E U R O P E A T W O R K
A VISION ON #1
TEMPORARY WORK JUNE 07
Following on ADP HR European Atlas, this new
publication focuses on one specific HR theme
and presents the opinions of two leading
European experts and one HR executive.
Welcome to the first issue of "Europe at Work.
A vision on..." covering the challenges of
temporary work at the European level.
James arrowsmith frans Mutsaers tiziano treu
associate Professor in industrial relations Human resources Director of sita former italian Minister of Labour,
and Human resources Management at in the Netherlands chairman of the commission for
Warwick Business school employment & social security at the
"a two-fold approach
"increase in temporary work to temporary work in a "towards smoother
is likely to continue" personnel-intensive sector" european harmonisation"
Page 2 Page 4 Page 6
An ADP publication
Increase in temporary work
is likely to continue
For more than 15 years, Dr James Arrowsmith
has been studying diverse aspects of flexibility in
EU employment. As he analyses the root causes of the
current temporary work level, he forecasts that the increase
in fixed-term employment will be a lasting trend.
europe at work: Looking at redundancies or dispose of a between social partners exist in
temporary work rates in europe, worker, therefore employers Poland as in the historic western
we can see spain above 33%, the more often opt for fixed-term countries, so workers have
uK below 6%, to take two employment. The UK is the less weight in the bargaining
examples – why are figures so exact opposite. Hiring and firing process. This is why temporary
different in europe? is cheaper and easier, so there employment is going up in
James Arrowsmith: I look at it is no hesitation in going for Poland.
from a different angle. Most of indefinite contracts.
the historic EU countries, with
Large firms have
more room for
a core and peripheral
Associate Professor in Industrial
Relations and Human Resources
Management at Warwick
Business School in the UK
the noticeable exception of the What about Poland, which also Many countries – germany for
UK, have fixed-term contract has a very high temporary work instance – are experiencing a
rates in the range 10-15%. rate? significant increase in temporary
There is a convergence in Regulation in Poland offers a lot employment. Will this trend
the western economy. The of flexibility. Firms that decide continue?
explanation for the radically to set up there aim to take full I can’t see it going down,
different numbers in the UK and advantage of it, and obviously simply because the three major
Spain lies with local regulation don’t use the same rigid models governing factors are heading in
of permanent contracts. In as in their country of origin. In the same direction. Therefore,
Spain, it is difficult to make addition, no such agreements temporary work is likely to
continue to increase. Germany
is typical of a country coming
a matter of discussion. Do
they work well together? The >>
out of recession. Employers bottom line is to determine
Dr James arrowsmith is
are still reluctant to hire while if gains from flexibility in
unemployment remains high. numbers compensate for any associate Professor in industrial
A new political context made resultant loss of skills. And relations and Human resources
temporary work easier to use, again, this brings us back to Management at Warwick
facilitating deregulation and our discussion on sectors, since Business school, uK.
flexibility. Some indicators different sectors have different
His principal research areas
confirm this: between 2003 requirements in terms of skills.
and 2006, the interim work are flexible working time
agency Manpower multiplied arrangements and performance-
the number of its branches in related pay.
Germany by 5.
is temporary employment more some of his publications…
frequently used in small "Why is there not more ‘annualized-
businesses? hours’ working in Britain?", Industrial
There is no evidence for this, Relations Journal, 39, (forthcoming in
as large firms have more room May 2008)
for a core and peripheral model: L’interim en UE : les stratégies des acteurs
invest in key strategic skills and sociaux en Europe, with
r. Belkacem, c. Kornig and f. Michon
use temporary workers as a
ed. Les Mondes de l’intérim (forthcoming
buffer. Let’s not forget that in 2008)
the traditional reasons for
"temporary agency Work in the enlarged
temporary work are seasonal eu", Luxembourg: european commission,
requirements and substitution 2006
for low-skilled profiles. The "the european cross-border dimension
first influencing factor is the to collective bargaining in multi-national
sector of employment, which is companies", with P. Marginson, European
interrelated to a certain extent Journal of Industrial Relations, 12:3, 2006
with company size. Needs range
from large manufacturing
companies having to absorb
production peaks to additional
business in retail firms during
the Christmas period.
How are temporary work figures
influencing Hr strategies?
Flexibility is a criterion that
companies consider as they
move facilities from one country
to another. There are pros and
cons to this approach. It puts
questions on the table in HR
departments. What about the
training of temporary workers,
especially when there are safety
issues? Are temporary workers
motivated and committed to
quality results? Coexistence
between permanent and
temporary workers is also
Close-up on SITA in the Netherlan
A two-fold approach t
aste collection and treatment
is the type of business where
customers can’t really wait.
