Decent Work: Opportunities and Challenges 180117587X, 9781801175876

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Decent Work: Opportunities and Challenges
 180117587X, 9781801175876

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Decent Work

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Decent Work: Opportunities and Challenges EDITED BY FIONA CHRISTIE Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

MARILENA ANTONIADOU Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

KEVIN ALBERTSON Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

And MARK CROWDER Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

Emerald Publishing Limited Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK First edition 2021 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited Reprints and permissions service Contact: [email protected] No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. Any opinions expressed in the chapters are those of the authors. Whilst Emerald makes every effort to ensure the quality and accuracy of its content, Emerald makes no representation implied or otherwise, as to the chapters’ suitability and application and disclaims any warranties, express or implied, to their use. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN: 978-1-80117-587-6 (Print) ISBN: 978-1-80117-586-9 (Online) ISBN: 978-1-80117-588-3 (Epub)

We dedicate this book to: Colleagues in the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University who have enabled its creation. All those in Society who are campaigning to secure Decent Work as a key building block for the post-pandemic recovery.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables


About the Contributors


List of Contributors


Part 1 Setting the Scene: Decent Work Chapter 1 Prologue – In Search of Decent Work Marilena Antoniadou, Mark Crowder, Fiona Christie and Kevin Albertson


Chapter 2 What Is Decent Work? A Review of the Literature Lucy Brill


Chapter 3 The History and Future of Work Kevin Albertson, Christina Purcell and Richard Whittle


Chapter 4 The Development of the Decent Work Scale as a Cross-cultural Measure of Decent Work Vanessa Dodd and Ciaran Burke


Part 2 Organizational and Policy Drivers: Opportunities for Decent Work Chapter 5 Decent Work: Gender and Equal Opportunity Policies and Outcomes Maria Allen



Table of Contents

Chapter 6 The Role of International and Integrated Sustainability Frameworks in Enhancing Decent Work and Employee Value Janet Haddock-Fraser


Chapter 7 Entrepreneurship Skills Needs and Policies: Contribution to Decent Work Sumona Mukhuty and Steve Johnson


Part 3 Atypical Jobs: A Challenge to Decent Work Chapter 8 Indecent Work? The Rise of Digital Platform Work in France and the United Kingdom Christina Purcell and Reece Garcia


Chapter 9 Musicians’ Work: Creativity, Community and Insecurity 113 Jason Woolley and Fiona Christie Chapter 10 Structural Barriers to Achieving Decent Work in the Greek Hospitality Industry: A Critical Employment Relations Approach Orestis Papadopoulos


Chapter 11 Epilogue – Preparing for the ‘New Normal’ Mark Crowder, Marilena Antoniadou, Kevin Albertson and Fiona Christie




List of Figures and Tables

Figure 6.1. Figure 6.2.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Integrated Reporting Framework (I,IR.F).

71 77

Table 6.1.

Sustainable Development Goal 8 Targets and Decent Work for All. Platform Workers in Selected European Countries.

72 102

Table 8.1.

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About the Contributors

Kevin Albertson is Professor of Economics at Manchester Metropolitan University with a background in statistics and political economics. He is co-author/editor of five books, including the Haynes Guide ‘How to Run the Country’. Kevin’s recent work considers the impact of globalized liberal markets on the politicaleconomic prospects of the UK; the ways, means and implications of privatization and marketization in the public sector; and the development of social, and responsible, innovation. Dr Maria Allen is a Principal Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. Maria’s research interests lie in the areas of employee voice, gender, equal opportunity and diversity management policies, comparative capitalisms and institutions. She has published in leading journals such as British Journal of Management, International Journal of Human Resource Management and SocioEconomic Review. Within the Faculty of Business and Law she has held a number of management posts and is currently the Faculty Lead for Employability, having responsibility for the employability strategy of the Faculty and enabling her to implement interventions to enhance student employability. Dr Marilena Antoniadou is a Reader at the Department of People and Performance of Manchester Metropolitan University. She specializes in the role of emotions and emotional (self-)management in the workplace. She is the holder of the Newer Researchers Award for 2015 by the Society of Research into Higher Education. She is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Chartered Academic member of the CIPD, a member of the CMI, a Certified Management and Business Educator and a committee member of North-West committee of the Association for Business Psychology. She has published within the fields of educational management and organizational psychology. Dr Lucy Brill is the Director of the international gender and labour rights NGO, Homeworkers Worldwide (HWW). She joined HWW in 2017, initially leading a study of working conditions in UK garment manufacturing, and completing gender reviews for two corporate members of the UK’s Ethical Trading Initiative. Lucy’s doctoral thesis (Bradford, 2004) explored gender and precarious work within a globalizing world, based on fieldwork in the UK and Chile. Prior to rejoining HWW in 2017 she worked for Oxfam on poverty in the UK (2007–2014), and as a researcher at universities in Bradford (2003–2007) and Manchester (2015–2017).


