Challenges & Contradictions in the 'Normalization' of Flexible Labor Markets

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    • 00:00


    • 00:09

      DR. JILL RUBERY: Thanks very much.And thank you very much to the conference organizers,Jenny and Mark and others, for inviting me.It's a great pleasure to speak at this conference.[Dr. Jill Rubery, Professor of Comparative Employment Systems,University of Manchester]Today I'm going to be drawing on some joint work coordinatedby Damian Grimshaw from Manchester, whichis a European project on reducing precarious work

    • 00:33

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: through social dialogue.Unfortunately, I won't be talkingabout the social dialogue part so much today,because I'm really going to be talkingabout the first part of the project,and the second part is more looking at specific instancesof how social dialogue helps.I'll also be drawing on some earlier workthat I'd started for both the World Bank and the ILO

    • 00:56

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: on the issues of regulating labor markets.And I got into this debate partlybecause of out of frustration and irritation, I guess,with the convergence from different disciplinesand different political perspectiveson the notion of insider outsiders as the sort of core

    • 01:17

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: way in which we think about regulation and labor marketsegmentation.We find that not only amongst, if you like,mainstream economists and their associated policymakersin Brussels who are still talkingabout needing to cut employment regulation and segmentation,

    • 01:38

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: but also in political science from the likes of DavidRueda, who sees employment regulation as primarilydriven by political attention to the interestsof the median voter.And we also see it in more left of center,if you like, approaches by Guy Standingand Leah Vosko concerned about the rise of the new, what they

    • 02:00

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: call the new precariate, and the needto regulate for the interests of thosewho are currently excluded.Now in my irritation, I'm not by any meanssuggesting that the issue of the new precariate,or people in precarious jobs, is not an important issuethat we need to address.But I have four main problems with this approach.

    • 02:24

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: The first is a totally simplistic viewof segmentation of the labor market, where thereis one divide between the insiders and the outsiders,rather than a whole raft of divisions within the insider,if you like, group in the labor market,and indeed amongst outsiders.

    • 02:46

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: The second issue is that we're not necessarilymoving towards what has been often takenas a new stable equilibrium.This is also found in the work of peoplelike Palier and Thelen on dualism in France and Germany.Instead of it being a new stable divisionbetween protected and unprotected,

    • 03:07

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: we actually have a situation in whichthe growth of the nonstandard forms of employmentis actually used often to erode the rights of thosewho are insiders.So we need to look at it in a more dynamic way.But the third argument, the third problemI have, and it's probably the most fundamental,is that in this debate the role of capital

    • 03:29

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: and the role of their agents, if you like, employers,in the growth of nonstandard forms of employmenthas disappeared.And we have sort of moved away from the notionthat we actually should or are able to regulate employers.And regulating employers is importantfor my fourth problem, which is the factthat employment regulation serves multiple functions.

    • 03:54

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: Many of the people talking from a more progressive perspectiveon the insider outsiders are looking for,what it seems to me, over-simplistic solutions,such as basic income, to replace employment regulation.Or in the words of Stone and Arthurs,who've looked at the end of the standard employmentrelationship, relying on eclectic new formsof organization, while at the same time

    • 04:16

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: declaring that the standard employment relationship isdead.So what we are arguing for, the current,is a more integrated analysis of regulation,with the aim of promoting more inclusive labor markets.Clearly we do need to deal with the nonstandard formsof employment and their impact on the extent to which labor

    • 04:40

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: markets are regulated.But we need to do this in a contextwhere we remember about the multiple forms of protectionthat we need.And we need to find ways of continuing to empower workersin the labor market.And I'll come later to why I don't think the basic income issufficient here.And it's really linked to the second point

    • 05:02

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: here of re-establishing responsibilities of employers,and a role for social dialogue in the shaping of labormarkets.This maybe seem very ambitious.But I think we have to be ambitious.I think at the moment we are in danger of conceding defeatto the flexible labor markets, and giving up on what we need

    • 05:23

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: to do to regulate employment.And that is partly coming from the context of the UnitedKingdom, which is very difficult to find anything tooprogressive to say about it.But this project that I'm drawing oncovers a range of different countries--the UK, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, and Slovenia.

