Labour law developments continue to shift as a result of the pandemic and will continue to affect many aspects of workplace practices, such as workers’ mandatory vaccination, hybrid and remote work, travel restrictions as well as a focus on ensuring access to the labour market, importantly for underserved workers. We thus expect a more diverse range of employment legislation to come into effect for more sustainable employment practices.
Labour market interventions
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of work and employment markets have undergone significant changes. Trade tensions, political uncertainty and disrupted supply chains made for some of the crisis' unprecedented impact on the labour market. We have seen unprecedented government interventions in the labour market and we can expect these to continue into the future. Policy had and will continue to play a significant role with a new set of employment rules and rising restrictions, often counter-intuitively standing in the way of increased flexibility.
European legal and policy frameworks are being adapted to allow for updated labour conditions. The EU Work-life Balance Directive entered into force in 2019 and there is a new proposal for pay transparency and equal pay for equal work as part of President von der Leyen’s agenda. The European Commission’s proposed directive on improving the conditions of platform work is another example of a policy initiative to regulate alternative employment forms. In its proposal the European Commission states that: “the sustainable growth of the platform economy therefore requires improved legal clarity for platforms and better working conditions for people working through platforms” (EC platform work proposed directive). (For more on platform work, see our paper “Delivery Pending” as well as our work on the Reshaping Work project)
The emergence of diverse forms of work and new ways to perform work such as via remote work, enabled by digital technologies, offers the opportunity for skills development and better work life balance. (For more on remote work, see our paper). Many countries are ramping up policies to meet those new realities.
Public pressure for greater sustainability, and workplace demands for more transparency
In light of employee demands for greater transparency and public pressure for more sustainability, we need a new social contract that aligns with the growing new environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. At the Adecco Group, we believe that a Social Contract provides a frame for a set of expectations and responsibilities from each labour market stakeholder: be it employers, workers, and governments. Realigning those – as they have greatly evolved - will allow for a more peaceful and productive working world.
Even before the pandemic, demographics and digital disruption were posing a threat to the talent pool and forced us to reconsider our existing expectations and responsibilities. But adaptive leaders acknowledge the significant changes in workers’ preferences and behaviours caused by the pandemic. With the new demographic shifts, there will be a significant impact on the labour market over the next few years. Legislative initiatives and legislators will need to consider flexibility and adaptability while providing security to those who need it most. Any rules that are too rigid will hinder resilience and the fluidity of the labour market.