Transforming European Employment Policy

Transforming European Employment Policy

Labour Market Transitions and the Promotion of Capability

Edited by Ralf Rogowski, Robert Salais and Noel Whiteside

Since the mid 1990s, the focus of European employment and social policy has shifted from protection to promotion. This book provides a timely analysis of this new form of governance, and the new forms of policy delivery and audit which accompany it.

Chapter 6: Making Employees’ Pathways More Secure: A Critical Examination of the Company’s Responsibility

Bénédicte Zimmermann

Subjects: law - academic, european law, law and society, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, labour policy


Bénédicte Zimmermann Flexibility…is about successful moves (‘transitions’) during one’s life course: from school to work, from one job to another, between unemployment or inactivity and work, and from work to retirement … It is about progress of workers into better jobs, ‘upward mobility’ and optimal development of talent. (European Commission, 2007: 5) In the 2007 Communication Towards Common Principles of Flexicurity cited above, the European Commission defined EU flexicurity policy as ‘an integrated strategy to enhance, at the same time, flexibility and security in the labour market.’ These Communication excerpts clearly indicate that flexicurity is not meant merely to combine flexibility and security but also to transform flexibility itself, turning it into a two-way process that will be equally beneficial to employers and employees and in which not only free enterprise but also freedom to work and develop at work become fundamental values and goals. To this end, the Commission identified four components as essential for any EU flexicurity policy: 1) ‘Flexible and reliable contractual arrangements … through modern labour laws, collective agreements and work organisation’; 2) ‘Comprehensive lifelong learning strategies to ensure the continual adaptability and employability of workers’; 3) ‘Effective active labour market policies that help people cope with rapid change’; and 4) ‘Modern social security systems that provide adequate income support, encourage employment and facilitate labour market mobility’ (European Commission, 2007: 6). These components are centred on employment and labour market policy, i.e., the legal and institutional dimensions of flexicurity; they leave aside the issue of...

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