    • 05:45

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And we can see from this slide that actually these cover,if you like, the main categories of countries within Europe--different varieties of capitalism, different industryrelations regimes, different welfare state regimes,and different gender regimes.We won't have much time today to go into the details of that.

    • 06:08

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And it does matter, because obviouslythe degree of protection for the standard employmentrelationship varies considerably across these countries.And also the different challengesfor what you can do about nonstandard forms of employmentalso varies according to these different regimes.But I think you can say that in all countries,with possibly the UK the exception,

    • 06:29

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: there is still some notion of the standard employmentrelationship that aids decommodification of labor.And it is possible, and I share to some extentthe reason for presenting the standard employmentrelationship as something that has

    • 06:50

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: privileged particular groups in the labor market-- particularlymale, full-time, continuous employees.But it seems to me that it's moreimportant in the current conjunctureto see the standard employment relationship as a vital partof the decommodification of labor, for reasonsthat I'll explain in a minute.

    • 07:12

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: For me, decommodification impliessome degree of empowerment and independence from the market.And in order to sort of think about whatit is we really want for people in nonstandard formsof employment, and for people in the standard employmentrelationship, I've suggested that weshould adopt what I've called here the SOFL framework, where

    • 07:32

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: we recognize that what we want is securityin the form of income and work, because this empowers peopleto be able to plan their lives.We need opportunity, because this provides peoplewith options, and doesn't tie themto one situation in the labor market.We need fair treatment at work, which empowers people

    • 07:55

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: through providing dignity.And we need life beyond work, so that sometimeswork can be subordinate to life, and notalways life subordinate to work.So this is the framework adopted.And here I'm going to compare the standard employmentrelationship to nonstandard forms of employment.

    • 08:16

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And it won't surprise you that most nonstandard formsof employment score less well on all these dimensionsthan the standard employment relationship.The standard employment relationshipis particularly known for guaranteeingwage income, a wage level, a wage structure,a volume of work, and a continuity of work,as well as access to social protection.

    • 08:37

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: Now if we take nonstandard forms of employmentto include temporary employment, agency work, part time,dependent self-employment, and the like,we can see that this is often missingin different dimensions.There is low pay, short on certain hours,insecure duration, and low access to social protection.

    • 08:58

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: When we turn to opportunity, it's also the casethat the standard employment relationshipdoes provide opportunity in the labor market.It often provides training and development.And it may provide opportunities to progresswithin an internal labor market, or in some contexts,also the opportunity to move between organizations

    • 09:18

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: with recognized qualifications.And that is often missing in nonstandard formsof employment.Actual training of workers is often very low.But one thing I should've pointed out, in thisis where you see the purple it's good,and when you see the red it's kindof bad in reading these slides.What we find here is the, what I would say,

    • 09:39

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: the first Achilles heel of the standard employmentrelationship.And that is its tendency to restrict accessto those pursuing often full-time,but certainly linear types of careers.And this is where nonstandard forms of employmentmay come in, because it offers opportunities for peopleto take up non-linear careers, shorter,

    • 10:02

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: or intermittent employment.But the problem, it does this at a high cost.It does this often with employers using thisas a way of opting out of all the other guaranteesof the standard employment relationship.When we come to fair treatment at work,we find a similar sort of polarization.There are very limited reasons to expect people

    • 10:23

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: on nonstandard forms of employmentto have better treatment in work, better employmentrights or enforcement, or voice, or collective bargaining,than those on a standard employment relationship.But when we come to life beyond work,we again find a mixed picture-- and another Achilles heel.What we find is that the standard employmentrelationship does institutionalize a divide

    • 10:46

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: between work and non-work time.This is done through guaranteed hours, penaltiesif you have to work extra hours, rights notto work on social hours.Obviously these vary, but generally that's the principle.But what they're not very good at in a standard employmentrelationship is meshing, if you like,working time requirements with requirements

    • 11:10

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: for work outside of work, your life requirements, the schoolhours, the things you want to participatein that are not at work.And again, what you find is that in orderto get some flexibility over scheduling,often people have to accept a nonstandard formof employment-- but again at a price.

