Dr Joe Atkinson

School of Law

Lecturer in Law

Joe Atkinson
Profile picture of Joe Atkinson
+44 114 222 6826

Full contact details

Dr Joe Atkinson
School of Law
Bartolomé House
Winter Street
S3 7ND

I joined the University of Sheffield as a Lecturer in 2019. Before joining Sheffield, I taught at University College London, Queen Mary University of London, and the University of Oxford. 

My main area of research is employment law, with a particular focus on the protection of human rights at work, and I have a strong interest in philosophical and theoretical approaches to legal scholarship. 

Current research projects include work on philosophical and legal aspects of human rights protection within the employment relationship, the role of implied terms in relational contracts, and the regulation of artificial intelligence and 'algorithmic management' in the workplace. 

I hold a PhD in law from University College London, and law degrees from the University of Oxford and London School of Economics. I was a visiting researcher at New York University School of Law, and am an Associate Fellow of the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute.

Before academia I worked in Parliament for several years as a Senior Researcher and Advisor in the shadow Treasury and Justice teams.

  • LLM, London School of Economics
  • BA Jurisprudence, University of Oxford
  • PhD, University College London
Research interests
  • Employment law
  • Human rights
  • Private law
  • Legal theory

Journal articles


  • Atkinson J & Collins P (2023) Algorithmic Management and the Risk to Rights at Work In Quintavalla A & Temperman J (Ed.), Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights OUP RIS download Bibtex download
  • Atkinson JR (2018) Human Rights as Foundations for Labour Law In Collins H, Lester G & Mantouvalou V (Ed.), Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law OUP View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Atkinson J () Johnson v Unisys Ltd (2001): A Compelling Constitutional Vision of Common Law and Statute? In Bogg A, Davies A & Adams-Prassl J (Ed.), Landmark cases in labour law RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

  • Atkinson JR (2017) Book Review: Michael Boylan, Natural Human Rights: A Theory. Political Studies Review. RIS download Bibtex download


  • Atkinson J (2020) 'Brexit: The Impact on Social and Workers Rights', briefing paper prepared for the Equal Rights Trust. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Atkinson J (2016) 'Legislative Implementations of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: A Comparative Review', briefing paper prepared for the Special Advisors to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. RIS download Bibtex download


  • Atkinson J (2020) ‘Automated management and liability for digital discrimination under the Equality Act 2010’. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Atkinson J (2020) 'COVID-19 and employee rights: securing the right to safe working conditions'. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Atkinson J (2018) 'Gender and the Future of Work' briefing paper prepared for the Tribune Group of Labour MPs. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Atkinson J (2017) ‘Parliamentary Intent and the Sewel Convention as a Legislatively Entrenched Political Convention’, U.K. Const. L. Blog. RIS download Bibtex download
Title/Description Awarding Body People Involved Dates Amounts
'AI and Employment Law' Society of Legal Scholars SICCL and SPERI Years funded: 2020-21. £3000
Teaching interests

I largely teach in my own areas of research, which means I am able to deliver research-led teaching that gives students an insight into the new ideas and emerging trends in these fields.

I encourage students to reflect critically on the areas of law that I teach; what are they trying to achieve, and does the current law fulfil these aspirations? I also believe that it is important to understand the social and policy context within which the law operates.

This is not only far more interesting than merely learning a set of rules, it also develops students’ ability to think deeply and make coherent arguments about complicated legal issues. As a result, I expect my students to not just be able to understand the law, but also to engage with it normatively; what’s good about the law, what reforms are desirable?

Teaching activities


  • Employment Law
  • Public Law
  • Contemporary Issues in Law


  • Discrimination in Employment Law
Professional activities and memberships

I am a member of the Society of Legal Scholars, the Institute of Employment Rights, and the Industrial Law Society.

Recent invited papers and keynote lectures

  • Invited participant at Oxford University workshop on 'Spotlight on Algorithmic Decision-Making' as part of Undoing Discriminatory Borders project (October 2020).  
  • Invited presenter at Modern Law Review funded workshop on 'The Horizontal Effect of Human Rights in the UK and Beyond' (September 2020).
  • Invited presenter at workshop on 'The political economy of the Covid-19 crisis' hosted by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (August 2020).
  • J. Atkinson, 'Human Rights and the Scope of Employment Law', presented at the Labour Law Research Network Conference in Valperaiso (2019)
  • Invited participant at Modern Law Review seminar on 'The Future of Human Rights at Work' at the University of Essex (2019)  
  • J. Atkinson, ‘Human Rights at Work and Implied Terms in the Contract of Employment’, presented at the London Labour Law Discussion Group (2018).
  • J. Atkinson, ‘Human Rights at Work and Implied Terms in the Contract of Employment’ presented at the Oxford Labour Law Discussion Group (2017).
  • J. Atkinson, ‘Human Rights as Foundations for Labour Law’ presented at the Labour Law Research Network Conference in Toronto (Jule 2017).
  • J. Atkinson, ‘Human Rights and Labour Law’, presented at RemarkLab Workshop at Stockholm University (2016).