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Precarious work precarious lives:how policy can create more security Dr Sinead PembrokePrecarious work precarious lives:how policy can create more security Dr Sinead…
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Precarious work precarious lives:how policy can create more security Dr Sinead PembrokePrecarious work precarious lives:how policy can create more security Dr Sinead PembrokePrecarious work precarious lives: how policy can create more securityPublished by: FEPS Foundation for European Progressive Studies Rue Montoyer 40, Fourth floor 1000 – Brussels Belgium T: +32 2 234 69 00 Email: info@feps-europe.eu Website: www.feps-europe.eu/en/ Twitter @FEPS Europe TASC 101 Baggot Street Lower Dublin 2 D02 TY29 Ireland Tel: +353 1 616 9050 E-mail: contact@tasc.ie Website: www.tasc.ie Twitter: @TASCblog © FEPS, TASC 2018 The present report does not represent the collective views of FEPS and TASC, but only of the respective authors. The responsibility of FEPS and TASC is limited to approving its publication as worthy of consideration of the global progressive movement. With the financial support of the European Parliament. Disclaimer The present report does not represent the European Parliament’s views but only of the respective authors.4ISBN 978-1-9993099-0-9ContentsTable of Contents Foreword 3 Acknowledgement 7 Executive summary 9 1. Introduction 15 1.1 Definition of precarious work 18 1.2 Outline 192. Mapping out precarious work in Europe 21 2.1 Introduction 22 2.2 Precarious work in Europe 23 2.3 Policy interventions at an EU level 34 2.4 Concluding comment 363. Employment legislation, industrial relations and precarious work in Ireland 39 3.1 Introduction 40 3.2 Precarious work in Ireland 40 3.3 Industrial relations and collective bargaining power of workers and trade unions 48 3.4 Trade unions and organising precarious workers 50 3.5 Recommendations 524. Welfare and precarious work – Existing between two systems 57 4.1 Introduction 58 4.2 Welfare policy in Ireland 58 4.3 Precarious worker’s experience of accessing social welfare supports 60 4.4 Recommendations 635. Precarious work and the healthcare system in Ireland 67 5.1 Introduction 68 5.2 Healthcare in Ireland 68 5.3 Precarious workers’ experience of health and accessing healthcare in Ireland 70 5.4 Recommendations 721Precarious work precarious lives: how policy can create more security6 Precarious work and housing in Ireland 75 6.1 Introduction 76 6.2 Housing in Ireland 76 6.3 Precarious workers’ experience of finding accommodation 80 6.4 Recommendations 817 Precarious work and childcare policy in Ireland 85 7.1 Introduction 86 7.2 Childcare in Ireland 86 7.3 Precarious workers, childcare and having children 90 7.4 Recommendations 908. Conclusion 95 8.1 Precarious work leads to precarious lives 97 8.2 An EU-level response? 97 8.3 Secure and predictable employment 98 8.4 In-work supports – do they work? 98 8.5 A universal rather than means-tested healthcare service 99 8.6 Tackling housing precarity 100 8.7 An overhaul in how we provide childcare services in Ireland 8.8 Trade unions have a major role to play in organising100 precarious workers 101 8.9 Concluding comments 102References 103 Appendix 1 113 Appendix 2 1152Foreword3Precarious work precarious lives: how policy can create more securityForeword While still debated in some academic and policy circles, even the OECD accepts that atypical precarious working arrangements, including temporary jobs, involuntary part-time jobs and bogus selfemployment, are often not stepping stones to better employment. As FEPS-TASC’s research so clearly shows, precarious work leads to precarious lives where people are trapped in uncertainty, floating and on stand-by, with all aspects of their lives, their personal ambitions and hopes for family formation, on hold. The qualitative evidence in the report vividly describes these effects, such as ‘forced infantilisation’ and mental scarring that impacts the quality of life of precarious workers and their families. This is not just a labour market matter, it is also matters for equality. While economic recovery in Ireland has delivered a substantial increase in full-time jobs and a corresponding welcome decrease in the unemployment rate, it is also the case that the growth in atypical jobs seen over the economic crisis has imprinted on the shape of the Irish labour market. The FEPS-TASC sectoral analysis shows how different forms of poor-quality jobs are a reality in some (but not all) sectors of the Irish labour market. The Irish labour market is constantly changing and some might hope upskilling and occupational restructuring might filter these low-quality jobs out of the labour market. However, keeping one’s ‘fingers crossed’ is not a policy response. FEPS-TASC, in this second report, draw attention to the drivers of precarious jobs including low employment protection legislation, procurement policy and practice, and In Work Benefits that support low paid workers but also subsidise low wages