    • 11:33

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And furthermore, if you are in a nonstandard formsof employment, you often don't havethis sort of strict divide between worktime and non-work time.You may often have to spend large parts of your workingweek waiting for work, and agreeing to schedulesbeing changed at short notice.So to understand the growth of nonstandard forms

    • 11:55

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: of employment, we first have to see that it's partlya changing labor supply, and a demand for accessto employment on a nonstandard and nonlinear careers.So women with care commitment, students, older workers,and other factors have led to a greaterdemand for flexible hours and non-linear careers.

    • 12:18

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And also other dimensions, such as the growthof migrant workforce, has provided employerswith the opportunity to segment the workforce.So while there is an increased demand for the, if you like,gaps in the standard employment relationship--these two Achilles heels-- there'salso the opportunity for employersto use that to actually lower terms

    • 12:38

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: and conditions of employment.And so alongside the changing labor supply,we can also see that there's a shifting of risk by employersfirst to workers by increasing the porosity of the workingday, and extending and fragmenting working time,and segmenting the workforce to reduce pay, all of whichreduce labor costs, and potentially

    • 12:60

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: pass risks both to the workers, and indeed to the state.Because if you reduce not paid non-work time,or vary employment more regularly with demand ratherthan hoarding labor when demand goes down,you're effectively reducing employer's contributionto social reproduction, which may

    • 13:21

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: have to be made good by the state,as we will see later in the form of tax credits, for example.It's also the case that employersmay be limiting their own employer provided benefits,both not providing it to people on nonstandard formsof employment, and increasingly not providing themin the context of the UK to people on standard employmentrelationships.And employers also quite happy to take advantage

    • 13:43

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: of paying lower social security contributionsthrough the employment of nonstandard formsof employment.Now the employers are shifting risks to the state.But the state is not a neutral agent in this.They're also active in promoting nonstandard formsof employment, partly because it's clear

    • 14:06

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: that more and more work, particularly for those whoare unemployed, is nonstandard.And therefore in order to reduce welfare dependency through,they really have to require peopleto be willing to take up more nonstandard formsof employment.They're also engaged in promoting,as we all know, flexible labor markets

    • 14:28

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: as part of neo-liberal policy.But at the same time they also see flexible labor marketsas a response to the equality and diversity agenda.So what I'm trying to map out hereis that we have a whole range of diverse agendas leadingto the growth of nonstandard employment.But then these drivers also then impacton what I've called the drivers for normalization

    • 14:50

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: of nonstandard forms of employment.What I mean by normalization, I suppose it's instead of,if you like, in Anna Pollert's Farewell to Flexibility?in 1990, I don't think anybody's going to write a book calledFarewell to Flexibility?these days.I think we've kind of accepted that flexibility is hereto stay.And there is some forms of normalization

    • 15:10

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: of these forms of work going on, firstof all through in two ways.One is through inclusion-- greater inclusionin social protection and employment rights.And secondly, by widening what is an acceptable form of work,and so providing state support for peoplewho are taking jobs that are too low paidto guarantee their living.

    • 15:32

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: Or in extending the definition of employmentto include nonstandard forms of employmentfor those who are benefit claimants.Actually, I shall be expounding more on these later.And the reasons for this normalizationare partly the social drivers, the diversificationof the workforce, the pressure for social equity and genderequality, recognition that now we

    • 15:55

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: have in-work poverty, not simply out-of-work poverty,and recognition also that familiesare becoming more fragmented and lessable to plug any gaps in the system, if you like.Nonstandard employment-- particularly part-time work--were originally arose as sort of jobs for married women,and it was assumed that husbands or fathers or whatever

    • 16:15

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: would plug the gap.But that is no longer necessarily the case.But alongside that, we have the economic driversfor normalization.We have the European Union's flexicurity policiesthat I think we discussed a bit this morning.And these are, if you like, tryingto increase the ability of restructuring

    • 16:36

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: and flexible employment.And part of that may involve normalizationof the kind I'm referring to on both sides-- inclusionand widening acceptable forms of work.There's also the agenda for active labor markets,of reducing worklessness.And it can be a more strict increasing workfare

    • 16:57

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: and sanctions agenda.And again, nonstandard forms of employmenthave their role in that.And then there's this, if you like,the longer-term agenda, of maybe there's a policy of harmonizingor development, some harmonizationof rights for nonstandard forms of employment,with those in the SER.

