Labour Markets and Employment Policy series
Edited by Jacqueline O’Reilly
Chapter 1: Introduction
Jacqueline O’Reilly Labour market regulation has received considerable political as well as academic attention in the past twenty years. Controversy has focused on whether regulations need to be abandoned or loosened so as to boost employment, or whether they should be made more restrictive to avoid undesirable practices. Essentially some of these conclusions come down to a political position taken by neoliberals and their critiques. Neoliberals tend to be in favour of a general removal of what they call ‘restrictive practices’. Their critics give more emphasis to the need to modernize and adapt existing forms of regulation to meet the changing structure of most modern labour markets. This implies, amongst other things, taking account of the growing use of non-standard employment, reductions in standard working hours, working time ﬂexibility and the increase of female participation in paid work. These changes in the organization of work have implications for existing policy prerequisites and current reforms initiated in relation to welfare entitlements across a number of areas aﬀecting entry and exit to the labour market, for example, such as unemployment beneﬁts, pensions and parental leave. The transitional labour market approach sets out to address these issues in the context of high levels of European unemployment. The growth of unemployment means that more people are likely to experience interrupted working careers and therefore make more transitions between diﬀerent employment statuses. One of the key issues for the examination of transitional labour markets (Schmid, 2002) is the extent to which people...