Precarious employment practices such as short-term contracts, low pay and lack of voice have undesired outcomes for workers, because these impede employees in their ethical rights to freedom, well-being and equality. Still, precarious employment practice is common in sectors with restrained economic conditions, such as Dutch agriculture. However, in every restrained industry, examples of more socially responsible employment management are reported. The question why some firms develop more socially responsible employment systems when economic conditions predict the use of low cost, precarious employment systems is central in this article. Structuration theory provides a lens to understand how employers position their employment practice in the wider (institutionalised) social context. Insight in the reproduction circuits that link employers' actions with their social context (product, market, institutions and policies, demographics) can reveal where, at a sector level, change to avoid unethical employment practice could start.