    • 17:18

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: Let me call it that so I reduce the number of wordsI have to say.In the SER.But they often [INAUDIBLE] somewhat lowerlevel than in the SER.And then this can be used and we've seen it many times,as a justification for further downward pressureon the rights within the SER.So we get this dynamic interaction

    • 17:39

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: between improving rights for nonstandard formsof employment, but possibly then setting upthe case for reducing those for the privileged insiders.So I want now to use our current project to think aboutto what extent are we getting this normalization in the sense

    • 18:00

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: of greater inclusion, obviously at the same timealso looking at whether we're getting alsosome elements of greater exclusion.Because these changes are not all in one direction.And if we take security to start with,I've split this into social protection and wages.So if we think about social protection,I think the key issue here is whether or not

    • 18:22

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: social protection treats people in nonstandard formsof employment as a whole individual human being,and therefore requires a minimum level of benefit.Because people in non-standard forms of employmentstill have minimum needs for living.And what's interesting is that wefind that some countries have, most of our six countries have,

    • 18:46

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: high minimum benefit levels, or have minimum benefit levels.And for example Slovenia and SpainI think have been raising these.But Germany still has no minimum benefit level.There is no minimum benefit levelfor pensions or unemployment benefits in Germany.So quite different patterns.A second problem is getting access to social protection.

    • 19:08

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: Are there thresholds that nonstandard formsof employment, people in those forms of employment,are unlikely to be able to meet in earnings, hours,duration of employment.And again, some countries like France and Spain, for example,seem to have adjusted to the factthat they have lots of nonstandard forms of employmentby reducing the requirements for getting access,

    • 19:29

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: whereas others have made much more limited changes.And also on the inclusion of the self-employed.Again Germany I'm afraid falls rather badly here.There's no compulsory pension system for the self-employedin Germany.But there is in the other countries.

    • 19:50

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: Interest with respect to maternity leave.Three countries include those on self-employed, and three don't.So there's quite a lot of different patterns.I'm afraid I can't find my notes.So I can't remember all the different countries.But it's France, Slovenia, Denmark, I think,who have maternity leave for the self-employed.

    • 20:11

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And then there's the issue of access to social assistance.Because these people in nonstandard forms of employmentare much more likely to exhaust contributorybenefits, because they're less likely to have access to themin the first place, and more likely to havemore periods of unemployment.So long benefits can help.And thats how it ends in Denmark.And Spain has extended its benefits in the crisis to help.

    • 20:36

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: But Spain also has no guaranteed social assistance.It doesn't have a national system.And Denmark has increasingly strict rules.So if you fall foul of those long benefits,you really have major problems.I'm giving you some examples of why these things aredifficult to categorize.You may also want to level the playingfield for people in nonstandard forms of employment.

    • 20:58

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: They may be there because they'vespent a lot of time doing caring as mothers.So you may have care credits in your pension systems.You may have low thresholds and maternity leave for the young,because of problems of insecure and limited employment.And I again mention Spain here.You may also want to revalue the contributions made

    • 21:19

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: by part timers.When it comes to wage income, we have a similar issuethat we do need, if we want to have protectionfor nonstandard forms of employment,we need high minimum wages.And this is linked to living wage campaigns.And also like, for example, in Germanythere is now more extension of collective bargaining

    • 21:40

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: agreements to raise wages, as well asthe new national minimum wage.And in the in work tax credits is the main systemcoupled with the new national livingwage, if you like, in the UK, to improve matters in the UK.And I think it's worth noting this in the UKwe do extend minimum wages to workers-- at least legally.

    • 22:03

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And workers are what we know as dependent, self-employedpeople.But we need to combine those high minimums with guaranteedminimum hours for part time.But only France provides that.They provide 24 hours minimum guaranteed part-time work.Germany guarantees a bit on the on-demand work,

    • 22:25

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: but this can be offset by collective bargaining,and it may not be fully followed.And employment protection.We also need some employment protectionthat's not too-- you don't have to bein permanent, continuous work to have some compensationfor losing your job.And three countries have between six and two years

    • 22:46

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: before you get any employment protection,whereas I think in Spain you get it after a month.This does make it sound as if Spain is the model here.But I think it's Spain, dealing with the greater challenges,has made some responses.Access to employment.The standard employment relationshipis actually rather bad at giving access to employment.

