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Contesting Time: International Comparisons of Employee Control of Working Time Peter Berg Michigan State University The Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable.

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Presentation on theme: "Contesting Time: International Comparisons of Employee Control of Working Time Peter Berg Michigan State University The Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable."— Presentation transcript:

1 Contesting Time: International Comparisons of Employee Control of Working Time Peter Berg Michigan State University The Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies Industrial relations and workplace flexibility: international comparative perspectives 7 February 2006

2 Trends in Flexible Working Time Arrangements Employers and employees across countries are demanding greater flexibility. Use of FWTA, such as part-time work, telecommuting, compressed work weeks, annualized hours contracts, and time banks, increased throughout the 1990s. The extent to which employees benefit from FWTA depends on their ability to control working time.

3 Framework of Control over Working Time Institutional Environment Bargaining power of actors in employment relations system Government regulations Labor Market Conditions Cyclical Unemployment level & Demand for skills Structural Aging pop. & Birth rates Management and Labor Union Strategies Efficiency Work Organization Technology Dimensions of Control over Working Time Duration Timing of Work

4 Data for the Study We gathered information on working time arrangements in Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Australia, and the United States in interviews with government officials, managers, worker representatives, academic experts, union and employer association officials.

5 Institutional Environment European Union Directives on working time and part-time equality Participation through works council directive, social partners. Sweden and Italy Collective bargaining The Netherlands Collective and individual control Australia WorkChoices is undermining collective institutions and increasing employer bargaining power.

6 Labor Market Conditions The United States Position in the labor market is a primary source of power for employees to gain control over work schedule. Australia Skill shortages and ageing population not driving working time flexibility or more worker control. Individual bargaining growing in importance. Japan Demographic developments driving changes in working time and child care leave.

7 Management and Labor Union Strategies Germany Employment security and Employer flexibility The United States Recruitment and retention Australia Growth in casual work.

8 Summary In countries with low government intervention in the labor market and weak collective bargaining institutions, labor market conditions have more influence on employee control of working time. Skills bring power, and management strategy drives variation in working time arrangements. In countries with higher government intervention in the labor market and strong collective bargaining institutions, the effect of labor market conditions on employee control is muted. One finds more uniform, collectively negotiated working time arrangements that balance labor and management needs.

9 Conclusions Although employees have made some gains, working time is primarily controlled by management. European Union countries have given employees some control over working time through legal rights and collective bargaining agreements. The United States and increasingly Australia are characterized by low employee control and an uneven distribution of control of working time across occupations. When considering policy to increase working time flexibility, more attention needs to be paid to employee control over working time.


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