Outdated ideas on part time and temporary work

by Barrie Hopson on January 24, 2010 · 0 comments

in Flexible working,New ways of working,portfolio careers

Life is not made any easier for portfolio workers or indeed anyone working outside of the ‘traditional 9-5, 35 – 40 hour week’ by legislation on both sides of the Atlantic. An article in the Wall Street Journal recently stated that there ‘ would be much more growth in this sector if Americans—from the White House down to the personnel department—stopped discriminating against temporary work as inferior or anomalous’.

In Europe it is even worse. Research in 2007  by Eurociett, the European Confederation of Private Employment Agencies, argued that lifting restrictions on temporary work across the EU could create some 2.1 million new jobs and boost the EU economy by 12.5 billion Euros in the next 5 years.  The number of agency workers in the EU more than doubled between 1996 and 2006 from 1.6 million to 3.3 million full time job equivalents.

The G’ments and the trade unions in this country find it difficult to see outside of 19th and 20th century goggles but compared with some other European countries we are comparatively forward looking. France imposes maximum time limits for temporary assignments and limit the scope for contract renewals. Labour laws in France, Belgium and Spain insist that employers seeking to enter agreements with temporary worker agencies must outline ‘reasons of use’ to justify the contracts. Italy operates a quota system limiting the percentage of agency workers that can be allocated to one employer.  In Belgium, unions have the power to intervene if they object to specified reasons of use.

There is still the underlying assumption in most countries that basically most people would always prefer a full time job – a ‘proper job’.  Well we know don’t we that there are at least 1 million people in the UK alone that have turned their backs on this career pattern.   As usual the vanguard for social change is followed up in the rear by politicians and special interest groups like Unions. We just have to keep shouting at them that the entire concept of a ‘full time job’ is now outdated. The only question for people already today revolves around how many hours a week they want to work. That could vary from 1 to 70. Most people need to be clear as to the income they need and want to earn and the blend of life activities they wish to design for themselves.

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