About the Contributors

Dr Ciaran Burke is an Associate Professor of Higher Education at the University of the West of England. His research focuses on access to higher education and graduate employment. Adopting a Bourdieusian theoretical lens, he has published extensively on issues including graduate employment, social justice and social theory. Dr Fiona Christie is a Careers Professional who has moved into a research career. She is a Researcher in the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her professional life included advice and guidance, teaching and management in higher education. Her research areas include career studies, higher education, employability, graduate careers, and young people’s working lives. She is the director of Research and Knowledge for the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services and is a Fellow of the National Institute of Careers and Educational Counselling. Dr Mark Crowder is Education Lead for the Department of Strategy, Enterprise and Sustainability at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK. He is also a Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Business Psychology. He has more than 20 years’ management experience, and studied at Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Liverpool before gaining his PhD in cognitive psychology at the University of Chester. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. Mark’s research interests are split between educational management and cognitive psychology. Vanessa Dodd is a Principal Lecturer within the School of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University. Her research interests are survey design, the HE student experience, school to work transitions and working lives. She received her degrees from Clemson University where she trained as an Applied Sociologist. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Dr Reece Garcia is a Senior Lecturer of Employment Relations and HRM at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research focuses primarily on the effects of redundancy, both in terms of identity and behavioural responses, particularly through the lens of gender and class. Situated in the People and Performance department, Reece is also interested in what constitutes ‘decent work’ in the contemporary labour market. Professor Janet Haddock-Fraser is Professor of Sustainability and Leadership at Manchester Metropolitan University and a Board member for the (1) Land Trust and (2) Peak District National Park Authority, in both of which she focuses on human resources and social–environmental sustainability. Between 2016 and 2020 she was Chair of Trustees for the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), a role which included judging Green Gown awards for sustainability reporting using the SDGs and Integrated Reporting. Her research spans leadership and decision-making for sustainability in its widest sense, with outputs including Leadership for Sustainability in Higher Education, 2018 (Bloomsbury), and WTO and Environmental Related International Trade Disputes, 2019 (World Scientific).

About the Contributors


Professor Steve Johnson is Professor of Entrepreneurship at Sheffield Hallam University. His research focuses on the role of entrepreneurship and SMEs in job creation and economic development and the impact of policies to promote entrepreneurship and skills development at local and regional levels. He has published widely in journals including Work, Employment and Society and Human Relations, and he has undertaken applied research, evaluation and consultancy projects for several UK government departments and agencies, the European Union and OECD. His recent work explores the impact of research on policy and practice, with a particular focus on the role of business schools. Dr Sumona Mukhuty is a Principal Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research interests include SME growth, leadership, humanitarian issues, workplace emotions and health care. She has worked on projects funded by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, UK and the European Fund. She is a member of the Research Centre for Decent Work and Productivity, and has worked as the Work in Small Enterprise platform lead. She is currently, Chair of the Organisational Psychology, special interest group at the British Academy of Management (BAM). She has also received awards for her research, from the Northern Leadership Academy and BAM. Dr Orestis Papadopoulos is a Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management and Employment Relations at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research includes comparative employment relations, trade unions, political ideologies, youth employment, precarious work and violation of employment rights. His research has featured in academic journals including European Journal of Industrial relations, Economic and Industrial Democracy and Industrial Relations Journal. Dr Christina Purcell is Lecturer in the Department of People and Performance at Manchester Metropolitan University and a member of the Work and Working Lives platform of the university’s Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre. She has researched and published papers on agency labour in France and more recently had work published on the platform economy. Her interests lie in the changing forms of work under neoliberalism and how precarious work in experienced and responded to across variegated national forms of capitalism. Dr Richard Whittle is a Principal Lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is an economist who teaches economics at all levels as well as on various professional and industry qualifications. Following a research career in industry where his consultancy reports were used to develop firms’ strategy in negotiating with local government throughout the UK, he entered academia and completed a PhD in Economics and Econometrics at the University of Keele. Dr Jason Woolley is a part-time Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, Science and ˆ University. His PhD was sponsored through competitive Technology at Glyndwr bursary by MYRIAD (Manchester) and awarded by Manchester Met in 2011. Research interests include employability in the Creative Industries and beyond.


About the Contributors

Jason is also a practising professional musician and works freelance composing and producing music and sound from his own professional studio called Wanderlust Sound ( His music and sound productions have been published and broadcast by the BBC, ITV, RSL Awards, Trinity College London, Music Sales Ltd, Fortuna Pop and more.

