Analytically rigorous research

Engineer and office workers looking at designs

Current projects

Since 2000 CERIC has received external funding for more than 80 research projects, as well as receiving significant internal investments from the University of Leeds. Past research projects have covered all aspects of restructuring the economy and labour markets.

The Social Protection of Workers in the Platform Economy

Project led by Professor Chris Forde and Professor Mark Stuart


Funded by the European Parliament: circa €130,000

The study reviews the legal, social and economic conditions of platform work and makes recommendations concerning arrangements for the provision of social protection for workers in this growing sector. It reports findings from 50 interviews conducted with expert stakeholders in eight European countries (Bulgaria European countries (Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, UK) and from an original survey of 1,200 platform workers across four established online platforms (Amazon Mechanical Turk, Clickworker, Crowdflower, Microworkers).

Read the Report.

Online platforms and working conditions in live music

Project led by Dr Charles Umney

September 2017 - September 2018

Funded by Hans Boeckler Foundation

The project examines what kinds of online resources structure the labour market for live musicians. It identifies and maps different forms of online intermediaries in live music, considering their scope, functions, and their implications for musicians' working conditions. It also considers the limitations to "platformisation" in music and asks whether we could ever see "an Uber for live musicians".

SHARE - Seizing the Hybrid Areas of Work by Representing Self-Employment

Project led by Dr Annalisa Murgia

September 2017 – August 2022

Funded by the European Research Council: circa €1 Million

The project investigates how the growing area of solo self-employment across different European countries is producing consequences at the level of social protection, as well as at the level of collective representation. The project combines a multi-sited and cross-national ethnography, conducted within unions and solo self-employed associations in six EU countries (France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, the Netherlands and United Kingdom), and utilises a socio-legal perspective and quantitative research methods. The research team is composed of four postdoctoral researchers, one PhD student and the PI.

More information about this project.

Evaluation of the Migrant Access Project Plus

Joint proposal with the Centre for Health Promotion Research School of Health and Community Studies Leeds Beckett University)

Project led by Dr Gabriella Alberti, Professor Chris Forde and Dr Louise Warwick-Booth

October 2017 - ongoing

Funded by Leeds City Council

This project, in collaboration with Leeds Beckett, will evaluate the Leeds City Council Migrant Access project Plus, providing qualitative insight into the impact of MAPP upon the migrant community’s access to services, with a particular focus on the provision of primary care and housing and perceptions of ‘low level tensions’ in local communities around these services.

Migration, equality and social cohesion: promoting inter-community dialogue in times of change

Project led by Dr Gabriela Alberti, Professor Chris Forde and Dr Louise Waite

November 2016 - January 2018

Funded by Leeds Social Sciences Institute, ESRC Impact Acceleration Account

The key objectives have been to promote, through knowledge exchange between academics, local authorities and third sector partners, innovative strategies to engage with new migrant communities locally and facilitate dialogue between settled residents and new arrivals through a series of ‘listening laboratories’, as well as promote migrant voice at the city level.

Summary of the final event.

Housing is a mental health issue

Project led by Dr Kate Hardy

2016 - 2017

Funded by Feminist Review and IAA ESRC - Leeds Impact Account

Between September 2016 and April 2017, a participatory action research project was undertaken in the London Borough of Newham, examining the experiences of those facing potential or actual homelessness. Its findings reflect extremely high levels of hidden homelessness; serious physical and mental health issues arising or being exacerbated as a result of insecure housing, and an apparently systemic attempt to remove vulnerable people from the London borough.

Read the Report.

Young precarious workers in Poland and Germany: a comparative sociological study on working and living conditions, social consciousness and civic engagement

Project led by Dr Vera Trappmann

March 2016 - March 2019

Funded by the German Research Council: circa €800,000

The project analyses precarious working and living conditions of young workers in Germany and Poland and how these influence the emergent forms of social, class and political consciousness, individual life strategies and collective civic engagement.


