Across Europe, new forms of employment are emerging that are different from traditional standard or non-standard employment in a number of ways. Some transform the relationship between employer and employee, some change work organisation and work patterns, and some do both. This report identifies nine forms of employment that are new or have become increasingly important in Europe since the year 2000. While there is wide diversity in terms of their characteristics and employment relationship, all the forms aim to increase flexibility for employers and/or employees. Although some have the potential to benefit employers and employees equally, in a few cases concerns have been raised about their impact on working conditions and the labour market. The report concludes with recommendations about the need to raise awareness of the potential problems and establish safety nets for workers.
This project identified the following employment forms as new or of increasing importance since around the year 2000:
- employee sharing, where an individual worker is jointly hired by a group of employers to meet the HR needs of various companies, resulting in permanent full-time employment for the worker;
- job sharing, where an employer hires two or more workers to jointly fill a specific job, combining two or more part-time jobs into a full- time position;
- interim management, in which highly skilled experts are hired temporarily for a specific project or to solve a specific problem, thereby integrating external management capacities in the work organisation;
- casual work, where an employer is not obliged to regularly provide work to the employee, but has the flexibility of calling them in on demand;
- ICT-based mobile work, where workers can do their job from any place at any time, supported by modern technologies;
- voucher-based work, where the employment relationship is based on payment for services with a voucher purchased from an authorised organisation that covers both pay and social security contributions;
- portfolio work, where a self-employed individual works for a large number of clients, doing small- scale jobs for each of them;
- crowd employment, where an online platform matches employers and workers, often with larger tasks being split up and divided among a ‘virtual cloud’ of workers;
- collaborative employment, where freelancers, the self-employed or micro enterprises cooperate in some way to overcome limitations of size and professional isolation.
These wide-ranging new employment forms have an equally wide range of implications for working conditions and the labour market.
- Employee sharing, job sharing and interim management seem to offer beneficial working conditions, combining enhanced flexibility for workers with a good level of job security.
- ICT-based mobile work offers some flexibility, autonomy and empowerment, but also incurs the danger of work intensification, increased stress levels and working time, and blurring of the boundaries between work and private life. It may also outsource traditional employer responsibilities, such as health and safety protection, to workers.
- For freelancers and the self-employed, portfolio work, crowd employment and collaborative employment may enrich work content through diversification.
- Voucher-based work entails some job insecurity, social and professional isolation, and limited access to HR measures and career development, but offers workers the opportunity to work legally, better social protection and perhaps better pay.
- Casual work is characterised by low income, job insecurity, poor social protection and little or no access to HR benefits. The high level of flexibility might benefit some workers, but for most it is too much and they would prefer more continuity.
Those forms that seem most likely to be beneficial to the labour market are employee sharing, job sharing and interim management, while casual work is likely to be the most disadvantageous. All of the new employment forms have the potential to aid labour market integration of specific groups of workers, but their job creation potential is rather limited.
Most of these employment forms contribute to labour market innovation and make it more attractive to both employers and a wider range of potential workers. However, there is a danger of labour market segmentation, particularly from casual work and voucher-based work, if the result is a widespread acceptance of fragmented jobs that are inherently linked to low income and limited social protection.