Labour market change

Labour market change: Trends and policy approaches towards flexibilisation

Flagship report
Published
16 April 2020
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Executive summary in 22 languages

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Key findings

  • Prior to the unfolding of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, Europe’s labour market recovery was bringing the EU employment rate close to its EU2020 target of 75%. Although unique in its specific nature, lessons from previous crisis have shown that retaining workers’ attachment to the labour market and, where possible, enhancing skills are important ways to ensure a rapid recovery.
  • Employment growth has been consistently weakest in mid-paid jobs – most noticeably during recessions – and consistently strongest in well-paid jobs.
  • Stability in levels of atypical work is masking a rise in precarious work for certain groups where growing numbers of workers are on ‘other’ or ‘no contracts’.
  • The growth of different types of non-standard contracts is leading to deeper divisions in EU labour markets between well-protected workers and those with limited access to social protection and employment rights. This is particularly the case for the growing numbers of those in ‘compound non-standard’ employment (having a mix of non-standard work statuses: for example, temporary and part-time, self-employed and part-time).
  • The current rise in precarious jobs will require policy solutions to support workers with limited access to social protection and representation. This is all the more relevant in the context of the emerging impact of the coronavirus outbreak, which poses particular existential risks to many precarious and self-employed workers.

Abstract

What have been the major trends and policy developments regarding the flexibilisation of employment in recent years? Eurofound’s work programme for 2017–2020 set out to document and capture these changes in the world of work. This flagship publication provides an overview of developments in Europe in the wake of the global financial crisis, as well as mapping the ongoing challenges and policy approaches taken at EU and national levels to find the right balance between flexibility and security in the labour market. Based, in part, on European Working Conditions Survey data, the findings of this report map labour market changes between 2008 and 2018 with a specific focus on working time, contract type and employment status. 

  • Full report

    Number of Pages: 
    76
    Reference No: 
    EF19034
    ISBN: 
    978-92-897-2058-8
    Catalogue: 
    TJ-03-20-105-EN-N
    DOI: 
    10.2806/70018
    Catalogue info

    Labour market change: Trends and policy approaches towards flexibilisation

    This flagship publication provides an overview of developments in Europe in the wake of the global financial crisis, as well as mapping the ongoing challenges and policy approaches taken at EU and national levels to find the right balance between flexibility and security in the labour market.

     

    Research carried out prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, and published subsequently, may include data relating to the 28 EU Member States. Following this date, research only takes into account the 27 EU Member States (EU28 minus the UK), unless specified otherwise.

    This report presents the results of research conducted prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe in February 2020. For this reason, the results do not take account of the outbreak.

    Available formats

    • Download full reportPDF
    Cite this publication as: 
    Eurofound (2020), Labour market change: Trends and policy approaches towards flexibilisation, Challenges and prospects in the EU series, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
  • Executive summary

    Reference No: 
    EF19034EN1
    Catalogue info

    Labour market change: Trends and policy approaches towards flexibilisation - Flagship perspectives

    Authors: 
    Eurofound

    This flagship report addresses trends and policy developments in relation to the flexibilisation of employment in the EU between 2008 and 2018. Labour markets in the EU are diversifying in terms of working time patterns and the nature of employment relationships. These changes are driven by socioeconomic trends, such as the shift to a service-based economy and the growing share of women in work, as well as technological developments. In addition, labour markets are responding to the needs of workers for employment that fits in with their non-work activities and to the demands of employers for flexible labour inputs – a consequence of enhanced global competition.

    Available in 22 languages for download

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  • Supporting documents

  • Data

    As background for this report, Eurofound compiled data showing how the share of specific flexible labour market indicators developed from 2008 to 2018.