    • 23:06

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: But interestingly, it's also the casethat it's easier to bring in anti-discrimination lawson people in standard employment relationships.And therefore, although it wasn't set upto provide access, it is actually more easierto implement all our anti-discrimination lawsif people are in a standard employment relationship, rather

    • 23:28

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: than these short-term jobs which already embody, if you like,much of the low wages and problems of workthat one's trying to avoid in the first place.But there's still major problems.We don't adjust jobs to match people's needs.We have the major problem of people disabled,not getting into work, and care worknot being something that's taken into account

    • 23:50

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: at the point of hiring.Only after you've worked six months full time often canyou apply for flexible and part time work.We do need also to improve training provisionsfor nonstandard forms of employment.And France provides a good exampleof having not only applying its training levy to people

    • 24:12

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: in nonstandard forms of employment,but actually applying a higher ratio of 1.3% instead of 1%,on people in nonstandard forms of employment.So therefore doing something to compensate.We obviously, there are a range of opportunitiesto incentivize moving from temporary to permanent work.None of them tend to be very successful.

    • 24:32

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: But still at least in some countries these exist.In others they don't.Most countries have the rights to request to move to full timeto part time.And in four of our countries is ita right at least for some groups to do so.But the rights to move back from part time to full time,which is sort of opportunities in the longer term,are much more limited.

    • 24:54

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And finally, there's the importancethat you should have the right to quit a bad job.If you're somebody who's had to take a jobbecause you're unemployed, and forced by Work Fair,and you're treated very badly, you'renot paid properly or treated properly,then if you quit that job, in five of the countries--but not in Denmark-- you're treated very harshly

    • 25:16

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: in the benefit system.So that seems to me another thing we need.And in fair treatment, what I'm trying to say hereis we need similar access to employment.We need compensation for additional risks.And we need access to voice.All of these for the kinds of thingsthat we need to even up the playing field

    • 25:36

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: between the nonstandard forms of employment and thosein the standard forms.And in life beyond work, we need notice periodsfor changes in schedules, regulated on-call waitingtime for work time, premiums for additional hours,all of those three things are found in France.And I think also limits to non-contractual additional

    • 25:56

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: hours is found in Spain.We have these rights to work flexibly.But interestingly, and I think this is a real important issue,it was even taken up by the Women and Equalities--the select committee Women and Equalities-- in the UK,that you don't have that right at the point of tryingto access work.And once you have worked six months full time

    • 26:17

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: for an employer, and you get rights to work [INAUDIBLE],you can't transport that to another employer.So you become effectively trappedwith your other employer.So what I've suggested is we havefound quite a lot of examples of inclusion,but also problems, which I'll be carrying on to discuss.We also have the normalization from the welfare system

    • 26:38

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: that comes in two directions.We have extensive support for low pay,and nonstandard forms of employment-- in the UKthrough working tax credits and universal credit,in France for its minimum income system,and in Germany as part of the Hartz reforms.Much more limited support in Denmark and Spain--temporary and partial.

    • 26:58

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And no support in Slovenia.You also get the same kind of supportthrough the state for nonstandard forms of employmentin the sense of people being able to workin nonstandard forms of employment,but continue to claim benefits.And that's extensive in France and Germany,and currently very limited in the UK.But with universal credit, people

    • 27:20

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: will not be able to refuse a zero hourscontract because it doesn't offer16 hours or 30 hours of work.So it will all be a new system in whicheverybody who's claiming benefitscan take any kind of marginal part-time work.The other countries is much more limited.And you can see here in this diagram

    • 27:41

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: that unemployment benefits and in-work benefitsare getting increasingly merged in the UK, France, and Germanyin particular, which is sort of, if you like,institutionalizing flexible forms of workas part of the welfare system.So what I've suggested is that we've,

    • 28:01

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: through this normalization, we do find a lot of examplesof positive inclusivity.And I won't go through these.They're listed there.But we also find some contradictionsin these changes.And I'll go through each of these in turn.First of all, through normalization, we not onlycreate more inclusive employment arrangements,

