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Improving the Quality of Non-Standard Jobs Helps Women

Non-standard employment is not spread evenly across the labour market. Women are more likely to be employed in non-standard jobs, especially in part-time jobs, as compared to men.

By Mariya Aleksynska, ILO Economist, Labour Market Specialist

19 December 2016 - GENEVA (ILO News) – While women make up less than 40 per cent of total employment, globally their share amongst employees working part-time hours is 57 per cent. In 2014, more than half of women worked part-time hours in the Netherlands and Switzerland; similarly high numbers were found in India, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, reflecting the high incidence of underemployment and casual labour in lower-income developing countries.     

Women are also more likely to be found in jobs with very short hours (less than 15 hours per week). The recent ILO report on non-standard employment gives some reasons for the disparity between men and women in part-time jobs. These reasons include the traditional role of women as caregivers, different institutional settings, the relative importance of the economic sectors as well as occupational segregation. As the services sector relies more heavily on part-time work and employs more women, its expansion will likely perpetuate the over-representation of women in part-time jobs. Women’s greater presence in jobs with very short hours is also due to their presence in occupations that commonly recruit on an on-call basis. In Italy, 60 per cent of employees in the hotel and restaurant sector are employed on an on-call basis. In the United Kingdom, nearly 30 per cent of all zero-hours contracts are in education, health, public administration, hospitality and retail services.

Direct Link to Full 396-Page 2016 ILO Report:


Main Findings: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_534497.pdf

Women are also sometimes over-represented in temporary jobs. In Japan, women are more than four times more likely than men to hold temporary jobs. In the Republic of Korea, women account for 52 per cent of temporary employment. In Brazil and South Africa, temporary employment is also higher for women than for men, although the situation is reversed in Argentina and Indonesia. The main reasons for the higher incidence of women in temporary work include: reforms to liberalize the use of fixed-term contracts with the objective of encouraging women’s increased participation in the labour market; women’s lower bargaining power, making them more likely to accept jobs with lower pay and less stability; the perception that women are partially dependent on family income and thus less dependent on wage work.

Both part-time and temporary work have increased female participation in the labour market and, in some instances, have enabled women to integrate into the workforce. Nevertheless, it is important that the choice to work in non-standard forms of employment be voluntary and that the jobs be of equivalent quality to standard jobs. Globally, more women than men report that they are underemployed – meaning that they are willing but unable to work more hours. Many higher-paid jobs are unavailable on a part-time basis, and women wishing to work part-time sometimes have to downgrade to a lower-skilled occupation. Involuntary part-time and temporary employment may result in lower and more unpredictable wages; poorer training opportunities and career prospects; and higher risks of workplace discrimination, which can exacerbate inequalities in labour markets.

Insufficient hours or unstable work can also mean that social security contributions are inadequate, making women more vulnerable than men in the face of unemployment, health problems, and retirement. In contrast, voluntary part-time employment can result in higher hourly wages (as is the case in some Latin American countries). In countries where there is equality of treatment between part-time and full-time workers, and switching between part-time and full-time employment is facilitated either by law or through collective agreements, part-time work is usually of high quality, and is often eagerly demanded by women, as well as men. This is the case in the Netherlands.

Making part-time employment decent employment requires certain policies. A critical first step is to ensure equal treatment for women and men in non-standard jobs vis-à-vis standard workers, so that even if they work fewer hours they have access to the same entitlements and benefits, on a pro-rata basis. Establishing minimum guaranteed hours and limiting the variability of working schedules can provide important safeguards for part-time, on-call and casual workers. Policies to support transfer from full-time to part-time work and vice versa should be welcome.

Countries can also adapt their social protection systems to eliminate or lower thresholds on minimum hours, earnings or duration of employment so that women in NSE are not excluded, or make systems more flexible with regards to contributions required to qualify for benefits. These policies can also be accompanied by promoting tax systems that favour second earners, as well as improving the work-family balance for women and men through maternity protection and publicly provided adequate care services.



ILO – International Labour Organization


Non-standard forms of employment – including temporary work, part-time work, temporary agency work and other multi-party employment arrangements, disguised employment relationships and dependent self-employment – have become a contemporary feature of labour markets the world over.

This report documents the incidence and trends of non-standard forms of employment across different countries of the world and explores the reasons behind this phenomenon, including increased firm competition, shifting organizational practices of firms, and changes and gaps in the regulation of work.

While women make up less than 40 per cent of total wage employment, they repre­sent 57 per cent of part-time employees. Many women work part time as it allows them to combine paid work with domestic and care responsibilities. In countries such as Argentina, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Niger and Switzerland, there is more than a 25 percentage point difference in women’s participation as part-time employees when compared to men.

For some, working in NSE is an explicit choice and has positive outcomes. However, for most workers, employment in NSE is associated with insecurity. NSE can also pose challenges for enterprises, the overall performance of labour markets and economies as well as societies at large. Supporting decent work for all requires an in-depth understanding of NSE and its implications. This report details trends and consequences of NSE and draws on in­ternational labour standards and national experience to advance policy recommendations that help to ensure protection of workers, sustainable enterprises and well-functioning labour markets.

Direct Link to Full 396-Page 2016 ILO Report:


Main Findings: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_534497.pdf

Non-standard employment poses risks for workers, firms, labour markets and society

NSE, particularly when it is not voluntary, may increase workers’ insecurities in different areas. While insecurities can also be present in standard employment relationships, they are less prevalent than in the different forms of NSE. Key findings include:

Employment security. Transitions from temporary to permanent employment range from a yearly rate of under 10 per cent to around 50 per cent, in countries with available data. The greater the incidence of temporary employment in the country, the greater the likelihood that workers will transit between NSE and unemploy- ment, with the possibility of transitioning to better jobs less likely.

Earnings. Workers in NSE face substantial wage penalties relative to comparable standard workers. For temporary employment, penalties can reach up to 30 per cent. Part-time employment is associated with wage penalties in Europe and the United States but carries wage premiums for higher-skilled workers in Latin America.

Hours. Workers in on-call employment and casual arrangements typically have li­mited control over when they work, with implications for work–life balance, but also income security, given that pay is uncertain. Variable schedules also make it difficult to take on a second job.

Occupational safety and health (OSH). There are significant OSH risks due to a combination of poor induction, training and supervision, communication break- downs (especially in multi-party employment arrangements) and fractured or disputed legal obligations. Injury rates are higher among workers in NSE.

Social security. Workers in NSE are sometimes excluded by law from social security coverage. Even when they are formally protected, lack of continuity in employment and short working hours may result in inadequate coverage or limited benefits dur- ing unemployment and retirement.

Training. Workers in NSE are less likely to receive on-the-job training, which can have negative repercussions on career development, especially for young workers.

Representation and other fundamental rights at work. Workers in NSE may lack access to freedom of association and collective bargaining rights either for legal reasons or because of their more tenuous attachment to the workplace. They may also face other violations of their fundamental rights at work, including discrimination and forced labour.

Извор: WUNRN – 24.12.2016



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