T2-WS4: Workshop: Non-standard and new forms of employment: Challenges to labour law and industrial relations

6 September 2019, 15:00–16:30

Sabina Stiller, AIAS-HSI, University of Amsterdam

Workshop: Non-standard and new forms of employment

Challenges to labour law and industrial relations


  • Sabina Stiller, AIAS-HSI, University of Amsterdam

Although labour law and social security law have always been adapting to labour market developments, the transformation of the labour market has been speeding up in the last few decades, relating to greater fragmentation and increasing economic flexibility.

In response, a first trend has been new legal designs of ‘work relationships’ that have seen the light in recent years. At the end of the previous century, there was a lot of attention for flexible forms of work within the legal framework of the employment contract (fixed-term work, on-call contracts, casual work and others). In recent years, the spectrum of work has thus widened to a variety of jobs that differ from the standard employment contract. A second trend has been the rise of self-employed without personnel. The rapid growth of the number of self-employed people in many EU countries raises questions about the desired level of protection and regulatory framework for this group. Views on the latter include a broad spectrum: from "no intervention" (as they are small entrepreneurs); to “providing minimum protection” in case of disability and against payments below the minimum wage; to "all-embracing regulation" in the case of workers who actually act as employees but have not been able to acquire that status (‘’bogus self-employed”).

While the above trends primarily relate to new employment relationships, a third one focuses on new business models that seem to ignore existing employment regulations. They are referred to as the crowd economy and related terms such as sharing, collaborative economy or gig economy.  One example of the latter is the provision of transport by the company Uber. Many of these initiatives are linked to the opportunities offered by digitalization and information technology and at the same time, this trend creates significant societal dilemmas linked to labour law, including issues like equal treatment, dismissal protection, decent wages and social dialogue, as well as to adequate social security protection.

The main aim of this workshop is to bring together socio-legal comparative analyses of how the challenges to labour law and social protection systems - generated by the above described trends (increasing labour market flexibility and the incidence of non-standard and new forms of employment) are  addressed through innovative policy responses, social dialogue and social partner initiatives in several European states.
The various papers examine the consequences of the rise of non-standard and new forms of work in the Netherlands, Germany,  France and Hungary, in the light of:

(i) the impact of these challenges on the extent of protection by labour law/social security protection of (certain groups of) workers,
(ii) the responses in terms of government regulation, jurisprudence, and social partners’ collective forms of regulation,
(iii) the consequences for social partners, in particular trade unions’ strategies (e.g. to deal with potential erosion of membership).

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.

New forms of employment in Hungary

Labour-market practicality versus labour law rational?

Attila Kun, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary

This paper deals with atypical forms of employment in Hungary such as cooperatives (school cooperative groups; social cooperatives) and active labour market programmes. They are used to offer cost-effective (subsidized), flexible, and customized labour force. They are unique non-standard forms of employment and based on pure labour market-oriented reasoning.

Platform work in France

Can collective rights overcome the social protection gap?

Hanneke Bennaars, Leiden University

This paper provides an analysis of the regulatory framework applying to platform work in France. This regulation is still incomplete and fragmented. The paper looks into workers’ employment status, the formal relationships between clients, workers and platforms, the access to social protection, and the organisation and representation of platforms workers.

Subscribe to RSS - T2-WS4: Workshop: Non-standard and new forms of employment: Challenges to labour law and industrial relations