    • 28:24

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: but we also create new rigiditiesand new segmentations.You can see that in France, through the working timeregulations of part time workers,these apply to those who are not subsidized,but not to those who are not subsidized.So the non-subsidized part time workers-- thosewho are not receiving the minimum income--

    • 28:45

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: are increasingly incorporated within the standard employmentrelationship.But others are increasingly, if you like, divided and outside.Slovenia treats people working reduced hours very favorably,gives reduced hours on grounds of parent responsibilities,insures everybody as full time workers.But those who are part time for other reasons actually

    • 29:08

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: only receive pro rata benefits.So again, I've already talked about the trap of workingin flexible or part-time work.If you've gained the right by doingsix months of working full time, you're stilltrapped with a new employer.And Germany has been doing a lot on reregulating low pay,

    • 29:29

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: but has not done anything about minimum benefits.The UK has also been raising minimum pay,but the result is employers have beencompressing pay around the minimum,therefore limiting progression.And when we look at benefits, we seethat Denmark has a universal citizen's pension,but excludes people with less than nine monthstenure, and less than eight hours a week,

    • 29:51

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: from its very considerable additional pensionsin its collective bargaining agreements.So it gains on the one hand, and loses on the other.Slovenia has recently made insuranceof the self-employed compulsory, but limitedto only to those who register businesses.And it still ignores, if you like, the existenceof people on work contracts.

    • 30:12

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And the UK and Germany have done muchto reduce taxes for those in very low paid jobs,apart from those in particular situations--those in households claiming tax credits faced very high taxrates when they work more.And in Germany, those who move outside of their mini jobsalso face very high tax credits.

    • 30:34

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: So we have new problems and new segmentationsto deal with as we move towards more inclusivearrangements for nonstandard forms of employment.I've also mentioned the welfare systemis in a paradoxical position of bothsubsidizing and promoting nonstandard forms

    • 30:55

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: of employment.But ultimately, the problem here isthat as employers shift more of the costsof social reproduction onto the state,and also the contributions from employersinto the social reproduction systemthrough Social Security in some countries,also declines with nonstandard employment.

    • 31:17

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: This is a particular problem in the UK, whichGeorge Osborne certainly recognized in his July 15budget, that the tax credits were becoming too expensive.You have this problem that there'san inconsistency with the state guaranteeingsome kind of degree of social reproduction,and the employers being removed of any responsibility

    • 31:39

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: to decommodify labor.And interestingly, in the universal credit systemwe're reinventing the notion of full-time work,so that people who are low-paid on the minimum wagehave to find 35 hours of work, and keep on lookingfor it until they succeed.At the same time, as employers, are under no obligation

    • 31:60

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: to provide guaranteed 35 hours a week to any employee.And we also find the third contradictionis new opportunities for employer evasionof inclusive regulations.We can find various examples of derogations from regulations.Germany has them for on demand.It also allows low wages to be set for agency workers

    • 32:23

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: through collective agreements, as dowe and the Swedish derogation.That means agency workers who are paid or employedby an agency don't have the rights to equal payeven after 12 weeks with the peoplethey're working alongside.We have the externalization of risks through countries

    • 32:44

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: such as France and Germany that made extensive use of postedworkers actually avoiding paying Social Security at high levels,because it's paid in the home countryoften at much lower levels.And in Slovenia it's the opposite problem,that they're sending their own workers as posted workers,but the firms are failing to pay them properly or insure them.

    • 33:07

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: We have much evidence of increasing complexity and lackof transparency, leading to people being totally unawareof their rights, and therefore allowing employersto evade because of lack of awareness.And we also have examples of the intensified use of existingmarginalized forms of work.France is regulating part time hours, but not

    • 33:29

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: duration of contract.So you can get some kind of flex.So employers are making more use of short duration contractsto overcome the guarantees on the weekly hours.The UK has always had legal zero hours contracts,but is making increased use of them.Spain has responded to the European Commissiondesire for part time work to be normalized.

