Contingent Employment in Europe and the United States

Contingent Employment in Europe and the United States

Edited by Ola Bergström and Donald Storrie

Contingent Employment in Europe and the United States examines the developments in labour markets in advanced economies in the 21st century, as regards contingent employment. This is defined as employment relationships that can be terminated with minimal costs within a predetermined period of time. This includes fixed-term contracts, temporary agency work and self-employment. Contingent employment has been the subject of much legislative activity in the last decade, at both the national and European level. Temporary agency work, in particular, has recently been extensively deregulated in most European countries and currently we await the fate of a proposed EU directive on agency work. The book is therefore highly topical.

Chapter 4: The regulation and growth of contingent employment in Sweden

Donald Storrie

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, social policy and sociology, labour policy


Donald Storrie1 INTRODUCTION The 1990s were traumatic times in the Swedish labour market. The first quarter of the decade saw massive job loss and a quadrupling of the unemployment rate. This, together with a 25 per cent depreciation of the currency, led to the perception of a country, and a model of the labour market, in crisis. However, later in the decade, the economy recovered dramatically and in the later years employment growth was as rapid as at any time since the Second World War and unemployment fell steadily, down to around 4 per cent by the end of the decade. Institutional changes preceded the economic crisis of the early 1990s. The 1980s saw a gradual erosion of some key features of the Swedish model, and in particular centralized collective bargaining. However, these changes should not be exaggerated. Important elements of the model remain. Of most importance in the context of this chapter is that the collective bargain retained its coverage over a wider range of issues and sectors of the labour market than in perhaps any other country. Union density remained high, around 90 per cent. While the welfare state has seen appreciable cut-backs in some areas, the basic principle of a universal system of social welfare remains. Recent years have even seen some renewed coordination in collective bargaining by the social partners. The framework for the regulation of the employment contract and industrial relations based on the laws of the 1970s also remains largely intact. However, there have...

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