Managing social risks of non-standard employment in Europe

This study analyses the extent, structure and development of non-standard employment (NSE) in Europe as well as its consequences on economic performance and social inclusion. In this study, we follow the definition of NSE used by the ILO, which includes part-time work, temporary work (fixed or project based contracts, casual labour, minijobs or even zero-hour contracts), triangular employment relationships through temporary agencies or subcontracting companies, but also include self-employment. Self-employment is a still a relatively small employment category in Europe when compared with wage employment, but it has nonetheless risen recently. Its rise should be understood within the context of the diversification of work, in particular own-account work. Given the growth of NSE across the globe, it is important to ascertain its effects on workers’ protection, enterprises’ development and overall labour market and economic performance. Workers in non-standard employment often have low job tenure and are more likely to transit in and out of the labour market with respective high risk of low pay, (in-work) poverty, unemployment, which erodes employability and exacerbates the likelihood of precarious employment careers over their life course. As these workers are more likely than ‘standard workers’ to have interrupted or even no social insurance contribution records, their entitlement to benefits in case of unemployment, illness, maternity, disability and old age are also negatively affected.

Schmid, G. and Wagner, J. (2017), 'Managing social risks of non-standard employment in Europe,' Conditions of work and Employment Working Paper series, No. 91, ILO (International Labour Office), Geneva.


  • Research publication
  • EU28
  • Yes
  • no specific sector focus
  • social protection, employment status
  • English
  • ILO (International Labour Organisation) (Research institute)
  • Qualitative research
  • 2017
  • Open access
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