Employer Engagement in Active Labour Market Programmes in the UK and Denmark

Project led by Dr Jo Ingold

2014 - 2017

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council: circa £300,000

This research examined the ‘demand-side’ of the welfare to work agenda, by comparing the engagement of employers in active labour market programmes in both countries. The study involved a survey of over 1,500 employers and over 100 interviews with employers and providers of employment services in the UK and Denmark.

More information about this research.

Completed projects

EU social rights/ internal market law

“Compatibility of social and labour rights recognised in EU legislation with European internal market and competition law”

A team of academics from the University of Leeds and Queen’s University Belfast along with international partners from across four EU Member States are investigating tensions within the EU’s legal framework between on the one hand social and labour rights and on the other internal market law (comprising economic freedoms and competition rules).

This nine-month contract is worth 118,000 € and was awarded via a Multiple Framework Services Contract with the European Parliament’s Research Department for the provision of expertise on regulatory and policy issues in the field of social policy and social protection to the EP’s committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

The study began in September 2014 and is due to report findings in May 2015.

The study is designed to:

  • Identify tensions between EU social and labour rights and the hard law of the EU internal market;
  • Give a systematic overview of how such conflicts have been reconciled
  • Suggest policy recommendations to the most relevant actors, including the European Parliament, based on the identified common trends.

It takes as its those social and labour rights (set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU) that have been the subject matter of the most contentious judicial (and policy) developments in recent years namely:

  • Rights related to industrial democracy and collective bargaining (Articles 12, 27 and 28)
  • Right to fair and just working conditions (Article 31)
  • Rights to social security and social assistance (Article 34)

And explores tensions with the EU’s internal market and competition law.

The research combines legal analysis with comparative empirical research and is conducted around the following phases:

  1. Mapping the relevant legal frame
  2. Identifying clashes and conflict at EU and national levels
  3. Identifying responses to those conflicts at national and EU levels
  4. Developing policy responses

The team
The project team is based at the University of Leeds in the Centre of Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC, Faculty of Business) and the Centre for International Research on Care, Labour and Equalities (CIRCLE, School of Sociology and Social Policy) as well as the School of Law. The team is led by Professor Dagmar Schiek, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. A network of international partners contribute to the comparative, empirical aspects of the study.

The principal investigator
Professor Dagmar Schiek (Queen’s University Belfast)

The multi-disciplinary team at the University of Leeds 
Professor Chris Forde - Professor of Employment Studies and deputy director of CERIC
Dr Andrea Wigfield - Associate Professor of Social Policy, Director of Care Connect, and Deputy Director of CIRCLE
Dr Liz Oliver - lecturer in employment law at CERIC
Dr Gabriella Alberti - Lecturer in employment relations at CERIC
Dr Pinar Akman  - Associate Professor in law, deputy director of Centre for Business Law and Practice
Dr Peter Whelan - Associate Professor in law, deputy director of Centre for Criminal Justice Studies

The international partners
Prof Niklas Bruun and Dr Kerstin Ahlberg -  ReMarkLab project, University of Stockholm
Prof Julia Lopez and Prof Consuelo Chacartegui Jávega - GRETDISS, University Pompeo Fabra, Barcelona
Prof Michael Doherty, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Dr Joanna Unterschütz - Assistant Professor in the Department of Labour Law and Social Security at the University of Business and Administration in Gdynia, Poland.

2008 - 2012

'The impact of the National Minimum Wage on the earnings, hours and work of domiciliary workers’, Low Pay Commission (With Moore, S. (PI), Forde, C. and Stuart, M.), April to Oct 2012. £27,800. The study involved a statistical analysis of the National Minimum Dataset of care workers and a number of qualitative case studies of local authority contracting arrangement for domiciliary care.

‘Women transport workers and the crisis’, International Transport Federation, (Stuart, M., Forde, C., Holgate, J. and Tomlinson, J.), Jan-July 2012. £20,000. This was a study providing both quantitative and qualitative research on women transport workers and the economic crisis. The research involved a literature review of the impact of the crisis on women workers internationally, a number of qualitative case studies of selected sectors in the transport sector, and a quantitative analysis of data sets including ILO, BLS and LFS.  

