Dr Lydia Hayes

Lecturer in Law

School of Law and Politics

+44 (0)29 2087 9669
1.32, Law Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

- Lead researcher in the Unacceptable Forms of Work global research programme, partnered with RMIT (Australia) 2017

- Co-director of Lawlab@Cardiff research centre

- Appointed to Board of Institute of Employment Rights and Journal of Law and Society Editorial Board 2016

- Holder of the Law and Society Research Fellowship award at Cardiff Law School 2013-2016

Research with care workers was made possible via my Journal of Law and Society research fellowship award (2013-2016) and is the basis of my monograph Stories of Care: a labour of law. Gender & class at work published in 2017 The book is launched on 1st June by eminent speakers Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Professor Sandra Fredman, Professor Beverley Skeggs. It is an interdisciplinary and methodologically distinctive text which brings ethnographic research findings together with doctrinal analysis.  I argue that the working class women employed to care for older and disabled people in their own homes are institutionally humiliated by the gendered inadequacy of labour law. 


Stories of Care: A Labour of Law uncovers the interactions of law and labour that shape paid care work. Based on the experiences of homecare workers, this highly topical text unpicks doctrinal assumptions about class and gender to interrogate contemporary labour law. It demonstrates how the UK’s crisis in social care is connected to the gendered inadequacy of labour law and argues for transformative change to law at work.

‘Utterly compelling. Perhaps the best ever example in modern labour law scholarship of research-led recommendations.’ – Keith Ewing, Professor of Public Law, King’s College London

An important contribution to socio-legal research on care work and labour law.’ – Judy Fudge, Professor of Labour Law, University of Kent

‘Innovative and meticulous; merits a very wide readership.’ – Lizzie Barmes, Professor of Labour Law, Queen Mary University of London

A really important text which shows, through deep analysis of care workers’ stories, how badly undervalued their work is… It offers an excellent analysis.’ – Robin Allen QC, Cloisters Chambers

‘A rare and valuable insight into the lives and views of women who work in the little known world of homecare for rates of pay and conditions that shame our society.’ – David Brindle, Public Services Editor, The Guardian

‘Boundary-breaking … an outstanding contribution to the growing field of feminist labour law scholarship.’ – Joanne Conaghan, Professor of Law, University of Bristol

Elsewhere, I have published on equal pay, the regulation of working time, the national minimum wage, the use of covert surveillance in care work, migration issues, trade union rights and the freedom to organise and bargain collectively. Between 2013 and 2015 I undertook collaborative research through a Leverhulme / British Academy Small Grant award to explore electronic monitoring in homecare.  My focus on law at work embraces a wide range legal materials in the fields of employment rights and labour law, public law, discrimination, criminal law and human rights. Matters of gender, class and citizenship are at the heart of my work.

The underlying questions which inform all my work are those which ask how law at work shapes the lives, experience, and well-being of workers in low waged employment and promote greater understanding of the influence of low waged workers on the progress and dynamic evolution of law.  

In conjunction with Dr Bernadette Rainey supervise an ESRC funded PhD student exploring the role of relational fairness within the UK asylum appeals system.  With Dr Sara Drake I jointly supervise a PhD student investigating access to justice and the implications of Brexit in a project which is partnered with the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Wales.

I am interested in supervising future PhD students in respect of gender and labour law, access to justice, conceptions of justice, discrimination and socio-economic inequality. 

My lectureship specialism is in legal research methods and I module lead on Discrimination and Law for the undergraduate programme.  I am a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Law and Society, I represent the journal on the Socio-legal Studies Association executive, I am a board member of Cardiff Law School's Centre for Law and Society and I teach as part of the sociology of law team.  Since 2016 I have been an executive board member of the Institute for Employment Rights.

I worked with colleagues to found the 'Gender Rules' research group at Cardiff Law School, of which I am a co-director.  I also co-direct the Law-Lab research centre which seeks to advance understandings of interdisciplinarity between law, social science and the medical sciences.

