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 9: Conclusions: contingent employment in Europe and the fexibility-security trade-off

Donald Storrie

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


9. Conclusions: contingent employment in Europe and the flexibility–security trade-off Donald Storrie INTRODUCTION This final chapter is devoted to underlining the main points made in the country chapters and attempting to generalize the developments in the six countries to developments in the other member states of the European Union. Focus is first placed on the general systems of labour law in the six countries and how they have evolved in the 1990s as regards the regulation of contingent employment. We then explore possible links between the growth of contingent employment (mainly limited duration contracts) and regulation. We also relate the growth of limited duration contracts to the state of the labour market. However, of the various forms of contingent employment examined in this volume we would argue that temporary agency work is of most interest and worth special attention in this final chapter. There are several reasons for this. It was by far the most rapidly growing form of contingent employment in the 1990s and research on agency work is relatively limited. It is also conceptually a very interesting contractual form, being a hybrid of an employment and commercial contract. From a policy perspective, it was the object of much legislation during the 1990s and as this volume goes to press we await the fate of a directive on agency work currently before the European Parliament.1 Furthermore, if appropriately regulated, agency work may provide some reconciliation in what is perhaps the major conflict between employer and worker interests...

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