The research examines the different forms of regulation of conditions of employment (i.e. bargaining council agreements, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), and sectoral determinations) and what sort of accommodation they make for small firms. Three key areas are examined: the coverage of the regulations (and the representivity of bargaining councils) as well as non-compliance with the regulations; the enforcement of regulations; and exemptions (or variations) from the regulations. Furthermore, most exemptions come from small firms and many more exemptions come from non-party than party firms. A number of bargaining councils also have ‘blanket’ exemptions for small and new firms. It is not possible to compare the exemptions data with the data on variations from the BCEA and sectoral determinations because of the high number of pending variation applications.