Social Integration Through Transitional Labour Markets
Labour Markets and Employment Policy series
Edited by Jacqueline O’Reilly, Inmaculada Cebrián and Michel Lallement
Chapter 2: Working time, social integration and transitional labour markets
Colette Fagan and Michel Lallement Working time has always been one of the key dimensions deﬁning the quality of the employment relationship. Ever since the early days of industrialization, the organization and control of working time has been central to innovations in the production process as well as lying at the heart of collective bargaining and labour regulation. European labour markets are currently undergoing a period of signiﬁcant working-time restructuring in the quest for operational ﬂexibility and the development of new tasks and forms of working associated with innovations in information and communication technologies. This restructuring has been largely initiated and driven by employers’ requirements since the 1980s, whereas the previous period was dominated by a long-term reduction in working hours achieved mainly through the efforts of the unions (Bosch et al. 1994). Nevertheless, the unions and the state are still important actors in this renegotiation of working time. One policy objective that has grown in prominence with the persistence of high levels of unemployment is work-sharing, which is achieved through working-time reductions, the promotion of part-time work and, more recently in some countries, the introduction of extended leave covered by recruitment of replacement employees.1 Another factor is the fact that the increased proportion of women in the labour market has stimulated debate about the role of working-time arrangements in improving the interface between employment and domestic care responsibilities (through part-time work, extended leave arrangements and more ﬂexible hours). Common to debates about worksharing and ‘family-friendly’ working time...
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