List of Contributors

Kevin Albertson Maria Allen Marilena Antoniadou Lucy Brill Ciaran Burke Fiona Christie Mark Crowder Vanessa Dodd Reece Garcia Janet Haddock-Fraser Steve Johnson Sumona Mukhuty Orestis Papadopoulos Christina Purcell Richard Whittle Jason Woolley

Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Director, Homeworkers Worldwide University of the West of England, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Nottingham Trent University, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Sheffield Hallam University, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Manchester Metropolitan University, UK ˆ University, United Kingdom Glyndwr

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Part 1 Setting the Scene: Decent Work

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Chapter 1

Prologue – In Search of Decent Work By the Editors – Marilena Antoniadou, Mark Crowder, Fiona Christie and Kevin Albertson

Abstract ‘Decent work’. The very phrase conjures up a range of images and interpretations. But what does it mean for practitioners? What does it mean for academics? Much has been spoken, and even more has been written, but there is still little consensus as to how these questions can be answered. This book aims to offer some answers by exploring the increasingly relevant topic of Decent Work from a range of perspectives. This initial chapter introduces readers to the purpose, rationale and structure of the book. It offers a description of the concept of Decent Work and introduces readers to the work of the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre of Manchester Metropolitan University. Keywords: Decent Work; working lives; productivity; gig economy; equality; atypical work; employment

An Introduction to Decent Work By the term ‘work’, we mean an individual’s offering of their time to undertake paid employment or self-employment. These offers of ‘time for money’ or ‘time for resources’ take place in the ‘labour market’, a theoretical construct in which suppliers of time are matched with those who have a demand for labour services holders and means of compensation such as finance or other resources. At the time of writing, the labour market is undergoing radical transformations, with the global economy in a four-decade long synchronized slowdown (Dorling, 2020; Lea, 2019) and with the number of ‘good jobs’ (jobs that give a measure of security of income to allow workers to plan for the future) being sufficient for only one-third of the adult population around the world (Gallup, 2019). Moreover, the unprecedented circumstances resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic are threatening to exacerbate a crisis in employment, potentially

Decent Work, 3–10 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211001


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reducing wages and salaries, decreasing the safety of working conditions, impacting on the treatment workers can expect and impinging on employee mental health. As in any market, in the labour market the gains from trade are more easily realized by those who hold market power. The concequences of the pandemic on the labour market, reduce the demand for labour impacts on relative power imbalances in the market. This heightens the risks of employers misusing the power; power that arises from controlling a scarce resource (access to the means of production). As a consequence, there is the potential for employers to shift the costs and burdens of the pandemic onto workers. The current crisis also alters the routine of employees, for example, the need of carers of the vulnerable to engage in physical distancing and/or parents to engage in homeschooling. Yet employees risk disciplinary action or dismissal if they fail to turn up to their place of work even where government guidelines recommend they are to stay at home in order to avoid serious and imminent danger. In contrast, others are required to work in environments where adequate protective equipment is not provided and physical distancing rules are not strictly adhered to. Clearly, individual employees cannot reasonably be expected to avert the danger posed by Covid-19; nonetheless, the crisis should also not deprive them of their basic right to safe working conditions. Amidst such radical changes in the world of work, international organizations, global leaders and scholars have provided much needed guidelines about the quality of work that people should be able to access in contemporary society (ILO, 1999, 2013, 2017; Yoshida & Torihara, 1977). Their guidance has yielded an aspirational statement about the kind of work that ought to define the lives of all individuals who work and who wish to work: Decent Work. The concept of Decent Work conveys the broad and varied dimensions associated with work today and encapsulates them in an expression that everyone can appreciate. But what does the concept of Decent Work really cover? And what might be the current issues and future progress of Decent Work globally? As a means of answering these questions and creating a knowledge base that will help to foster relevant research, we have instigated this book, which has been written to help academics, managers and those aspiring to a career in management, and workers themselves to understand and deal with the issues and opportunities they face in offering or achieving Decent Work in contemporary contexts. A unique aspect of this book is the integration of empirical real-life cases from experienced professionals and leading academics that offer readers a greater understanding of Decent Work issues and opportunities. We explore issues surrounding Decent Work for individuals, organizations and society as a whole and what can be done to shape a decent future for workers and work. Decent Work is paid employment where the return will at least sustain a person’s life and provide sufficient additional resources to allow them to take part in society and achieve reasonable human aspirations. However, the concept is more holistic than mere subsistence. Decent Work is not just about employment and social and income security in the formal economy but is also relevant in

Prologue – In Search of Decent Work


framing questions and discussions about unregulated wage workers and the selfemployed. It cannot be assumed, of course, that the labour market will naturally deliver work of a quality or quantity that is decent. Since the 1980s, increasing global competition has resulted in pressure being applied to working conditions generally. The workers’ democratic means to resist has been weakened by legislation undermining trade unions and privatization and marketization combining to make even public sector jobs increasingly precarious. Such pressure is systemic, as employers struggle to survive in the face of downward pressure on prices from global competition. There is special emphasis in the book on the changing nature of the current workplace with a focus on the gig economy, precarious work and the informal economy. In particular, the book explores the growing interest in critically appraising claims of a growing so-called ‘gig economy’ of informal employment, looking at who this affects most and how, and critical reviews of the productivity of this way of using labour. At the time of writing, the Covid-19 pandemic was underway, a situation that has disproportionately affected people in lower-paid jobs and those working in ‘essential’ sectors. Indeed, it has highlighted that often those who carry out the most essential jobs are also amongst the less well paid. Challenges for such workers are addressed in the chapters on atypical and gig economy workers. Moreover, the book includes chapters that examine contemporary human resource practices and evaluate their impact on productivity and the quality of working life; it also highlights the extent to which current employment relationships enable workers to influence the quality of their work experience and their productivity. It further investigates the extent to which the rewards available from work are both fair and equitable and drive worker productivity. Finally, it includes research that portrays how sustainability thinking and reporting has evolved in recent years to include staff/employees and discusses how this enables the co-evolution of wider sustainability action alongside enhanced Decent Work practices.

