Striking a balance between flexibility and security

Published: 26 March 2014 at 11:41

European experts take part in Anglia Ruskin workshop to discuss new working practices

Anglia Ruskin University is taking part in a cross-European project to investigate strategies for work reorganisation that provide enhanced flexibility for employers while also maximising security for workers.

Flexibility for employers refers to work organisation, working time, salary levels and structures, geographical mobility and employment levels.

Security-enhancing solutions for workers include flexi-time, telecommuting and virtual teams, reduced hours, sabbaticals for re-training, temporary assignments in other organisations and income support during temporary layoffs.

Featuring academics and industry experts from Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Italy and Spain, Anglia Ruskin is hosting an international workshop to discuss these issues on its Cambridge campus on Tuesday, 1 April.

Dr Kenneth Dubin, Principal Lecturer in Human Resource Management, said:

“Prior to the economic crisis that began in 2008, the European Union’s employment strategy favoured the promotion of ‘flexicurity’: negotiated and legislative reforms to provide employers with greater flexibility while encouraging an expansion of government and third-party provision of active labour market policies, such as job re-training and placement schemes.
“This strategy was largely based on the pioneering experiences of countries in Northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia. However, as the crisis has strained public sector budgets, governments everywhere – particularly those in countries where ‘flexicurity’ was least advanced – have scaled back their commitments to assisting workers displaced by competitive adjustment.
“Given the enormous long-term social costs of unemployment and precarious jobs, such as poverty and social unrest, finding alternative solutions to complement a less ambitious role for government is critical to Europe’s future.”

Researchers will analyse innovative, bargained solutions that balance flexibility and worker welfare. The potential solutions will then be debated with employer associations, unions and employers in order to gauge their suitability across different nations, sectors and firms.

The workshop on 1 April, entitled “Going Up the High Road. Rethinking the role of social dialogue to link welfare and competitiveness” is free to attend.