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Dr Lydia Hayes

Dr Lydia Hayes

Reader in Law

School of Law and Politics

+44 (0)29 2087 9669
Room 2.10, Law Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Specialist in minimum labour standards; their formulation, enforcement and violation. My research engages with rapidly unfolding international debates on women and work, especially inequalities of gender and class.

  • Winner of 2018 Hart SLSA Early Career Research Book Prize.
  • Winner of 2018 Society of Legal Scholars Peter Birks' 2nd Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship.
  • Co-director of LAWLAB Research Centre.
  • Principle Investigator, The Legal and Social Life of Care Standards Regulation in England, Scotland and Wales (Wellcome Trust).
  • Team leader, Unacceptable Forms of Work global research programme, partnered with RMIT (Australia).
  • Visiting Fellow, RMIT University.
  • Executive board member of Institute of Employment Rights and Journal of Law and Society editorial board.
  • Holder of the Law and Society Research Fellowship award at Cardiff Law School 2013-2016.

My multi-award winning monograph Stories of Care: a labour of law. Gender & class at work (2017) was launched by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (Oxford), Professor Sandra Fredman QC (hon) (Oxford), Professor Beverley Skeggs (LSE). It is an interdisciplinary and methodologically distinct 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.

For more information see

The book was profiled by the Guardian Newspaper

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

Here is a free sample of the book to download (Introductory chapter).

Dr Lydia Hayes is author of the award winning monograph, Stories of Care: A Labour of Law. Gender and Class at Work (Palgrave, 2017).  Her research in 2017/2018 has highlighted connections between falling labour standards and rising problems of violence in care-settings, including elder abuse in both the UK and Australia.  In 2018/2019 Lydia is writing a second monograph: One Hundred Years of Equal Pay Law: The struggle for collective progress. 

Her recommendations for legal reform have been debated in the UK House of Lords and taken up as government policy in Wales. She is co-director of the LAWLAB Research Centre. The purpose of LAWLAB is to advance the field of empirical research in pursuit of effective regulation / regulatory systems and to promote cross-disciplinary research and knowledge exchange between legal and non-legal scholars. Lydia is an editor of the Journal of Law and Society, executive board member of the Institute of Employment Rights and co-founded the Cardiff University Law and Gender research group. She is a board member of the Centre for Law and Society and on the editorial board of the new Transforming Legal History book series with Routledge.  

Before joining the team at Cardiff, Lydia completed her PhD at Bristol University, where she taught public law.  Her 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.  Prior to that she worked as a researcher for the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, via the University of Wismar 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

Society of Legal Scholars

Committees and reviewing

Law School Management Board

Research Ethics Committee








I am Chair of the LAWPL Research Ethics Committee and LAWPL Research Integrity Officer.

Undergraduate Teaching: I lead the Legal Rights and Civil Justice module for 2nd year LLB students.  I am also module lead for the dissertation module option for 3rd year LLB students.

Postgraduate Teaching: I lead the Research Skills module for our LLM students

PhD Supervision: Together with Dr Bernadette Rainey, I supervise an ESRC funded PhD student exploring the role of relational fairness within the UK asylum appeals system.  With Dr Sara Drake, I 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 women, work and law, care work, minimum wage rights, access to justice, conceptions of justice, discrimination and socio-economic inequality.

My research is about women, work and law.  I focus on minimum labour standards and have published on the topics of worker exploitation, class-bias in employment rights, equal pay, the regulation of working time, technology at work, the national minimum wage, surveillance in care work, migration issues, trade union rights and the freedom to organise and bargaining collectively.  I am currently writing about gender based violence in care and also about racism in the organisation of care work in the UK.  I have a Wellcome Trust Seed Award to explore how the regulation of social care has the potential to impact on labour standards in care work. Between 2013 - 2016 I held the law and society research fellowship at Cardiff and undertook the research upon which my monograph Stories of Care is built.  Between 2013 - 2015 I undertook collaborative research through a Leverhulme / British Academy Small Grant award to explore electronic monitoring in homecare. 

Stories of care: a labour of law.

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: Gender-based Violence in Care

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 team leader on labour standards and social care in 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).  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 project as a whole investigates the regulation of unacceptable forms of work in countries including Argentina, 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 aim to 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