Speaking at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Ibec today said misleading information on the quality of jobs being created in the economy was distorting the debate on labour market regulation, and risks prompting a misguided policy response. The business group said the suggestion that the jobs recovery was characterised by an increase in poor quality, precarious work was at odds with all available evidence.
In the past year, full-time employment increased by 6% while the number of part-time workers fell by 7%. In addition, the number of people in part-time work who would prefer to work full-time hours has fallen significantly since 2012. Ireland currently has among the lowest proportion of workers on a temporary contract in the EU and among the lowest share of workers in precarious work (a contract that is less than three months). Ireland now has the second highest median earnings (adjusted for the cost of living) in the EU.
Addressing the International Labour Conference on Wednesday morning Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: “With longer working lives comes the need for different types of working, for different people, at different stages, in different circumstances. It is time to re-balance the narrative that flexible-hours or part-time working is always poorly paid, undesirable or precarious work. Many workers actively choose to work in sectors where flexible hours are available to achieve the work-life equilibrium they require or desire. Also, the ability to access flexible work has created significant opportunities for many workers to take-up or retain an active working life while balancing other responsibilities or ambitions at the same time.”
Adding to his comments at the conference, Mr McCoy said: “Some jobs have been affected by new technology and increased automation, and this trend will continue, but many more quality jobs are being created. For those who roles are impacted by technological change we must provide better opportunities for re-skilling and life-long learning.
“However, we also need labour market regulation that meets the needs of the jobs market as a whole, regulation that respond positively to inevitable changes in work patterns and the challenges it presents, rather than trying to resist such change. Our focus should be on providing well designed and stable working arrangements, that also allow for flexibility. The system must allow employers to respond to changing business demands, while also creating opportunities to build decent work for those who wish to vary their levels of participation in the workforce.”