SITA Netherlands & Flanders (SITA NL/ in a personnel-intensiv
FL) serves 60,000 clients, many of them
small professionals, and can’t afford to
lose contracts because of absent personnel. The waste collection business requires accurate ope
“In waste collection, we replace anyone team staffing, and SITA Netherlands constantly calls
who is sick, in training or on vacation by
temporary agency personnel. A round that interim personnel. It also hires most of its new emplo
requires three people can’t be done by
fewer” underlines Frans Mutsaers, Human under one-year contracts, which is a common practi
Resources Director of SITA NL/FL. “We have This two-sided approach to temporary work is facilita
made a time commitment to our customers
and need to adjust our blue-collar workforce. the so-called Dutch flexicurity model.
In short, we must be very flexible.” On the top
of the company’s 3,500 people in operation,
350 workers on average come from
temporary agencies for periods that can be as
short as one day.
above the national average
This intensive calling on interim workers
leads to high temporary work figures at SITA
NL/FL. “With peaks of 25% interim workers
during the July/August period, we are no
doubt above the Dutch national average*”
analyses Frans Mutsaers. “We are highly
dependent on temporary work. This is simply
due to the nature of our sector. SITA has a
comparable level of interim workers in other
countries where it operates, such as the UK,
France and Germany.” At SITA, temporary
work is managed locally in each country, and
there is no policy shared at the European level.
Besides sector-driven short-term employee flexibility and protection
substitution, there is another facet to With interim workers for short-term
temporary work at SITA NL/FL that also substitution on the one hand and fixed-term
adds to the total. The company hires its contracts for new recruits on the other, SITA
new staff with fixed-term contracts, which NL/FL’s temporary work policy makes good
is a common integration practice in the use of Dutch regulations, described by some
Netherlands. “As our legal frameworks experts as an example of flexicurity**. For
permit, people usually start with us under instance, interim workers are considered
a one-year contract, though this is not permanent employees of their agency after
systematic and depends on profiles and 26 weeks of regular service. And public
vacancies”, SITA NL/FL HR director employment policies encourage interim
explains. “We consider such employees agencies to engage in training their staff.
as though they had signed a permanent “Our interim workers are also trained on
contract, and 95% of them eventually stay safety by their agency” points out SITA NL/
with us.” FL HR Director. “Our law gives us enough
to temporary work
erational flexibility for business on the one hand and
s on the possibility to protect our people on the
oyees frans Mutsaers, 50, is the Human resources
One-year fixed-term contracts for new Director of sita Netherlands/flanders
ice. employees also provide both parties with (Belgium), based in arnhem (NL). He is a
ated by flexibility. “Employees can resign on short member of the Board of Directors of sita
notice”, explains Frans Mutsaers, “it’s Netherlands/flanders and a member of the
a well-accepted way to start that helps
sueZ worldwide "350 topex" group.
workers to integrate. The contract can be
extended twice, but after three years the
employer has to switch to a permanent His responsibilities cover general Hr activities
contract.” But under market pressure, this for sita Netherlands/flanders, with direct
also remains a matter for social bargaining: management of an Hr Department of 45 people.
“For specific profiles that
We need to adjust are difficultrepresentatives,
to recruit, like
some higher management or
some ICT (Information and
as a director, frans Mutsaers is also in charge of
all environment, Quality & safety (eQs) aspects
for sita Netherlands/flanders, for which he
manages a dedicated eQs team of 35 people.
positions, we sometimes propose SITA Netherlands & Flanders
permanent contracts”, concludes A leader in waste collection
the SITA NL/FL HR Director. and treatment
* 15.5% in 2005 (source: Eurostat) SITA Netherlands & Flanders (Northern
** “The concept of ‘flexicurity’: a new Belgium) is a service provider in the
Frans Mutsaers, approach to regulating employment
Human Resources Director collection, recycling, and treatment of waste.
and labour markets” by Ton
of SITA in the Netherlands The company employs 3,500 employees and
Wilthagen and Frank Tros (http://
has a turnover of e 640 million. SITA Waste
bestanden/2004_TRANSFERa.pdf) Services is a part of SUEZ, an industrial
and services group active in sustainable
development that provides innovative
solutions in energy and the environment.
SUEZ has 170,000 employees and a total
revenue of e 40 billion, 80% of which is
generated in Europe.
