Protected mobility for employment and decent work: Labour market security in a globalised world
The paper finds that a cluster of OECD countries that might be called "numerically flexible" does in fact demonstrate good labour market results: employment rates overall and rates for relevant groups (young/female/older) are higher and unemployment is lower than in countries with less numerical flexibility as measured by employment tenure and tenure distribution. However, when considering indicators of job quality (measured by wages, perceived employment security, access to training, etc.) the picture is mixed, with some countries exhibiting low shares of good quality employment and some others high shares. The discriminating variable seems to be labour market institutions and policies. If they are extensive there is "protected flexibility", and job quality as well as perceived job security are high. In the absence of such policies, job quality and job security suffer. A conclusion is that if efficiency and equity are sought in labour markets in open economies then institutions and policies for “protected mobility” should exist. Institution building (or transformation of existing institutions) is important on several accounts. Firstly, globalisation and technical change transforms employment relations and entail more volatility and less security, because employers cannot maintain the same degree of employment protection as in less exposed economies. Secondly, collective bargaining agendas have to be extended to include labour market policies, as employers’ demands for more adjustment flexibility will increasingly be accompanied by worker representatives’ demands for better security in change. In other words: reduced employment protection has to be compensated by labour market security if decent work is a target. Protected mobility by sound labour market policies might result in real “flexicurity” (adaptability for firms and security for workers) and become a common objective of both sides of industry while also reconfirming an enhanced role for the State.
numerical flexibility, labour market policy, labour market institutions, tenure, job quality
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