Temporary employment increases in public sector

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Spain has a very high level of temporary employment, especially among women. However, in recent years the temporary employment rate has been falling slightly in the private sector, while increasing in the public sector, which previously had a relatively low level of such non-permanent employment. The public sector is a major employer of women and its female employees are much more likely than their male colleagues to work on temporary contracts. We review the situation at the beginning of 2002.

The Spanish labour market is characterised by very high levels of temporary employment. Though the level of temporary employment is still far higher in the private sector than in the public sector, in recent years it has fallen slightly, whereas in the public sector it has risen. Nevertheless, there are currently four times more temporary employees in the private sector than in the public sector, and the private sector temporary employment rate is over a third, while in the public sector it is around one-fifth. The most recent figures are provided in table 1 below.

Table 1. Employees in the private and public sectors, by status, second quarter 2001
. No. of employees %
Private sector . .
Permanent 6,146,400 65.71
Temporary 3,206,900 34.29
Public sector . .
Permanent 1,867,000 79.70
Temporary 475,6000 20.30

Source: drawn up by author from National Institute of Statistics (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, INE) figures.

In the private sector, the share of temporary employment grew steadily from the 1980s to 1995, when it began to fall slightly. In the public sector, however, since figures began to be recorded in 1987, the rate has doubled. Developments from 1987 to 2001 in the private sector are shown in table 2 below.

Table 2. Employees in the private sector, by status, 1987-2001
Annual average Total Permanent Temporary Non-classifiable % permanent % temporary
1987 6,228,700 4,933,000 1,281,500 14,200 79.2 20.6
1988 6,504,500 4,762,200 1,729,500 12,800 73.2 26.6
1989 6,879,700 4,729,000 2,136,900 13,900 68.7 31.1
1990 7,167,200 4,664,600 2,492,200 10,400 65.1 34.8
1991 7,223,900 4,563,300 2,654,500 6,100 63.2 36.8
1992 6,909,700 4,226,700 2,681,200 1,800 61.2 38.8
1993 6,570,900 4,092,000 2,477,000 1,800 62.3 37.7
1994 6,567,900 3,988,000 2,576,900 3,000 60.7 39.2
1995 6,821,400 4,038,600 2,777,900 5,000 59.2 40.7
1996 7,047,900 4,258,400 2,784,200 5,300 60.4 39.5
1997 7,450,000 4,549,800 2,888,400 11,800 61.1 38.8
1998 7,931,500 4,964,600 2,954,500 12,300 62.6 37.3
1999 8,581,700 5,467,400 3,114,300 - 63.7 36.3
2000 9,169,200 5,959,900 3,209,300 - 65.0 35.0
2001 1st quarter 9,287,400 6,083,800 3,203,600 - 65.5 34.5
2001 2nd quarter 9,353,400 6,146,500 3,206,900 - 65.7 34.3
Average 2001 9,320,400 6,115,200 3,205,300 - 65.6 34.4
General average 7,309,300 4,703,300 2,599,300 6,700 64.4 35.6

Source: drawn up by author from INE Survey of the Active Population (Encuesta de Población Activa, EPA).

Developments from 1987 to 2001 in the public sector are shown in table 3 below.

Table 3. Employees in the public sector, by status, 1987-2001
Annual average Total Permanent Temporary Unclassified % permanent % temporary
1987 1,800,200 1,629,800 170,100 400 90.5 9.5
1988 1,846,900 1,629,800 216,900 300 88.2 11.7
1989 1,999,900 1,740,400 258,900 500 87.0 13.0
1990 2,106,100 1,788,200 317,700 300 84.9 15.1
1991 2,148,900 1,775,300 372,900 700 82.6 17.4
1992 2,166,500 1,807,600 358,300 600 83.4 16.5
1993 2,114,700 1,784,500 329,700 400 84.4 15.6
1994 2,058,300 1,720,400 337,600 400 83.6 16.4
1995 2,121,500 1,781,800 339,200 500 84.0 16.0
1996 2,236,200 1,883,200 352,200 800 84.2 15.8
1997 2,259,000 1,892,100 366,000 900 83.8 16.2
1998 2,225,000 1,826,300 397,800 900 82.1 17.9
1999 2,254,900 1,814,100 440,800 - 80.5 19.6
2000 2,339,700 1,870,100 469,700 - 79.9 20.1
2001 1st quarter 2,331,000 1,870,500 460,500 - 80.2 19.8
2001 2nd quarter 2,342,600 1,867,000 475,600 - 79.7 20.3
2001 2,336,800 1,868,800 468,100 - 80.0 20.0
General average 2,133,100 1,787,400 345,200 500 83.8 16.2

The above figures indicate the trend in temporary employment among men and women combined. However, the rate of temporary employment is higher among women (ES0109201F), and though there is a slight tendency to convergence, the difference has been maintained since 1987. In 2001, the rate stood at 34.03% for women and 29.85% for men. In the private sector, while there has been a slight overall decrease in temporary employment since 1985, the rate has consistently been four to five percentage points higher among women than among men - in 2001, the temporary employment rate stood at 37.15% for women and 32.64% for men. In the public sector, the rate of both male and female temporary employment has risen since 1996 (though from a lower level than in the private sector) with a substantial gap between women and men being maintained - the gap stood at around 10 percentage points in 1996 and had risen to 13 points by 2001 (a rate of 19.03% for men and 32.93% for women).

Agreement on employment stability

In April 1997, an intersectoral agreement aimed at promoting employment stability was signed by the main central employers' organisations and trade union confederations (ES9706211F). From the conclusion of this agreement to the end of 2000, the overall rate of temporary employment fell by 1.5 percentage points from 33.6% of employees to 32.1%.

However, while temporary employment has generally fallen in the private sector since the April 1997 agreement, in the public sector it has shown the opposite tendency. Temporary employment has fallen by 3.8 percentage points in the private sector since the conclusion of the agreement, whereas in the public sector it has increased by 3.9 points, reflecting the government's current policy for the public administration. Overall, the temporary employment rate is four points higher among women than among men. The fall in temporary employment has also been greater among men than among women.

Social partners' positions

With regard to the regulation of temporary employment, trade unions have welcomed the transposition of the 1999 EU Directive (1999/70/EC) on fixed-term work (EU9901147F), though some of its principles were already in force in Spanish legislation. The government included other aspects of the Directive in its labour market reform legislation in March 2001 (ES0103237F), such as the principle of equal treatment for workers on fixed-term and open-ended contracts, and the right for the former to be informed of vacancies. However, the unions criticise the Spanish government for placing no limit on the length or number of fixed-term contracts in order to avoid abuses in the use of successive contracts. The only addition to the legislation was that collective agreements at sectoral or company level may establish criteria regarding this point.

The employers' organisations are in favour of balancing human resources management flexibly between temporary and permanent employment in order to foster economic growth, investment and job creation. In order to foster stability in female employment they propose that women, who currently have the status of an 'under-represented' group in employment, should be included in the special groups which the law makes it cheaper to dismiss (ES0012226F), thus making it more attractive to recruit women. From a wider viewpoint, employers believe that reducing the cost of dismissal for all types of permanent contract would make it more attractive to recruit permanent workers.

Commentary

The persistently overall high rate of temporary employment in Spain may be related to the policy of subcontracting of many activities by companies, and also to the growth of temporary employment in the public sector in the last five years. The public sector is a major employer of women, but it tends to employ more women than men on temporary contracts. In the private sector, on the other hand, temporary employment has fallen in the past few years. (Daniel Albarracín, Fundació CIREM)

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