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Abstract

The rise in zero hours contracts in liberal market economies (LMEs) has recently received much attention with calls for regulation to protect workers. LMEs typically adopt flexible labour market policies that are less regulated than coordinated market economies (CMEs) as a competitive advantage. In this paper we examine nuanced differences in the nature and regulation of zero hours work in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland. With an increased diffusion of zero hours work in both countries, we examine the different responses taken by these similar LMEs to this contemporary employment issue. We examine whether, as expected in an LME context, there is weak regulation in both countries and the factors influencing this. We find subtle but important differences between regulations of zero hours contracts. We conclude by discussing the possible implications of the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) (Brexit) for the regulation of precarious work.