Professor Charles Umney


I joined the Leeds University Business School in January 2015 as a lecturer in the Work and Employment Relations Division (WERD). However, I also completed my PhD in WERD in early 2012. Between these dates, I worked at the University of Greenwich Business School. I became a Professor of International Work and Employment at WERD in November 2022.

After completing my PhD, I worked as a Co-Investigator on the European Research Council-funded project “The Effects of Marketization on Societies” (Primary Investigator: Ian Greer). This project examined how market competition is created, intensified and managed, and how these processes affect work and workers. This agenda has underpinned my research since, resulting in a sequence of studies particularly on working life in healthcare, welfare-to-work services, and cultural work. I have also begun to work increasingly on understanding worker protests from a global perspective, through my work with the Leeds Index (@Leeds_Index). 

Most recently, I have begun to focus on the effects of digitalization and automation on work- with a particular interest in warehousing jobs. My teaching also focuses primarily on this topic. For example, I led the creation and delivery of the WERD Masters-level module, “Digitalization, Automation, and the Future of Work”.


  • Director of Postgraduate Research Studies (WERD)

Research interests

My primary research interests are as follows:

  1. Digitalization, automation and the future of work. I am particularly interested in how digital technologies and artificial intelligence are likely to affect workers in the warehousing industry. 
  2. Market competition and power relations at work. Through studies of healthcare, welfare-to-work, and the cultural industries, I have sought to understand how efforts to create and extend market competition have affected working life. 
  3. Worker protest from a global perspective. Particularly through my work with the Leeds Index, I have helped develop and analyse new datasets looking at how workers have tried to defend working conditions and how this varies internationally. This research has concentrated on on-demand labour platforms and encompasses healthcare and retail work. 


  • PhD, Work and Employment Relations
  • MA International Studies
  • BA(Hons) Jazz Studies

Student education

My teaching currently focuses on digitalization, artificial intelligence and the future of work, particularly at postgraduate level. Aside from this, I also teach extensively on issues relating to labour market institutions, with a particular interest in international/comparative study. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change

Current postgraduate researchers