Centre for Decent Work and Productivity This book is informed by the research of the members of the Centre for Decent Work and Productivity of the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. The Centre was established in 2018, bringing together researchers in human resource management, organizational behaviour, economics, business strategy, entrepreneurship, career development and equality and diversity to think across disciplines about the future of work. The book has grown from material originally prepared to promote the work of the Centre. Its motivation is to address, at this time of global change, the shortfall in academic literature adequately to cover the Decent Work and productivity agenda. The Centre comprised four knowledge platforms considering different aspects of employment with respect to:


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(1) (2) (3) (4)

Work and working lives; Work capabilities, innovation and productivity; The Sylvia Pankhurst Gender and Diversity Research Centre; and Work in small enterprises.

From each of the above areas, members of the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre acted as contributors to this book and consider the application of ideas and practices on stakeholder and identity groupings (e.g. in relation to gender, class, ethnicity, disability, age, occupation) and in different settings (e.g. small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs], industries, countries). Additional contributors are co-authors with Research Centre members. In sum, the book discusses the concept of Decent Work, which conveys components of employment, social protection, workers’ rights and social dialogue. Specifically, it integrates research from the four knowledge platforms of the Centre and contains chapters that cover a range of challenges, which Decent Work and productivity face. Collectively, the knowledge platforms also address the seven challenges, which we believe Decent Work faces, and relate to areas of specialism within the Centre. These are: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

The Changing Nature of Work; Workplace Well-being; Vulnerable Workers in Employment and Self-Employment; Creating Greater Diversity and Social Mobility in the Workplace; Generating Decent and Productive Work in Small Enterprises; Designing Decent and Productive Work in Health and Social Care; Using Knowledge to Generate Decent Work and Productivity for All.

The above challenges are integral to the chapters from multiple authors who are experienced and well-recognized in this field. The aim of this book is to highlight a collection of key challenges and suggest ways to tackle these challenges, with the main intention to promote and raise awareness on Decent Work. The book combines chapters from authors who see the concept of Decent Work from different angles, but with the same aspiration to see both the concept and the realization of Decent Work flourish in the formal and informal economic arena. There are implications for senior management and policymakers who might facilitate new approaches for operationalizing Decent Work.

Book Structure Following on from this first introductory Chapter, Part 1 of the book sets the scene of Decent Work; an overview of debates about the concept is provided in Chapter 2; the history and future of work from a social, economic and political perspective is explored in Chapter 3; and Chapter 4 looks at the concept of Decent Work from a psychological perspective.

Prologue – In Search of Decent Work


Part 2 includes chapters on several opportunities for stimulating Decent Work, namely: equal opportunity policies and outcomes in Chapter 5; the role of employee value and sustainability thinking in Chapter 6; and the ways that entrepreneurship skills can be developed to facilitate Decent Work in Chapter 7. Part 3 emphasizes the widespread prevalence of atypical jobs as one of the main challenges of Decent Work. The employment regulation of gig work is discussed in Chapter 8, by comparing two distinct geographic contexts. In Chapter 9, we explore work patterns for self-employed contemporary musicians in the United Kingdom, and in Chapter 10, we utilize a critical employment relations approach to evaluate precarious work in the tourism and hospitality industry in Greece. Ultimately, Chapter 11, our Epilogue, summarizes key issues covered in the book and considers how research may continue to influence the Decent Work agenda so that it can clearly and forcefully set standards for work that is safe, secure, meaningful, dignified and consistent with the best aspects of the human spirit. There follows an outline of the chapters with a brief description of each.

