Is any pattern of work that does not follow the traditional male norm of full-time, permanent employment with a single employer. It includes agency labour, part-time work, casual work, temporary contracts, self-employment, homeworking, and zero-hours contracts. There is evidence that at least some forms of atypical work are growing and this has elicited two responses from commentators and policy-makers. On the one hand, atypical work has been welcomed as evidence of labour market flexibility and a means of securing work-life balance. On the other hand, it has been seen as evidence of declining security of employment and a movement towards a more insecure labour market, in which employees are at risk of exploitation. The policy of the European Union towards atypical work has been informed by both perspectives: non-traditional work is encouraged but it must also be regulated to ensure it is undertaken voluntarily and does not lead to a degradation of employment standards (see flexicurity). To ensure the latter, a number of directives have been adopted or proposed in recent years that deal with part-time work, work to a fixed-term contract, and agency work. Broadly, these directives seek to prevent the abuse of atypical work (e.g. employment on a succession of fixed-term contracts) and ensure equal treatment (see equal opportunity) for atypical workers with workers on traditional contracts in the same employment. [See contingent work and non-standard work.]
Subjects: Human Resource Management.