Labour Markets and Employment Policy series
Edited by Jacqueline O’Reilly
Chapter 7: Working-time flexibility in Ireland
7. Working-time ﬂexibility in Ireland Philip J. O’Connell, Frances McGinnity and Helen Russell Over the course of the 1990s, the Irish economy was transformed from a position of recession and high and persistent unemployment to one of rapid growth and near-full employment (Nolan et al. 2000). This transformation has meant that policy concerns have shifted quite suddenly from reducing unemployment at the end of the 1980s to responding to labour shortages at the turn of the century. This change in emphasis has meant that working-time policies are regarded less as instruments of job creation than as methods of increasing labour supply. These policies can be assessed in terms of their contribution to labour supply, but also, more broadly, in terms of their impact on atypical working as well as their impact in promoting social integration. The extent of atypical working, including both part-time work and temporary contracts, has increased in Ireland over the past decade or so. The share of part-time working increased from 8 per cent of total employment in 1990 to over 12 per cent in 1997, and to over 16 per cent in 2000, although, as noted below, there was a change in measurement of part-time work after 1997, which makes it diﬃcult to establish time trends in the late 1990s. The incidence of ﬁxed-term contracts also increased somewhat, from 8.5 per cent in 1990 to 9.4 per cent in 1997. Average overall working hours also fell over the 1990s. In these respects, Ireland participates in...
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