Europe faces a work revolution. To live, we need to heed words of Charles Darwin and change and adjust to fit our changing environment, writes?Denis Pennel. ?
Denis Pennel is managing director?of the World Employment Confederation-Europe.
A flourishing biodiversity
Today’s labour investing arenas are characterised by biodiversity. If compared to the 1960s male and white breadwinner model, the important population has not been so diverse: women are the reason for almost 50% of Europe’s workforce, four generations of employees are coexisting within companies, ethnic minorities, disabled and senior people are engaged in the labour market. These different “species”, as Darwin likely would have called them, contain a multiplicity of expectations as people seek more autonomy, greater flexibility plus a better work/life balance.
At one time, we have a diversity associated with contracts and kinds of work – the actual ‘DNA‘ of the 21st-century workplace.? The on-demand economy requires companies to be more agile that, combined with digitalisation and public policies to counter unemployment, ensures that there has been a huge diversification of the job relationships and a destandardisation of working conditions.? Some 35 types of contracts operate across Europe, including part-time, fixed-term and training contracts and a growing body of freelancers and workers holding down multiple jobs from the gig economy.
Thirdly, there’s a simple diversity of eco-systems with 28 different national labour markets. Every one of them complex together with institutions and social partners playing diverse roles and taking different strategies to issues like minimum wage, collective bargaining and difficult vs. soft regulation.
Embrace new opportunities
To create labour policies fit on your 21st century, we must respect this fragile eco-system and accommodate embrace it.? Biodiversity in the arena of work offers the possibility to cultivate policies that nurture and protect all species and DNA as well as them to flourish.
By respecting biodiversity we shall drive inclusiveness and social integration, boost diverse sorts of work and increase employment among vulnerable groups. Yes, some workers will never secure permanent contracts but many people – eg. students, parents of little ones – do not want open-ended contracts.
Fostering structures that match supply with demand at work will also drive up productivity and competitiveness. ?Equally, promoting well-regulated and organised flexible varieties of work will reduce undeclared work with the outcome that more workers enjoy the security of social protection and governments all over the EU improve their tax revenues.
The one-size-fits-all approach went the way of the Dodo. It no longer meets the needs of companies, workers or society.? Exactly as intensive monoculture should cease being the favoured agricultural practice (because of negative relation to the environment), discovered let go of the notion that full-time, open-ended contracts could be the only decent norm. The latest reality demands freedom usually chosen and diverse forms of work.
Nurture this fragile equilibrium
To maintain this fragile equilibrium, we will have to give up the winner-takes-all approach and recognise that biodiversity in your labour publication rack here to stay. In place of constantly discussing ‘non-standard forms of work’, we will have to adapt labour market policies to focus on ‘endangered species’, – just like the long-term unemployed, informal workers, younger workers and also unskilled.
We will want to develop a sustainable labour market environment with a level playing field for all types of work. Forms of work that consist of open-ended contracts should never cost more or face unjustified restrictions. Nor should they be over-regulated as this will cause less decent different types of work. Cooperation between private and non-private employment services is required to be promoted as a means to implement such active labour market policies and facilitate career transitions.
Future labour markets require a lot more intermediation to simplify their increasing complexity. We will have the emergence of new worker communities through web sites, cooperatives and freelancer unions that work as responsible intermediaries — advancing decent, quality work, upholding a superior high standards and delivering tailor-made answers to both companies and workers.
The employment industry has already implemented such innovative solutions with initiatives like portable and transferable social schemes for agency workers via supplementary sectoral social, training and pension bipartite funds, delivering additional benefits which includes access to bank loans and credit together with specific contracts. These support workers, while reconciling flexibility and uncertainty, bring stability and protection.
Define a brand new Social Deal
As the eu Commission correctly identifies in its pillar of social rights, Europe demands a whole new Social Deal adapted to flexible, project-based models capable to balance freedom, individualism and uncertainty with protection.? Rights and social benefits really should be portable and placed on individuals, not employers. The funding of advantages schemes really should be adapted to mirror new, diverse different types of employment and we’ll need to levy taxes from across society from students to pensioners – possibly even purposing a percentage of VAT to afford social protection schemes.? We will also need to reinforce skills recognition and on life-long learning and development.
In the brand new world of work, Europe will probably need to adapt whether it’s to survive and assure its place one of many fittest.