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New forms of labour market flexibility and work quality

Research project AG/FF/080 (Research action AG)

Persons :

Description :

1. Name of the public Institution

Federal Ministry of Employment and Labour

2. Description and objective of the project

For many years now, the labour market has no longer corresponded to the model of the male worker employed full-time under an employment contract of unlimited duration.

The forms of work have become increasingly diversified, to the point where the usual concepts for describing the job market : employment, unemployment and inactivity, have become inadequate for accurately reflecting situations which overlap in so many ways. These "grey" zones have grown ever more significant. Thus, there exist unemployed persons who work, students who take jobs during the holidays, persons employed with multiple statuses, and highly diversified modes of working. Even the duration of full-time work has diversified greatly, so that a full-time equivalent in one sector can represent a work-week of 35 hours, while in another it is 39 hours, i.e. a difference of more than 10%. A whole series of new forms of employment coexist with one another. Part-time work is still undergoing substantial development, but already assumes a variety of forms. The interim sector has also seen very major developments. And there are also new forms of employment under limited-term contracts, such as student jobs, for example. With the development of the necessary technical means, teleworking is also assuming significant proportions.

It has therefore become necessary to render a more accurate account of this diversity, and to make use of new sources to do so. This is all the more important inasmuch as one of the primary indicators of the labour market is the employment rate, the ins and outs of which urgently need to be better understood. The employment rate has become a very important indicator for the action plans, and it needs to be refined and supplemented by other, more qualitative indicators in the national action plans implemented within the framework of the European Union. These qualitative indicators received renewed encouragement during the Belgian Presidency of the European Union. A battery of indicators is progressively being created, with the goal of better defining the quality of employment.

This project seeks to establish a database which will incorporate all of the information concerning the conditions, terms and volume of work of persons employed according to the individual characteristics of these latter. For this purpose, it also aims to make better use the various data sources which already exist or are currently in development (Crossroads bank, social report, upedi, workforces survey, Onem, etc.). It also strives to create indicators which will allow one to characterise these various new forms of work and to align them with the results obtained at the level of the regions and in relation to other European countries. At the same time it will attempt to develop and calculate labour market quality indicators within the framework of the proposals made as part of the process of Lisbon, Nice, Stockholm and finally Laeken.

3. Work to be performed

The scientific team will have to develop a methodology for processing data coming from different sources in a harmonised manner. This methodology will initially have to carefully pinpoint and define the new forms of work which are emerging in order to create a coherent conceptual framework.

It will develop a database including the information necessary for achieving the objective sought. This will have to be done in order to collect information on the regional, federal and international levels.

It will also develop a regulatory database so as to precisely specify the different regulatory situations relating to the new forms of work. Particular attention will have to be devoted to the evolution of regulations in this area.

It will elaborate tools for analysis, evaluation and comparison of the various regions of the country, of the federal state and of the European Union, and even other major countries.

It will provide a numerical estimation of the work quality indicators established within the framework of the European Union.

4. Final product expected

a. From the scientific team

The following final products are expected:

A methodology allowing one to achieve the objectives sought.

A statistical database on the forms of flexibility and working conditions in the labour market.

A regulatory database in order to be able to better understand the contours and origins of the new forms of work.

The development of indicators aimed at characterising the regional, national and European situations so as to permit comparisons.

b. For the public institution

A database built and maintained on the basis of the work of the scientific team.

5. Valorisation of the result

The result will be fully accessible to researchers upon request, and most of the information will be available on the department's website. This information must also facilitate the discussion within the Union European, notably in relation to the national action plan and the guidelines. Thus, this study must also serve to generate new information and indicators on the new forms of employment and the quality of the working conditions. Moreover, these databases will be updated each year, which will make it possible to follow the evolutions in this area.

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