New forms of employment

30 June 2021

Social, economic and technological changes in Europe have given rise to new forms of employment across Europe. Many of these are very different from traditional ‘work’. They transform the traditional one-to-one relationship between employer and employee. They are also characterised by unconventional work patterns and places of work.

Policymakers in the EU are interested in how these new forms of employment can help to build a more flexible and inclusive labour market. Discussion also revolves around how to legalise undeclared employment practices and how to ensure adequate social protection and acceptable working conditions. Of key importance in the debate is how to avoid a situation where these new employment forms are less favourable to workers than more established types of employment.

The European Commission raised the issue of working conditions in its background note for the Tripartite Social Forum in 2011 on the implementation of the Europe 2020 flagship initiative ‘Agenda for new skills and jobs’. In its 2012 Communication ‘Towards a job-rich recovery’, the Commission highlighted its priority to restore the dynamics of labour markets. In line with this priority, Eurofound launched a project to map new forms of employment across the European Union and Norway.

Eurofound’s work

To fill existing knowledge gaps, in 2013 Eurofound began to explore the characteristics of emerging forms of employment in EU Member States. The research also looked at the implications for working conditions and the labour market.

Key contributions

Eurofound conducted a Europe-wide mapping exercise to identify emerging trends. This exercise led to the categorisation of nine broad types of new employment forms that are new or have become increasingly important in European Member States since 2000. A range of case studies, carried out as part of the study, show how these new employment forms operate in Member States and their effects on working conditions and the labour market.

Eurofound continues to examine in more detail some of the new trends identified. Research in 2016 looked in particular at the win–win potential of strategic employee sharing for both employers and employees.

A joint study by Eurofound and the International Labour Organization (ILO) analyses the effects of telework and ICT-mobile work (T/ICTM) on the world of work. 


Ongoing work

  • Exploring potential scenarios related to platform work


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