Part 1 – Setting the Scene: Decent Work Chapter 1: Introduction By Marilena Antoniadou, Mark Crowder, Fiona Christie, Kevin Albertson. We begin by introducing the readers to the purpose, structure and style of the book. Specifically, Chapter 1 offers a description of the concept of Decent Work and introduces the work of the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre of the Manchester Metropolitan University. These elements enable readers to gain a comprehensive introduction to the emerging field of Decent Work and appreciate its growth and influence in the contemporary workplace. Chapter 2: What Is Decent Work? A Review of the Literature By Lucy Brill. The literature surrounding the concept of Decent Work is reviewed in this chapter, beginning with its adoption by the International Labour Organization as its primary objective in 1999 within the context of neoliberal globalization and the increasing precariatization of work. The analysis examines the concept from its historical perspective and then moves onto explaining how varied scholars and policymakers have sought to define and extend the concept of Decent Work. It concludes with a brief review of attempts to operationalize the concept and remove barriers to Decent Work; also drawing upon policy documents and grey literature focused on related terms such as good work and job quality. Chapter 3: The History and Future of Work By Kevin Albertson, Christina Purcell and Richard Whittle. The historical background of work from a social, economic and political perspective forms the narrative of this chapter. In the beginning of the supply of and demand for work and of industrial relations is considered on a macro-temporal


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scale. Taking an historical perspective, the authors review the beginning of work and industrial relations from stone-age economics until today, when the pandemic has caused disruption and loss of jobs. Lessons from the past encourage the authors to draw conclusions about the future of (Decent) work. Chapter 4: The Development of the Decent Work Scale as a Cross-cultural Measure of Decent Work By Vanessa Dodd and Ciaran Burke. The chapter explores the development of an individual-level measure of Decent Work. It further discusses the importance of a psychological perspective on Decent Work to better understand working lives and outline the findings from the validation studies of a Decent Work Scale in eight countries. The potential uses and limitations of the Decent Work Scale are considered, together with the challenges to conceptualizing Decent Work more generally.

Part 2 – Organizational and Policy Drivers: Opportunities for Decent Work Chapter 5: Decent Work: Gender and Equal Opportunity Policies and Outcomes By Maria Allen. The potential causes of inequality for different genders in employment are reviewed in this chapter. It particularly highlights how the persistence of the gender pay gap in the United Kingdom and in other countries suggests that there is no simple explanation for the disparities in pay between men and women. The author suggests that theories and empirical analyses need to be extended to identify other potential causes of pay discrimination. Chapter 6: The Role of International and Integrated Sustainability Frameworks in Enhancing Decent Work and Employee Value By Janet Haddock-Fraser. The chapter shares an appreciation of the interdependencies between human and physical systems to drive forward positive change. It emphasizes on how employees interact with the wider sustainability agenda for the benefit of themselves and their welfare and well-being, as well as that of their employers, the planet and wider society. Chapter 7: Entrepreneurship Skills Needs and Policies: Contribution to Decent Work By Sumona Mukhuty and Steve Johnson. The relationship between entrepreneurship skills and Decent Work, and how policy can help achieve this is explored in this chapter. The authors review the entrepreneurship skills literature in the context of Decent Work, highlighting the key entrepreneurship skills needed in small enterprises. They extract lessons from selected policy initiatives in countries with broad similarities and draw on peer-reviewed journals and key United Nations and global entrepreneurship platform publications. The analysis concludes that, to develop and retain even a

Prologue – In Search of Decent Work


semblance of Decent Work, entrepreneurs need to develop appropriate skills; there is a need for suitable policy addressing this.

Part 3 – Atypical Jobs: A Challenge to Decent Work Chapter 8: Indecent Work? The Rise of Digital Platform Work in France and the United Kingdom By Christina Purcell and Reece Garcia. Platform work in two European countries, France and the United Kingdom, is examined in this chapter, which examines the similarities and differences of platform work across a number of dimensions. The numbers of platform workers are increasing, and the authors recognize both the flexibility and perceived autonomy of platform work, yet highlight the necessity of a range of measures to combat the negative aspects of this work. The authors further review government responses in the United Kingdom and France, which have been influenced not only by industrial relations and regulatory contexts but also by the ideological outlook of successive governments. Chapter 9: Musicians’ Work: Creativity, Community and Insecurity By Jason Woolley and Fiona Christie. The evolving nature of work patterns and income streams for contemporary musicians in the United Kingdom is examined in this chapter. Specifically, it explores the experiences of independent, portfolio career musicians working in the Rock/Pop/Indie/Jazz Live Music scene. The authors discuss how these musicians utilize informal community mechanisms to navigate poor working conditions, value ‘dignity’ and ‘meaningfulness’ above remuneration, and yet often default to individualist assumptions regarding career success. Chapter 10: Structural Barriers to Achieving Decent Work in the Greek Hospitality Industry: A Critical Employment Relations Approach By Orestis Papadopoulos. This chapter illustrates the implications of labour market reforms for workers, through their own accounts, and unravels the antagonistic and conflict-driven elements of the employment relationship. Using evidence from the Greek hospitality industry, the chapter outlines the significant challenges that the Decent Work agenda faces in the hospitality industry even in the more regulated Greek context where unions are present and collective agreements still exist. The chapter further makes reference to how the global Covid-19 pandemic has affected the Greek hospitality industry. Chapter 11: Conclusion By Mark Crowder, Marilena Antoniadou, Kevin Albertson and Fiona Christie. In this final chapter, the editors present their epilogue. They summarize the book’s contribution and conclude with the implications, interactions between and future of Decent Work and Productivity.


