This article examines the role of civil society organizations in generating civil regulation; that is, non-statutory norms, codes and standards of good practice that are intended to govern human resource management. It uses case study evidence of four charitable organizations in the United Kingdom to explore why they engage in civil regulation, the methods they use to secure business compliance and the forms of regulation they generate. There is an expanding literature on civil regulation, much of which focuses on the creation of voluntary codes that govern international business activity. Regulation of this type is often designated ‘private regulation’ and is understood as a functional alternative to regulation by the state. This article presents an opposing view, that civil regulation often develops within the nation-state and that it is not a form of private regulation but is bound up inextricably with the juridification of the employment relationship.