Flexicurity: Actions at Company Level

Broughton A, Biletta I, Vacas C |   | European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions | Jun 2012

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Flexicurity is a concept that has been promoted as a cornerstone of the European employment strategy since the mid-1990s.

Its aim is to increase employment opportunities for workers, while at the same time increasing flexibility, enabling organisations to adapt their operations to business needs and increasing employment levels.

The main element of the European flexicurity strategy is therefore the parallel development of flexibility opportunities on the one hand and security measures for both businesses and workers on the other.

Flexicurity is a relatively new concept and therefore lacks a universally accepted definition. Nevertheless, an agreed central feature is that the dimensions of flexibility and security in labour markets do not oppose each other. The past few years have, however, been particularly challenging for European labour markets: the recent financial crisis and recession have had an inevitable negative impact on EU labour markets and unemployment levels. This has called into question the effectiveness of the flexicurity strategy in terms of supporting vulnerable workers.

The main hypothesis in this research is that companies do develop measures for vulnerable groups of workers or measures which are especially beneficial for these workers.

This report examines initiatives that could be considered as flexicurity measures, developed by companies to support women, young workers and older workers. The purpose is to show that even if the measures are introduced for business reasons and are not the result of a deliberate company flexicurity strategy, many may be considered as flexicurity measures as they contribute to improving both flexibility and security of vulnerable workers.

On the basis of 16 company case studies in six EU Member States – the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and the United Kingdom – the study examines the motives of companies for developing these actions and the lessons learned.