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The book is prepared and written by members of the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre – grounded by high-quality research. Our unique blend of authors (who come from disciplines including economics, labour market studies, organization studies, sociology, psychology, career development and education) positions our book well to contribute to important questions about the future of work. It makes a unique contribution, in an emerging field with burgeoning interest. Therefore, our hope is that readers will find this book relevant to their existing or potential work, regardless of where they live, helping them understand the nature, challenges and opportunities of fair and decent working lives.

References Dorling, D. (2020). Slowdown: The end of the great acceleration–And why it’s good for the planet, the economy, and our lives. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Gallup. (2019). 2019 global great jobs briefing. Retrieved from analytics/268787/gallup-global-great-jobs-briefing-2019.aspx. Accessed on February 9, 2021. International Labour Organization [ILO]. (1999). Report of the director-general: Decent work. Proceedings of the international labour conference, 87 session. Geneva: International Labour Organization. International Labour Organization (ILO). (2013). Decent work indicators: Guidelines for procedures and users of statistical and legal framework indicators (2nd ed.). Geneva: International Labour Office. Retrieved from groups/public/—dgreports/—integration/documents/publication/wcms_229374.pdf. Accessed on February 9, 2021. International Labour Organization (ILO). (2017). World employment social outlook: Trends 2017. Geneva: International Labour Office. Retrieved from wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_ 541211.pdf. Accessed on February 9, 2021. Lea, R. (2019). The IMF downgrades global growth again for 2019, slowest pace since the financial crisis. Growth, 130(7), 1–21. Yoshida, K., & Torihara, M. (1977). Redesigning jobs for a better quality of working life: The case of the Tokyo Gas Co. International Labour Review, 116, 139.

Chapter 2

What Is Decent Work? A Review of the Literature Lucy Brill

Abstract This chapter reviews the literature surrounding the concept of decent work, beginning in 1999 with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) decision to adopt the term as its primary goal, bringing together ‘four strategic objectives: the promotion of rights at work; employment; social protection; and social dialogue’ (Somavia, 1999, p. 6). Historical perspectives contrast decent work with ‘dignified work’, championed by more radical voices (Spooner & Waterman, 2015; Standing, 2008), but remind us that the organization’s capacity to advance a radical agenda has always been constrained by its tripartite nature (Moore, Dannreuther, & Mollmann, 2015). Whilst some have critiqued decent work as lacking methodological precision (Burchell, Sehnbruch, Piasna, & Agloni, 2014), feminist scholars welcome its breadth, arguing that this has made space on the ILO’s agenda for the protection of informal forms of employment where women workers are often over-represented (Prugl, 1999; Vosko, 2002). Psychologists argue that the ILO’s concept of decent work can be enhanced by a focus on the lived experience of the individual worker, maintaining that the meaning and purpose of work are also important issues to consider. Their critique of the ILO’s approach highlights the breadth of the concept and the challenges operationalising it, particularly across very different contexts (Di Fabio & Blustein, 2016). The term decent work also appears in the extensive political economy/international development literature analyzing the expansion of global value chains and their more nuanced re-versioning as global production networks. This body of work highlights the link between decent work (or its absence), the rise of transnational corporations and corresponding hollowing out of labour conditions along global supply chains, leading to increasing flexibilization/precarity as companies seek to maintain competitiveness (See, for example, Gereffi, Humphrey, Kaplinsky, and Sturgeon (2001). The chapter also includes a brief introduction to some Decent Work, 11–26 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211002


Lucy Brill of the attempts by the ILO and others to enable more of the world’s workforce to access decent work – themes which will be expanded further in later chapters of this book. Keywords: Decent work; precarity; ILO; history of decent work; good work; quality work

Introduction This chapter reviews the literature surrounding the concept of decent work and is based on a desk-based study of academic sources, research institutions and grey literature from policymakers and think tanks, completed in April 2019. The first section provides a historical analysis of the concept, taking as its starting point the decision of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1999 to adopt decent work as its primary objective (Somavia, 1999), and their subsequent attempts over the next 20 years, to operationalize it.1 The sources in this section include both ILO perspectives and critiques from academics and activists. The second section explores academic analyses of the concept of decent work, including the work of political economists, feminist and psychological scholars. The term also appears within the substantial literature analyzing global value chains (GVCs) and global production networks (GPNs), often based on empirical work exploring the extent to which economic globalization has enabled work to become more ‘decent’. In reviewing this literature, it is important to remember that we are exploring the ways in which people have researched and thought about work and employment over a twenty-year period, in many different countries and contexts. These debates also cut across several disciplines, ranging from economics, sociology and international development to social policy and psychology, and reflect different research methodologies and approaches, carried out both by academics and by other institutions with differing missions, resources and expertise. They also intersect with and impact upon the many changes taking place in the wider world, economically, socially and politically, in both ‘developed’ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and ‘developing’ countries in the Global South.

