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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.
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Chapter 7: Flexible employment in the USA

Kay McGlashan, Rebecca Ellis and Doug Glasgow


Kay McGlashan, Rebecca Ellis and Doug Glasgow INTRODUCTION In this chapter, we examine the state of contingent and alternative work in the United States. The situation in the USA is not necessarily an increase in flexible work, but a significant change in the way that work is being arranged (Micco, 1999). Employee–employer contracts are more varied in design than the typical permanent work contract. The USA has also seen a tremendous growth in staffing services and alternative work agencies (that is, temporary help agencies, independent contracting firms, outsourcing), as a result of a changed ‘mindset’ about employment in the USA. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in February 2001 approximately 4 per cent of workers considered themselves to be contingent workers, and 9.4 per cent considered themselves to be in alternative employment arrangements. We first examine the larger labour market context in the USA, including a discussion of the general economic and employment trends during the 1990s. We then describe the institutional framework, including industrial relations and the legal framework and regulations surrounding employment. Next we turn to an in-depth examination of the existing data on the demand for alternative employment (that is, the distribution of these arrangements across general industry and occupational categories), as well as the supply of alternative employment (that is, demographic characteristics of gender, race, age, education, full-time versus part-time status, wages and benefits, and worker preferences regarding employment arrangements). These data are taken from the special supplements to the...

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