Towards smoother European
An expert observer of the European labour market and
former Italian Minister of Labour, Tiziano Treu underlines
the link between rigidity of regulations and temporary
work contracts in various European countries, as well as
existing differences from North to South. To reconcile labour
flexibility with social cohesion, he has presented a series of
recommendations to the Council of Europe.
europe at work: Why are most preoccupying aspect is the contracts are considered to be
temporary employment rates, as recent trend that can be observed too rigid and the costs associated
measured by fixed-term contract in hiring young people with with dismissals too high.
figures, steadily rising throughout fixed-term contracts – to give an When it is easy to terminate
europe? What is your view on this? example – which is the case with an indefinite contract, as in the
Tiziano Treu: The fact that the 50% of them in Italy. UK for instance, the fixed-term
number of employees with fixed- employment rate remains low.
term contracts is slowly growing this trend doesn’t seem to be This explains why some countries
confirms a continuous need for uniform throughout europe though. are easing their regulations –
some degree of flexibility in the Why are there such differences Italy recently reduced labour costs
company. These figures are not from one country to another? for indefinite contracts by 3% and
worrisome as such with a few The factors that explain the gap Spain has decreased the cost of
exceptions, like Spain, where between European countries in dismissal.
A move towards
former Italian Minister of
Labour, Chairman of the
Commission for Employment
& Social Security at the Italian
the fixed-term employment rate terms of temporary employment
is significantly higher than in also explain the acceleration
other European countries. The I just mentioned. Indefinite
How has temporary employment
changed the human capital of
rather than jobs. In such a
model, trade unions could >>
companies? contribute as service providers
Subordinate employees on the labour market. With that tiziano treu was the italian
are still a great part of the in place, new employment Minister of Labour and social
workforce, but other work policies could be designed to security from 1995 to 1998
arrangements, notably with combine the flexibility required and Minister of transport and
independent workers, have for competitiveness and the Navigation from 1998 to 1999.
emerged. Some of these security expected by workers – He has been a senator since
workers, even though not a move towards real flexicurity.
2001, and is chairman of the
legally speaking subordinates, When workers benefit from a
find themselves in a situation safety net in case of commission for employment
of economic dependence on unemployment, they feel more and social security at the italian
one or many companies. They secure. Flexibility can then senate.
form a new grey area between increase.
dependent employment and
self-employment. can this be harmonised at the He has been a Professor of
european level? labour law at the catholic
What are the drawbacks of that This must be tailored country-by- university of Milan since 1988,
situation? country, sector-by-sector. In my and has written numerous
The level of protection may vary view, quantitative limits should not books and publications on
within the same company. There be fixed by law, but by collective
labour law, trade union law and
is a need to tailor the level of agreements. A three-fold approach
protection to the various types is required for the system to industrial relations – italian
of workers. On the one hand, self-regulate. First, move towards and comparative – including
new regulations should consider flexible regulation by agreement. Labour Law in italy, whose
extending some, but not all, Second, develop labour market revised second edition has just
standard rights to workers in and welfare services for workers. been published (ed. Kluwer Law
the grey area, like protection Third, provide an incentive so that international).
against abrupt termination, employers use fixed-term contracts
health or safety. On the other only when necessary. But with
hand, highly independent, the existing differences between Mr treu has presented his vision
skilled employees that are hired countries, the most sensible at numerous public meetings,
with a subordinate contract approach can only be smoother
notably in November 2005 before
could be given more room for harmonisation.
self-determination, for instance the european council in
in the field of working time. strasbourg at a session entitled
"New forms of flexibility: how
What would be an alternative should labour law evolve?",
approach then to flexibility in and in November 2002 before
europe? the international Labour
Given the differences between
Organization in geneva with
countries, there is no general
answer. In my view, some "Labour law and social change".
Mediterranean countries need to
improve flexibility in their
labour market and welfare
services must be developed,
pretty much as in the nordic
countries. A general idea is that
workers should be protected
facts & figures
Ratio of employees with limited duration contract
9.8 alt LT
Me Ratio of employees
uN with limited duration
Me contract as a % of
IE total employment
UK PL < 5%
5.7 5 - 8%
14.2 8 - 10%
LU 8.6 10 - 15%
5.0 15 - 20%
AT > 20%
7.0 Source: European Communities Eurostat
13.3 12.8 SI 2006 – Data 2005
BG oi r
Did you know?
• In EU 25, on average, part-time employment rate • In Eu 25, over 25 million people worked with a
was 11.4% in 2005. limited duration contract in 2006.
• Usual hours worked per week by part-time
employees in 2006 in EU 25 was 19.9 hours.
facts & figures
Ratio of employees with limited duration contract: variation 2004-2005
ES PL PT SI FI SE NL DE CY FR CH IT GR DK NO AT BE CZ LV HU BG UK LT LU SK MT IE EE RO
Source: European Communities Eurostat 2005-2006 – Data 2004-2005
ES PL PT SI FI SE NL DE CY FR CH IT GR DK NO AT BE CZ LV HU BG UK LT LU SK MT IE EE RO
Limited duration contract: variation 1996-2006
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Source: European Communities Eurostat 2006 – % of temporary employees 1996-2006