‘Broad-based community alliances: a comparative study of London and Sydney’ Funding provided to extend the ESRC grant to include a third case study – Seattle. Seed Corn Funding from Leeds University Business School, (with Holgate, J.), 2012, £1680.

'The State of the Yorkshire Economy', Higher Education Impact Innovation Fund, Principal Investigator (with Andrew Robinson, A. (PI), Stuart, M., Buckley, P., Voss, H. and Ellwood, P. LUBS. January 2011-July 2011. £17,500.

‘Diversity in the legal profession in England and Wales’, (Sommerlad, H. Webley, L, Duff, L. Muzio, D. and Tomlinson, J) funded by the Legal Services Board. 2010, £46,000. This qualitative study of 77 white women and BME law students, graduates, solicitors, barristers and other legal professionals including diversity managers was designed to explore experience of recruitment, culture and perceived informal barriers to progression within the profession.

‘Engaging communities and building social capital’, GMB (Union Modernisation Fund). With Holgate, J. 2010, £10,000.

'Migration Worker Project: The experiences of migrants in Barnsley', I. (with Forde., Mackenzie, R. and Ciupijus, Z.) December 2009-April 2010. £8,000.

'The Role of Employment Agencies in Pay Setting', ACAS, Forde, C. (PI), (with Slater, G. University of Bradford). June 2009-September 2010. £12,000.

'A Comparative Study of Non-Standard Employment', Japanese Institute for Labour Policy and Training (JILPT), Co-investigator (with Forde, C. and Slater, G. University of Bradford). June 2009-March 2010. £4,000.

‘The Regulation of Irregular Workers in the New Japan’, Japan Foundation. MacKenzie, R. Dec 2009, £1540.

'E-Skills Funding in Europe', European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, through EU Research Associates, (Forde, C.,Stuart, M. (PI)), CERIC. April 2009-December 2009; June 2009- March 2010. £12,000. The CERIC involvement in this EU project focused on a review of the literature on the financial implications and incentives for promoting the e-skills sector, including an assessment of human capital investment tax credit programmes.

‘Managing for Change’, knowledge transfer partnership, Leeds University Business School with Leeds Teaching Hospital, ESRC,  (with Kirkpatrick, I., Maltby, B. and Mascie-Taylor, H.). 2008-2010, £40,000.

‘Organising and case work in the NUT’, National Union of Teachers, (Tomlinson, J. and Stuart, M.) 2009, £13,000. This was a study providing both quantitative and qualitative research, combining a survey of all NUT branch representatives in England and Wales regarding casework and organising and 20 follow up interviews with branch representatives about qualitative aspects of their case work and workload.  

‘Evaluation of Unionlearn and the Union Learning Fund’, TUC Unionlearn/ DIUS, (Stuart, M., Cutter, J. and Winterton, J.) 2009-11, £161,000 – This was the largest evaluation of the ULF conducted to-date, involving mixed methods, which included a large employers’ survey, a survey of union project workers, analysis of learning agreements, analysis of a large dataset of union learners and 15 detailed qualitative cases of organisational practice.

‘Restructuring, redundancy and sustainable employment: the challenges of the contemporary economic crisis’, Worldwide Universities Network Leeds Fund for International Research Collaboration (Stuart, M., Greer, I., Forde, C., Greenwood, I. and MacKenzie, R.) 2009-2010. £19,980. This project focused on network building. A network of more than ten international partners, including Sydney, Milan, Toulouse, Leuven, Karlstad etc, shared research findings on the impact of the economic crisis at two workshops in Leeds and Milan and a special Symposium at the ILERA European Congress in Copenhagen in 2010.

‘Evaluation of Collective Learning Fund: Phase 2’, Trade Union Congress, Unionlearn, (Stuart, M.) 2008. £23,000 - This evaluation built on early CERIC work on the CLF round 1. It involved an analysis or project output records and a number of case studies of CLF projects.

'Conceptualising Contemporary Professions', (Muzio, D, Falconbridge, J., Tomlinson, J.) ESRC Seminar Series. 2008-9. £14,000. This ESRC seminar series drew together academics, policy makers and practitioners on a range of issues confronting contemporary professions including globalisation, the future of the professions and diversity and inclusion. Seminars were held in Leeds, Lancaster, Nottingham and London.

