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SMALL BUSINESS AND WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH: THE CHALLENGE; THE OPPORTUNITY Small business and working conditions: Eurofound research findings Jean-Michel.

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Presentation on theme: "SMALL BUSINESS AND WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH: THE CHALLENGE; THE OPPORTUNITY Small business and working conditions: Eurofound research findings Jean-Michel."— Presentation transcript:

1 SMALL BUSINESS AND WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH: THE CHALLENGE; THE OPPORTUNITY Small business and working conditions: Eurofound research findings Jean-Michel MILLER Research Manager / Eurofound RDS, Dublin - 30 April

2 EUROFOUND  EUROFOUND: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions  Established in 1975 / Dublin  Comparative socio- economic research  Tripartite European Agency  Staff: 120 persons  Budget: EUR 20.5m 2

3 The context / What is said “Certain types of companies are more vulnerable (SMEs, in particular, have fewer resources to put complex systems of worker protection in place, while some of them tend to be more affected by the negative impact of health and safety problems);” (Community strategy on health and safety at work) Guidelines for the employment policies (2012) call for “… promoting job quality…” “The Union recognises and promotes the role of the social partners at its level, taking into account the diversity of national systems. It shall facilitate dialogue between the social partners, respecting their autonomy.” (Treaty Article 152)

4 So … let’s see - fewer resources to put complex systems of worker protection in place - negative impact of health and safety problems - promotion of job quality - facilitation of dialogue between the social partners, in respect of their autonomy … 4

5 Some findings from the EWCS 5

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11 Some findings from the EWCS 11

12 Some findings from the EWCS 12

13 Research National surveys (IAB Establishment Panel - DE; National Survey on Working conditions – ES; …) tell us that where employee representation structures exist, the workers enjoy better working conditions than where there is no representation. Case studies: the contribution of social dialogue to improvements in working conditions. 13

14 Case studies Consider the following questions: How and by which means did social dialogue contribute to an improvement in working conditions? What are the major initiators and drivers? What type of relationship can be observed between company-based social partners and other actors? 14

15 Case study findings Introduction of a work council often because of increase in personnel (legislation driven). New ownership; recognition of the importance of social dialogue in order to successfully modernise the production in the company and improve working conditions (Win Win). Realisation of gaps in regards to detecting, discussing and solving working condition issues; safety concerns; awareness of the matter that a work council can help to reduce challenges. Quality of communication can contribute to improve working conditions. On basis of observations (MSDs) made by workers the company introduced a training course what was the starting point for more formal cooperation between the social partners. … 15

16 … General framework Principle: Within the European model, social partners and social dialogue in general have a key role to play in helping to improve working conditions (Eur level). But: the European level of regulation and European social dialogue is quite far removed from the realities at the shop-floor level throughout Europe. Significant differences resulting from specific traditions and cultures of labour relations and labour market organisation. 16

17 Observations / Lessons Social dialogue aiming to improve working conditions has to be closely connected with the shop-floor level. The work of employee interest representation bodies at the company level is extremely demanding; SMEs tend to have a works council chair on a part-time basis, as well as a lack of personnel support resources. Actors at the company level need to have a role to play and responsibility to fulfil (debate: formal – informal). 17

18 Observations / Lessons: However The role of different actors as initiators and driving forces very much depends on: - Sometimes the sectoral or even national social partners are the major drivers of improvement (measures for older workers, further training … stress agreement). - On other occasions, the management side is the main driving force (‘zero-accident strategies’). - Elsewhere, employees appear to be more influential (issues concerning work–life balance and working time organisation). 18

19 Small business and working conditions What matters To see real improvements in the quality of working conditions / industrial relations different actors have to : - work together to achieve joint interests, a shared understanding of expectations of a win–win situation. - make the case that better working conditions may lead to better performance. - recognise that good health of the workforce is as well good business. - develop acceptance, mutual trust and understanding. - show open-mindedness from the part of both social partners. - present a strong and pragmatic orientation towards problem solving. 19

20 Small business and working conditions First Conclusions Working conditions in small business often differ. Industrial relations are frequently of an “informal” nature. Each case is unique / Simple conclusions can seldom be drawn. Activation of “enabling resources” to overcome small business difficulties is necessary. For joint initiatives and good implementation of legislation / agreements, formal structures are of help. Social dialogue is an instrument for change. 20

21 Small business and working conditions: Eurofound research findings Many thanks for your attention! 21


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