    • 33:51

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: But employers have decided to offer part time contractsalmost exclusively on a temporary basis.So to conclude.What I'm suggesting here is that to reduce everythingto one issue of employment protection or wages, I think,is too narrow.We need to take into account the full range of protectionsthat we need to maintain and deliver

    • 34:14

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: for both people on a standard employment relationship,and on people in nonstandard forms of employment.We do find some evidence of processesof inclusion and responses to labor market changeto enable people on nonstandard forms of employmentto have better protection.But this does co-exist with reinforced exclusion.

    • 34:34

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: And indeed individual policies may evenbe inclusive and exclusive.So we're not getting a linear process of progress.And progress is variable due to these complex interactionsbetween what are the thresholds?Is it hours, earnings, continuity,employment contracts?And what is the level of protection

    • 34:55

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: for the SER in the first place?How does this affect progress?What we do find is also this scope for precarious workto increase due to this increase interactionsbetween out-of-work and in-work benefits,and also the diversity in labor supply.And I would suggest that this is allcreating increased conflict between the spread

    • 35:16

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: of precarious, fragmented, and only countemployment, and the need for the state, at leastup to this point, to ensure subsistencein social reproduction.So we're finding that the state is increasinglysubsidizing low-wage work, and generatinglower social contributions to fund it.

    • 35:38

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: So what does this all add up to?Well it's early days, and I don'twant to suggest I really know fully the answer.But I want to come back to some of the debatesat the beginning.Does this all this suggest the end of the SER?Have we failed to extend and patch the SER?So should we just give up on it?This is really the argument that'sbeen made both by Stone and Arthurs,

    • 35:59

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: and by Vosko, and by Standing.I think Leah Vosko's argument is correct,that when you extend the SER, and include more people,you create new divides, and new segmentations.But I have a problem with that argument,in as much as there's never been an inclusive labormarket from the past.

    • 36:19

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: We've always been trying to include more, and extendmore, or sometimes exclude more, and reduce protection.When it looks like more inclusive in the past,it probably meant people were excluded altogether--particularly women in the home.It's also that the SER is not dead,contrary to Stone and Arthurs.

    • 36:40

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: It still applies to most people in employment.And there are many processes of change taking place-- someof them towards more inclusion.And I've tried to tease out some of those changes.And inclusion/exclusion is not an either/or.We can't say there are insiders and outsiders.Some people are insiders on one dimension,

    • 37:00

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: and outsiders on another.People move from outsider to insider and back again.And their interests are not as diverse.I haven't had time to elaborate on that.But I think that's also an important factor.People who tend to be outsiders are also subject, often subjectto high levels of discrimination.So competitive labor markets with deregulation

    • 37:21

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: hurts them more than anything.And basic income, which is the main policy of everybodyreceiving simply universal social protection,is not a substitute for these multifaceted timesof protection we need if we want that securityopportunities, fair treatment, and life beyond work.

    • 37:41

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: It cannot provide the bargaining power for individualsto achieve that.So just to reiterate, decommodificationneeds to be, needs to continue to be,a shared responsibility of the state and employers.We need to find ways to re-establish employerresponsibilities, to save SER rights,

    • 38:04

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: and to protect NSF-- nonstandard forms of employment--and to protect the welfare state.We cannot necessary avoid new forms of segmentation.But I think that we just have to keepon looking for the new problems, and tryingto find new ways to include more and more people.Employers will find loopholes and opportunities for evasion,

    • 38:26

      DR. JILL RUBERY [continued]: but I would argue that just like tax evasion,we need to constantly plug the holes,and not simply concede defeat.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Challenges & Contradictions in the 'Normalization' of Flexible Labor Markets

View Segments Segment :


Professor Jill Rubery discusses the growing prevalence of nonstandard employment relationships. She highlights how this can be both good and bad, for those in nonstandard work and for those in standard work. Rubery also shows how employers are using this type of work to transfer more of the cost of benefits to national governments.

SAGE Video Forum
Challenges & Contradictions in the 'Normalization' of Flexible Labor Markets

Professor Jill Rubery discusses the growing prevalence of nonstandard employment relationships. She highlights how this can be both good and bad, for those in nonstandard work and for those in standard work. Rubery also shows how employers are using this type of work to transfer more of the cost of benefits to national governments.

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