and make these jobs in some ways sustainable. FEPS-TASC rightly focus on policy responses to address the impact of precarity in peoples’ lives. But crucially FEPS-TASC assert that labour market regulation is required to restrict the possibility of maintaining old, and creating new, forms of precarious employment. In this regard, the concept of minimum hours regulation needs to take its place alongside minimum wage regulation.As well asmitigating the likelihood of employers creating precarious jobs, much can be done to promote the creation of better-quality jobs. The state can lead by example here, beginning with a cessation of outsourcing service jobs in statutory sectors and continuing with a stronger focus on social clauses for quality employment in procurement policy. All of this is in line with EU competition policy and, consistent with 2014 obligations and public duties on statutory agencies to address inequality and promote human rights. FEPS-TASC refer to the important role that basic access to public services in health, housing and childcare can play in enabling precarious workers to live decent lives. The idea of universal basic services is key to reimagining how the Irish welfare state can play a key role in enabling people to have the capacity to move through precarious forms of employment without being trapped in that labour market, and without that labour market trapping them in poor quality lives. But what is blocking the concept of universal public services in health, housing and education? In our political system we see an ideological orientation that privileges the market as the primary mechanism to provide citizens with basic needs. This combines with the power of vested interests who display a culture of entitlement to profit from privatised delivery of such services. Despite evidence that citizens want public services and are willing to pay for them, and despite evidence that social investment pays a decent return on investment, ideology and power impede the citizen’s ambition4Forewordfor decent pubic services. Recent referenda and opinion polls affirm that Irish public opinion is often more progressive than the political system. The European Pillar of Social Rights and Social Investment Package offer important ways to frame debates about public services at an EU level where universal basic services could be a unifying force for EU citizenship. ETUC and national- level trade unions are a vital advocate for such public services. A third set of recommendations in FEPS-TASC’s report focus on the role that the social welfare system might play in mitigating precarious labour markets. Here, FEPS-TASC are forward-thinking in their recommendation that policy makers need to avoid the sometimes-easier option of enabling the social welfare system, and particularly in-work-benefits, to prop up and subsidise precarious wages. While there are always incremental policy changes to be made to improve and update social protection, the point is well made in the report that it is ultimately employers who benefit from IWB, which can unintentionally incentivise the creation of employment that leads to underemployment. Policy makers need to take seriously the link between low education and the likelihood of precarious employment. O’Riain (2017) offers the concept of the ‘low learning trap’ to illustrate how, without skills and education, precarious employment is not a stepping-stone but a trap locking people and families into poverty. What is needed are policy responses built around education and training led upskilling, which Brodkin (2013) describes as ‘enabling’ activation. At present, Irish ‘work-first activation’ requires precarious workers to attend Job Path where the ‘underemployed’ worker is obliged, on threat of sanctions, to accept additional hours of employment if so offered. This opens up the possibility of the frightening scenario of ‘double’ and ‘triple’ precarity where workers are legally obliged to make up a working week combined of various ‘jobs’. Not only is this ethically and morally dubious, but it clearly erodes any possibility of upskilling and in-work training and reinforces precarity traps. Qualitative evidence emerging from studies of Irish public employment services (Intreo, Job Path and Local Employment Services) suggests that much is left to be desired when it comes to ‘enabling’ guidance-led services or meaningful engagement on upskilling or education. A ‘human capital’ or ‘education-first’ activation strategy might not be as attractive in reducing headline-live register numbers, and might be costlier in terms of investment in active labour market measures. However, it should not take too much political imagination to envision the potential value of longer-term returns on social investments at individual and family, as well as societal levels. Precarious work is disempowering and ‘work first’ activation further erodes rights from precarious workers and welfare claimants. Pushing the worker to take any job offer, disables the prospective employee from rejecting