Historical Origins Athanou (2010) suggests that the term decent work originated from Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which states: …everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work … to remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity. (United Nations, 1948, quoted in Athanou, p. 36)

What Is Decent Work? A Review of the Literature


In 1999, the Director General of the ILO, Juan Somavia, adopted decent work as the organization’s central goal, defining it as: …promot(ing) opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity … Decent work is the converging focus of all (of the ILO’s) four strategic objectives: the promotion of rights at work; employment; social protection; and social dialogue. (Somavia, 1999, p. 6) For Gerry Rodgers, a leading policy researcher at the ILO during this period, it was important to recognize that these four objectives were inter-dependent: Promoting employment without considering the quality and content of those jobs is no recipe for progress. Promoting rights at work without worrying about whether or not there is work for those who want it is equally fruitless. Representation and social dialogue are needed to ensure that peoples’ voices are expressed and heard. (Rodgers, 2002, p. 4) It is not hard to see why the breadth and aspirational nature (as evidenced, for example, in the title of this ILO video Decent Work: a better world starts here (ILO, 2008)) was an advantage for an international organization seeking to balance the interests of its tripartite members (governments, employers’ organizations and trade unions) and to set a positive agenda that could be implemented in very different work situations across multiple countries in the Global North and the South. Since its adoption by the ILO, decent work has also been incorporated in several other international standards; for example, in 2015 the United Nations (UN) set out 12 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the eighth of which is to ‘promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’ (United Nations, 2015). The UN’s Agenda for Sustainable Development went on to detail 17 indicators which would demonstrate global progress towards this objective, including average hourly pay, the frequency of occupational injuries, the annual growth rate of real gross domestic product (GDP) per employed person (as a proxy for productivity) and the proportion of informal employment in non-agriculture employment (United Nations, 2018).

The Context of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda – And Early Challenges Decent work emerged as an over-arching framework, as a compromise position within the ILO, in response to the far-reaching changes that were taking place within the world of work during the latter part of the twentieth century. On the one hand, workers’ representatives were increasingly aware of the rapid expansion


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of global supply chains drawing on manufacturing and food suppliers based in the Global South, and the consequences of these developments for workers and communities. Increasing global competition resulted in the ‘hollowing out’ of working conditions in both the North and the South, undermining trade unions and combining to make even formal sector jobs increasingly precarious, as employers struggled to survive in the face of downward pressures on prices from global retailers. In contrast, ILO delegates representing both governments and employers were unwilling to take an unequivocal stance against these developments. At the time, national governments in the Global South were competing to attract investment from multinational companies, and the corresponding new jobs that would follow, and as a result, they were increasingly reluctant to sign the legally binding Conventions that had been central to the ILO’s approach up until this point. In 1998, the ILO finally responded to these developments with its Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, committing member states to ‘respect and promote’ certain core principles and rights, irrespective of whether they had formally signed up to the respective ILO Convention. This declaration brought together and effectively relaunched what have become known as the ‘core labour standards’, which included the abolition of forced labour and child labour, alongside freedom of association and the elimination of work-based discrimination. The following year, the ILO embraced the concept of decent work as ‘a more satisfactory framework for globalisation built around opportunities … which can meet reasonable aspirations, in which rights are respected and security and participation assured’ (Rodgers, 2002, p. 2). Whilst Rodgers argued that in a challenging political environment, the focus on decent work was the sensible way to proceed, other voices both within and without of the ILO critiqued the four pillars of Somavia’s decent work agenda, arguing that they were introduced to water down more challenging – or at least more specific – requirements within earlier ILO Conventions, and what they saw as a significant shift from ‘dignified work’ to ‘decent work’ (Spooner & Waterman, 2015; Standing, 2008). These writers argued that the ILO was providing ‘an uncritical response to neo-liberal globalization’ (Spooner & Waterman, 2015, p. 249), and that the focus on core labour standards introduced a minimal ‘social floor’ that did not challenge the increasing precarity of work within global supply chains, providing a convenient shelter behind which multinational companies could hide. Thus, for example, the broad term ‘social dialogue’ is used instead of the more explicit trade union rights to ‘freedom of association and collective bargaining’, and similarly the reference is to social protection, a minimal safety net provided by government rather than the more comprehensive social security, which requires contributions from both employee and employer. In contrast, they proposed a platform that included more challenging commitments such as payment of a living wage, and promotion of freedom of association, collective bargaining and job security. It is important to place this discussion within its historical context and also to recognize that there has always been a tension at the heart of the ILO, due to the organization’s tripartite governance structure, with representatives from

What Is Decent Work? A Review of the Literature


governments and employers’ organizations leading the organization, alongside trade unionists. In addition, the ILO’s own research into the make-up of the global workforce at this time was demonstrating that the majority of workers in the Global South were working informally and, thus, unable to claim the rights laid down in the ILO’s many Conventions, yet workers’ interests were represented in the organization by trade unions whose members were almost exclusively working in formal sector jobs.

