interests

My research focus revolves around the complex legal framework created for employment (contractual) statuses, and how such a structure can be used as an artifice when individual voices are raised in discontent within the workplace.  For 'power concedes nothing without a demand' (Frederick Douglass, 1857). 

Currently, there is a clear need for more empirical employment law research that works hand-in-hand with black letter and doctrinal approaches in order to facilitate rigorous evidence-based policy formation and evaluation.  However, there are many constraints when researching conflict at work, for example, the difficulty in extracting information from employment tribunal judgments.

During my doctoral research I completed a significant review for two books which was published in ‘New Technology, Work and Employment’ (2022):

‘The Gig Economy and The Future of Work’


I have also reviewed, prior to publication, an article for ‘The Economic and Labour Relations Review’ (2023):

‘False self-employment and bogus internships in Spain’

[False self-employment and bogus internships in Spain | The Economic and Labour Relations Review | Cambridge Core]. 

The external examiner for my doctorate, Dr E Kirk, Glasgow University, commented:

The candidate performed extremely well in the oral examination, being well prepared, clearly very knowledgeable on the topic and addressing questions very effectively.  

The work is measured, rigorous and well-argued.  It provides an excellent summary of the complex legal framework around status and grievance procedures.  

There is a highly reflective and pragmatic research design, responsive to the inherent difficulties of researching conflict and a useful discussion of the particular methods, eg the promise and peril of using ET and EAT online judgments.   

I have recently drafted an article which indicates a key dimension of my research under the title: ‘All cases are unique, and very similar to others’.  This work is based on a contemporary review of English local authority cases before the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).  These employers, like the appeal tribunal itself, are so often neglected from academic inquiry (even though EAT decisions can be cited in proceedings they so often remain unreported). 

My research highlighted elements of policy impact.  For example, a straightforward reform proposal was discussed with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s lead official on contractual status who accepted its rationale, yet it is subject to political will ultimately; whilst one local authority HR manager commented: ‘We need to deal with complaints regardless of employment status’.

During 2023, I presented my research findings to the Work and Equalities Institute’s Conference, University of Manchester, in January, and to the Society of Legal Scholars’ Annual Conference, in June. 



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