a poor-quality offer and stymies the possibility of them negotiating stronger terms and conditions. In other shifts in power we see a drop in the proportion of new jobs that are unionised over 2008 to 2014. As the FEPS-TASC report argues, more can be done to make trade unions relevant to precarious workers and to collectively advocate for policy changes that advance their agenda. This report is very welcome, it is a timely resource for all of us working to promote better jobs and advocating for public services. Congratulations to everyone involved, and particularly the lead researcher, Dr Sinéad Pembroke.Dr Mary Murphy Department of Sociology, Maynooth University5Precarious work precarious lives: how policy can create more security6Acknowledgement7Precarious work precarious lives: how policy can create more securityAcknowledgement There are a lot of people and organisations to whom I owe enormous gratitude. I would like to begin by thanking our partners FEPS (Foundation for European Progressive Studies), without which this project could not have happened. Thank you for partnering with TASC, supporting and funding this important research. I would like to thank our participants, without which this report could not have been written. It was a privilege that you were so open and honest in your interviews and focus group sessions. Your words show that behind precarious contracts, are real people and real lives. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the user group members, James Doorley (NYCI) Brid O’Brien (INOU), Tricia Kielty (SVP), Paul Ginnell (EAPN), Ethel Buckley (SIPTU) and Brian Forbes (Mandate), who were very generous with their time, their feedback and their overall commitment to this project. I would also like to thank our Scientific Advisory Board members, Dr Michelle O’Sullivan (University of Limerick), Dr Mary Murphy (NUI Maynooth), Professor Joan Miquel Verd (Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona) and Liz Kerrins, (Children’s Rights Alliance). Again, the time that you gave was incredibly generous and the feedback and comments were invaluable to this report. I would also like to thank TASC staff members John White, Robert Sweeney, Kirsty Doyle, and Marcos González Hernando for their support, and Tyler West for proof reading the report. Thank you to our director Shana Cohen for the feedback and the belief in the work we have produced. And finally, I would also like to thank TASC’s board members for their feedback and support for the project until its completion.8Executive Summary9Precarious work precarious lives: how policy can create more securityExecutive summary Introduction Precarious work is a complex concept; it is not just about low-waged work (as not all types of precarious work are low-waged), but includes other factors such as the uncertainty of tenure, working hours, and the frequency of pay. In short, it is the unpredictability of income, the instability of employment and the lack of or limited access to social security that makes precarious work ‘precarious’. Therefore, policy interventions must address these issues. This report examines five major policy areas and the scope for policy interventions. These are employment protection, social protection, health, housing, and childcare. These policy areas were identified following four focus group sessions with precarious workers, and 20 interviews with policy experts.What is precarious work? There are many definitions and understandings of the concept of precariousness. However, the main features identified by Vosko (2010) are, ‘work for remuneration characterised by uncertainty, low income, and limited social benefits and statutory elements.’ In Ireland, the employment relationships with the highest risk of precariousness are part-time, zero-hour/ if-and when, temporary and solo self-employment. The most recent data from Eurostat’s Labour Force Survey (LFS)1 revealed that as a percentage of total employment, part-time work stands at 19.7 per cent, temporary work stands at 8.4 per cent, temporary agency work stands at 2.4 per cent, self-employment stands at 13.3 per cent and solo self-employment (as a percentage of overall self-employment) stands at 68.5 per cent.Secure and predictable employment The Standard Employment Relationship (SER) continues to play an important role in both Irish society and the rest of Europe. The SER creates security in many ways; it is linked to a sense of coming of age and growing up; it is linked to a sense of independence as an individual; it is linked to one’s eligibility to take out a mortgage and purchase a home, to start a family, and to have a pension. For those who do not have a SER and work precariously, these indicators of security will not exist. At an employment protection level, multiple legislative changes are needed. This report recommends to: 1. Protect the standard employment contract.2. Legislate to ban if-and-when contracts. 3. Honest contracts: a contract must reflect an employees’ real hours of work. 4. Introduce a “precarity indemnity” for companies who are over-reliant on temporary contracts. 