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Hybridisation of Work: Structure and Dynamics

Recent labour market developments seem to boost what has been called ‘multiple’, ‘plural’ or ‘hybrid’ employment forms, which refers to either a parallel existence of several dependent employment relationships at the same time (such as zero-hour contracts, temporary employment agency work, fixed-term or permanent contracts), or a combination of dependent employment and self-employment activities. In this research project we examine how the share, nature and quality of multiple jobholding has evolved in Europe and how pluriactivity spells are embedded in the occupational biography.

The changing nature of employment in today’s labour market has led to changing employment patterns and European labour markets have become more flexible over the last two to three decades – albeit to a varying degree in different countries. Relatively recent labour market developments include the so-called ‘renaissance  of self-employment’, the emergence of click working in the gig economy and an increase of a wide range of non-standard employment relations. Such developments also seem to boost what has been called ‘multiple’, ‘plural’ or ‘hybrid’ employment forms, which may refer to either a parallel existence of several dependent employment relationships at the same time (e.g. zero-hour contracts, fixed-term or permanent contracts, temporary employment agency work), or a combination of dependent employment and self-employment activities at the same time.

In various countries there is a clear trend towards such increased pluriactivity, but thus far little is known about its structure and dynamics. Workers in Germany, The Netherlands and United Kingdom are increasingly active in multiple work arrangements. Furthermore, both the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have witnessed a substantial increase in the number of solo self-employed workers. Do multiple jobholders [MJH] face similar and adequate employment terms and conditions, protections, representation possibilities etcetera as compared to single jobholders, or do they negatively differentiate as a consequence of their (fragmented) employment situation? In which industries and occupations does MJH (mainly) occur? How MJH be characterised? What is the quality of work as perceived by MJH? How are multiple jobholding phases embedded in the employment biography (stepping stone or dead end)? Does MJH differ cross-nationally and how can this be explained?

Against this background the proposed research project aims at providing evidence based insights with respect to a) precariousness versus self-sufficiency among multiple jobholders and b) consequences of MJH and MJH spells to the occupational biography of workers.

Research questions

In order to realise this aim we will address the following research questions:

  1. How has the number and share of hybrid workers evolved in Europe?
  2. How can workers in different multiple job arrangements be characterised in terms of individual and occupational features, earnings (at the individual and household level) and self-reported quality of work? Has this been changing over time?
  3. How are MJH phases embedded in the employment biography and what is the impact of MJH spells on the subsequent occupational biography and income situation?

The research design is explorative and quantitative in nature. The importance of pluriactivity within the European labour market (research question 1) will be examined based on existing statistical data from Eurostat’s Labour Force Survey and the European Working Conditions Surveys 2000-2015. Question 2 will be answered using statistics and multivariate analyses based on secondary data analyses of Eurostat’s Labour Force Survey, EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (individual and household income, material deprivation) and the European Working Conditions Surveys (quality of work). The third question will be answered using existing longitudinal data from Germany (Socio-Economic Panel), Great Britain (British Household Panel Survey/ Understanding Society) and the Netherlands (Dutch National Bank Household Survey), covering the period 2000 to 2017.

Researchers

prof. dr. P.T. (Paul) de Beer

Coordinator

dr. W.S. (Wieteke) Conen

Researcher

Project name

Hybridisation of Work: Structure and Dynamics

Financial support

Hans Böckler Foundation

Budget

€ 102.605