Before joining the team at Cardiff, I completed my PhD at Bristol University, where I taught public law.  My PhD thesis won the 2014 Faculty of social science Research Excellence prize.  It offered a blend of theoretical, doctrinal and empirically informed arguments to demonstrate that the legal principle of equal pay in its current form is unsuitable and ineffectual in relation to its founding historical purpose of amelioriating womens' low wages.  I advanced an alternate conception of the equal pay principle to address the social injustice of women's economic disadvantage in contemporary working class occupations where womens' work continues to be regarded as unskilled and lacking in economic value.

Prior to that I worked as a researcher for the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, via the University of Witzburg for a European Commission funded research about free movement, as lead researcher on an Oxfam UK project about precarious work and as a UK trade union official with Unite. 

Professional memberships

Institute of Employment Rights

Haldane Society

Industrial Law Society

Socio-legal Studies Association

University committees

Law School Management Board

Research Ethics Committee

Stories of care: a labour of law.

In the book, I argue that the UK’s crisis of social care is a product of the institutionalised humiliation of paid care workers – a process made possible by the gendered inadequacy of law. Each chapter provides significant insights into the working lives of homecare workers. Their experiences and opinions are captured in a series of (what I have called) character narratives: Cheap Nurse, Two-a-Penny, Mother Superior and Choosy Suzy. Each is connected to a specific area of law at work: equal pay law, the legal protection of employment, minimum wage law, and workforce regulation via the Care Act 2014.

Excerpt from character narrative of Cheap Nurse

Excerpt from character narrative of Two-a-Penny

Excerpt from character narrative of Mother Superior

Current Research

Care workers in the dock

I am currently writing about the application of criminal law in the context of care work.  This research is focused on the new Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 section 20 offence of ill-treatment and wilful neglect which is targeted at hands-on care workers. Care workers are frequently implicated in the abuse of older and disabled people and the criminal law seeks to provide public reassurance that offenders will be identified and punished.  Judicial interpretation of the behaviours and actions which qualify as ill-treatment and wilful neglect in law are rapidly evolving.  Together with fear of prosecution at an individual level, these normative standards introduce a novel source of workplace and behavioural discipline in the care industry.  I explore the state’s turn to criminal law as a mechanism of regulation in the care sector and draw on care workers’ experience.  My findings call into question political reliance on market forces as a means of care standards regulation and its statutory affirmation exemplified by England’s Care Act 2014 and - albeit to a lesser extent - the Social Services and Wellbeing Act (Wales) 2014.  I situate analysis of Court of Appeal judgements about ill-treatment and wilful neglect within a wider legal context of the deregulation of employment; the privatisation, marketisation and fragmentation of provision; and the recrafting of statutory duties which have accompanied a sustained reduction in public funding for social care.

Eliminating Unacceptable Forms of Work

I am a lead researcher as part of the major global research project on Unacceptable Forms Of Work: Global Dialogue/Local Innovation This project investigates regulatory strategies to eliminate Unacceptable Forms of Work (UFW): jobs that “deny fundamental principles and rights at work, put at risk the lives, health, freedom, human dignity and security of workers or keep households in conditions of extreme poverty” (ILO 2013). Phase I of the Project established a framework for conceptualizing and regulating UFW (see attached McCann and Fudge International Labour Review 2016). I am part of an international team assembled through funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for Phase II of the project. The Principal-Investigator is Dr Deirdre McCann, Durham Law School, UK. The Co-Investigators are Professor Judy Fudge, Kent Law School UK, and Dr Sangheon Lee, International Labour Office, Geneva.

My contribution is made in partnership with Professor Sara Charlesworth of RMIT since the UK and Australia are the focus of the project's strand of inquiry into the global regulatory challenges presented in domiciliary care sectors. The UFW as a whole investigate UFW regulation in countries including Mexico, US, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil, UK, India, Italy, Brazil, Uruguay, Philippines, Korea, Lesotho, Spain, China, Australia, Vietnam and Canada. Sara and I are building a network team comprised of regulatory and representative actors and we will draw on diverse methodologies and policy experience to generate comparative insights into the challenges and potential of better regulation in the context of increased gender-based bullying and violence at work in the domicilary care sector.

My recent lecture on gender in legal research