Germany’s cautious approach to the regulation of flexible and new forms of work and conflicting social partner responses

Sabina Stiller, AIAS-HSI, University of Amsterdam

This paper presents and reflects upon Germany’s approach to the regulation of flexible and new forms of employment. Looking specifically at solo-self-employment and platform-based work, it gives an overview of recent changes in legal regulation and the underlying policy agenda as well as describing the strategies of social partners in response to labour force flexibilization. Drawing on data from an ongoing comparative EU research project (NEWEFIN) on regulatory changes for new employment forms, it concludes that Germany currently follows a cautious and hesitant approach regarding these specific groups of workers. In parallel to an ongoing process of legal re-regulation of other forms of atypical work, trade unions keep opposing employers’ demands for flexible employment forms by seeking further improvements of working conditions and legal and social protection. Within this context, solo-self-employed and platform workers have certainly entered the agenda of unions, despite posing challenges compared to traditional firm-based members.