'The Business Case for Diversity', (Gold, J., Ford, J., Sommerlad, H., Tomlinson, J.) Funded by Yorkshire Forward and Learning Skills Council. 2008, £450,000. This Yorkshire Forward investment plan engaged businesses and training providers with evidence on the business case for diversity, tailored to the West Yorkshire region. Training resources and learning toolkits were developed and embedded in the curriculum of training providers.

‘Modern Union Representatives: Case Studies Research’, Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, for CBI/TUC/BERR Joint Working Group (Stuart, M., Charlwood, A., Tomlinson, J. and Perrett, R.) 2008. £12,805. The project involved ‘good practice’ case studies, involving management and union interviews, of specific examples of union representatives, such as union learning representatives, green representatives and equality representatives.

‘Learning through Work’, South East England Development Agency, (Stuart, M. and Winterton, J.). 2008, £26,000 – This was an evaluation project that included a review of documentary sources and a number of organisational case studies.

2001 - 2008

‘Encouraging Workplace Dialogue on Training and Skills – Case Studies’, Funded by Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform for BERR/TUC/CBI/DIUS Joint Working Group (Stuart, M., Forde, C. and Cutter, J.). 2007. £14,824.

‘Collective Learning Fund Pilot Evaluation Phase 1’, Trade Union Congress unionlearn. (Stuart, M. and Wallis, E.). 2007. £9,975.

‘Union learning in the Yorkshire region’, TUC Yorkshire Region (Stuart, M., Greenwood, I. and Tomlinson, J.). 2007. £6,000.

‘Employment relations in UK finance sector’, Korea Labor Institute (Stuart, M. and Martinez Lucio, M.). 2007. $8,000.

‘Review of on-the-job learning methodologies’, South East Economic Development Agency. (Stuart, M. and Wallis, E.). 2007. £10,000.

‘An Impact study on relocation, restructuring and the viability of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: The impact on employment, working conditions and regional development’, European Parliament. (Stuart, M., Forde, C. and MacKenzie, R.) 2006. €39,950.

‘Good Employment Relations in the UK offshore oil industry’, (with Forde, C, Stuart, M. and Mackenzie, R.), International Labour Office. 2004. $4,500.

‘Informal Networks and the Representation of Workers’ Interests’, (with Saundry, R. Central Lancs and Stuart, M.), Economic and Social Research Council. 2004-06. £46,988.

‘Qualitative Evaluation of ACAS Advisory Project Work’, (Stuart, M. and Martinez Lucio, M.), Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. May 2004- Jan 2005. £18,000.

‘Analysis of Blueprint for Business Success’, (Stuart, M. and Robinson, A.), Campaign for Learning. May – July 200. £6,000.

‘Examination of the social and economic impact of steel redundancies in Wales’, (M. Stuart, Greenwood, I., Forde, C., MacKenzie, R. and Gardiner, J.), Steel Partnership Training/ ISTC Community Union. Dec 2002 – Dec 2003. £26,805.

‘Investigation of Trade Union Learning Representative initiative’, (Stuart, M., Wallis, E. and Greenwood, I.), Trade Union Congress: Learning Services. Nov 2002 – Sept 2003. £16,683.

‘Sustaining Partnership in an Environment of Uncertainty’, (Stuart, M. and Martinez Lucio, M.) Department of Trade and Industry: Partnership Fund. Sept 2002 – Feb 2005 – (Amicus trade union, lead partner). £94,720.

‘Raising the Demand for Learning’, (M. Stuart) European Union: Equal Programme. Sept 2002 – Sept 2005 – This was a £2.6 million pound project, co-ordinated by the Campaign for Learning. £96,960.

‘Learning in Partnership: Responding to the Restructuring of the European Steel and Metal Sectors’, (Learnpartner), European Union: Framework 5 Programme – socio-economic research key action. Stuart, M. (Principal Applicant and Project Co-ordinator). Sept 2001 – June 2005 –The project included eight research partners, from seven countries. €1,200,000 (plus €250,000 match funding).