    Figures

    • Figure 1: Relationship between megatrends, effects and impacts on the labour market, and policy interventions
    • Figure 2: Employment shifts by job-wage quintile, 1998–2018, EU27 and the UK (average per annum % change)
    • Figure 3: Standard employment share, 2008–2018, EU Member States and the UK (%)
    • Figure 4: Employment rate change and change in the standard or ‘core’ employment share, 2008–2018, EU Member States and the UK (percentage points)
    • Figure 5: Net employment change, by contract and employment status, 2011–2016, EU Member States and the UK (000s)
    • Figure 6: Share of different types of non-standard employment, 2018, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 7: Standard employment share of total employment, by gender, 2018, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 8: Shifts in the composition of non-standard employment, 2008–2018, EU Member States and the UK (percentage points)
    • Figure 9: Non-standard employment shares, 2005–2018, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 10: In-work AROP rate of employees according to status, by country, 2017 (%)
    • Figure 11: Share of different types of platform workers in 15 Member States and the UK, 2017 and 2018 (%)
    • Figure 12: Part-time employment share by gender and age, 2008 and 2018, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 13: Comparison of full-time and part-time work along job quality indices, 2015, EU27 and the UK
    • Figure 14: Change in share of workers with low weekly hours (up to 20 hours) by Member State and the UK, and gender, 2008–2018 (percentage points)
    • Figure 15: Low-hours part-time share of employment by sector and gender, 2018, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 16: Incidence of multiple job holding, by employment status and contract type in main job, 2008 and 2018, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 17: Involuntary part-time share, by gender, 2008–2018, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 18a: Relationship between unemployment rate and involuntary part-time employment rate, 2018, EU27 and the UK
    • Figure 18b: Relationship between part-time employment rate and involuntary part-time employment rate, 2018, EU27 and the UK
    • Figure 19: Workers reporting more than 48 working hours per week, by type of work arrangement, 2015, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 20: Change in temporary employment share by country, 2008–2018, EU27 and the UK
    • Figure 21a: Temporary employment share by age, 2008 and 2018, EU27 and the UK
    • Figure 21b: Temporary employment share by tenure, 2008 and 2018, EU27 and the UK
    • Figure 22: Reasons for temporary contract, 2018, EU27 and the UK (% of age group)
    • Figure 23: Temporary contract duration, 2008 and 2018, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 24: Share of temporary employment and transition rate from temporary to permanent contract, by country, 2015–2016, EU Member States and the UK (%)
    • Figure 25: Transition rates from temporary to permanent employment, by age group and country, 2015–2016, EU Member States and the UK (%)
    • Figure 26: Uptake of training by employment status, 2000–2015, EU27 and the UK (% of workers)
    • Figure 27: Number of country-specific recommendations linked to employment protection legislation, by country, 2014–2019, EU27 and the UK
    • Figure 28: Main reasons for self-employment, 2015, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Figure 29: Hierarchy/market dichotomy applied to five types of platform work

    Tables

    • Table 1: Key trends in employment composition by gender, age, education level and sector, 2008–2018, EU Member States and the UK
    • Table 2: Shifts in employment composition by broad sector and occupation group/skills level, 2011–2018, EU27 and the UK (percentage point change)
    • Table 3: Share of non-standard workers not covered by social benefit schemes, 2014, EU27 and the UK (%)
    • Table 4: Most common types of platform work, 2017, EU27 and the UK
    • Table 5: Incidence of casual work in selected EU Member States and the UK
    • Table 6: Existing provisions on the right to request a move from part-time to full-time employment or additional hours, selected EU Member States and the UK
    • Table 7: Summary of challenges, impacts, issues arising and possible solutions related to flexible working time
    • Table 8: Measures taken to restrict the use of fixed-term contracts, 2008–2017, EU Member States
    • Table 9: Summary of challenges, impact, issues arising and possible solutions linked to temporary employment
    • Table 10: Self-employment by broad sector and gender, and gender gaps, 2008 and 2017, EU27 and the UK
    • Table 11: Preferred and actual employment status, 2017, EU27 and the UK (% of workers)
    • Table 12: Types of national measures introduced to support self-employment
    • Table 13: Statutory access to social protection for self-employed in the EU27 and the UK, 2017
    • Table 14: Summary of challenges, impacts, issues arising and possible solutions linked to self-employment
  • Flagship resources

Part of the series

  • Challenges and prospects in the EU

    Eurofound’s Flagship report series 'Challenges and prospects in the EU' comprise research reports that contain the key results of multiannual research activities and incorporate findings from different related research projects. Flagship reports are the major output of each of Eurofound’s strategic areas of intervention and have as their objective to contribute to current policy debates.

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