5. A strict legal definition of self-employment is needed. 110Eurostat’s Labour Force Survey (LFS) data from 2018 Q1, except for self-employment where the most up to date data was for 2017.Executive Summary6. The minimum wage should be replaced with the living wage rate. 7. More resources be made available to enforce and regulate employment legislation. 8. Introduce collective bargaining legislation to give trade unions a right to recognition and a right to access.Veer away from more in-work supports that subsidise precarious employment The social welfare system has played an important role in supporting workers who are underemployed or who choose to work part-time. However, this report does not recommend more in-work supports. The main reason for this is that policy needs to veer away from social welfare payments, which act as subsidies for employers to hire people on low-hour contracts and work with no guaranteed hours. The Department of Employment and Social Protection should be promoting job quality and veering away from work first activation policies that only serve to encourage forced uptake of precarious work in the labour market. Therefore, it is recommended that: 1. Income supports should be extended to people without families.2. Re-instate social welfare for people under 25 back to the normal rate. 3. Provide a social security safety net for self-employed workers. 4. A “job quality” rather than a “job first” activation policy. 5. Modernise and update the administration of in-work supports. 6. For the Working Family Payment, working hours should be tracked over a six-month period to calculate the average working hours. 7. Extend Job seekers’ Transition payment to parents who have children up to eighteen years old. 8. Focus on fixing the state pension, whilst making it more accessible for precarious workers on the lower end.A universal rather than means-tested healthcare service As the only European country that does not offer universal primary care, Ireland is lagging behind the European norm. This is having detrimental consequences for many precarious workers and their health. Therefore, this report recommends to: 1. Legislate for a paid sick leave scheme to be provided by all employers.2. Legislate for universal GP care for all. 3. Invest in and develop public mental health services. 4. There needs to be political will to bring about universal healthcare.11Precarious work precarious lives: how policy can create more securityTackling housing precarity The housing crisis in Ireland is affecting many people and not just precarious workers. However, due to the temporary and insecure nature of precarious work, this puts them at an even more vulnerable situation. Like healthcare services, housing is a necessity, and tackling precarious working conditions also means tackling precarity in the housing sector. This report recommends: 1. Strengthen private rental sector legislation to provide for security of tenure.2. Increase supply through capital investment in social housing. 3. Adopt the European Cost Rental Model (ECRM) as a long-term solution for a more affordable rental sector. 4. Fill the enforcement vacuum; strengthen the RTB to become a regulator of the private rental sector.An overhaul in how we provide childcare services in Ireland We must also remember that precarious working conditions do not only just affect an individual, but very often their family. Therefore, this report recommends public, sustainable funding of childcare services by providing direct capitation grants, similar to that of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme operated by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and in primary and secondary schools by the Department of Education and Skills. This scheme would also entail educators’ wages/ salaries being paid directly by the State. Therefore, this report recommends: 1. Increase investment for childcare and early years’ sector.2. Develop and publish an early years’ strategy. 3. Move towards publicly funding regulated childcare services through direct capitation grants. 4. Regulations for income assessment under the Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) need to take into consideration uncertain income and rental/mortgage expenses. 5. Working conditions in the early years and childcare services sector need to be improved. 6. Support and regulate other forms of childcare such as childminders. 7. Paid parental leave.Trade unions have a major role to play in organising precarious workers Trade unions play an important role in workers’ rights and the maintenance of economic security for individuals and households across the globe. At a policy level, Ireland has one of the most restrictive collective bargaining legislation compared to other European countries and even further afield. These regulations can pose limitations in what trade unions are able to achieve. In Ireland, an employer does not have to recognise a t
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