Implementing Decent Work When the ILO adopted decent work as its overarching goal in 1999, its then Director General, Juan Somavia initiated a programme of activities, including research to define the concept more precisely, and to investigate how best to achieve decent work in countries of the Global South. Within the organization, Anker, Chernyshev, Egger, Mehran, and Ritter (2002), and Ghai (2003) took up the challenge of operationalizing the concept of decent work, seeking to identify suitable statistical indicators that could be used to compare its prevalence in different parts of the world, and to measure progress towards extending decent work. They were also clear that this analysis needs to pay close attention to gender, an analysis which is only possible if separate data sets are available for men and women. They identified 11 sets of statistical indicators that could be drawn upon to produce a Decent Work Index, to compare the prevalence of decent work within different countries or to monitor progress towards it – although they also highlighted the challenges involved in doing this, notably the subjective judgements involved in weighting the various indicators. These included measures of the availability of work, the incidence of unacceptable forms of work (e.g. forced labour, child labour), as well as measures of earnings, working hours and job security and safety, and also less easily quantifiable issues including fair treatment, social dialogue and social protection (Anker et al., 2002). This work was further developed following the global recession in 2008, when the ILO adopted its Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, and subsequently finalized a Manual that included both statistical and legal indicators of Decent Work, covering 10 subject areas that taken together, enable an assessment of the extent of decent work within a particular place and time (ILO, n.d.-a; 2013). Since the early 2000s, the ILO has also invested significant resources in initiatives working to extend decent work, mainly in developing countries. Numerous 3–5 year ‘Decent Work Country Programmes’, working closely with the UN’s development programme, have been established in many different countries in the Global South and East. These begin with a tripartite diagnostic process leading up to the signing of a Decent Work Agreement, and subsequent implementation of a series of ILO-led interventions to improve decent work within the country (ILO, n.d.-b and 2016). These programmes are routinely evaluated, and significant results reported on the organization’s ‘dashboard’, with the most recent data relating to programmes in 131 countries in 2016–2017 (ILO, n.d.-c).


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Academic Responses to the Concept of Decent Work This section of the chapter explores how academics have viewed decent work, starting with their wider reflections on its historical origins at the ILO, before outlining contrasting analyses from occupational psychologists, international development and feminist scholars. Thus, for example, although Moore et al. (2015) agree with Standing that the decent work agenda marks a move away from the ILO’s founding principles, they point out that the ILO was constituted as a tripartite body, and as such, the extent to which it can advance a radical agenda has always been constrained. Their article reviews the history of the ILO’s commitment to the decent work agenda, and its more recent inclusion within the UN SDGs, before highlighting the way in which the pressure to attract global investment has undermined many governments’ ability to enact or enforce employment regulation, compounded by the erosion of trade union membership. Hauf (2015, p. 150) reflects on these debates from the perspective of cultural political economy, concluding that ‘the decent work discourse is a contradictory ensemble of competing economic imaginaries’, simultaneously providing recognition to precarious workers on the margins of the global economy, whilst also creating an opportunity for the ‘minimum standard approach to decent work’ to legitimize the casualization of global production processes. Clearly, he is not unsympathetic to the concerns of Standing and others, but he also notes that the decent work agenda has been welcomed by development economists such as Barrientos’ (2007, p. 251) who argue that it should be seen as ‘the basis for a more holistic approach to enhancing workers’ rights’, which explicitly includes both those who are working informally, and through its emphasis on social protection, also responds to the needs of many women workers who are juggling paid work with their domestic responsibilities. Feminist scholars welcomed the news that the decent work agenda was accompanied by a ‘new commitment to an integrated gender policy’ (Somavia, 1999, p. 13), and that with this came the vital recognition of the importance of gender disaggregated data. This ensured that the highly gendered distribution of much poor quality work would be made visible, as women workers are more likely to trade decent working conditions for atypical work that is seen as more flexible and, thus, easier to combine with their gendered domestic responsibilities. They also recognized that the breadth of the decent work agenda reflected the emergence of a more inclusive space within the ILO, as the organization sought to extend protection to workers on the margins of the global labour force, who again were often women – through for example, the successful campaign to pass the ILO’s Convention on Homeworking in 1996 (Prugl, 1999; Vosko, 2002). Crucially the point at issue in these debates seems to be whether decent work is a concept which can be used to analyze, and then to resist or reverse what some commentators see as the growing precarity of work, or whether instead it masks these trends and plays down their impact on workers. Advocates of the decent work agenda, therefore, maintained that whilst Somavia’s core objectives can be seen as a dilution of the specific requirements of the earlier ILO Conventions, the numbers of workers who could actually claim these rights were shrinking

What Is Decent Work? A Review of the Literature


by the day, as economic globalization led to the weakening of labour rights enforcement and trade unions in many parts of the world. Furthermore, any objective in a manifesto will always need to be defined further in a given situation, with scope for more specific requirements to be included at this point – thus, for example, the generic ‘rights at work’ could include calls for either a minimum, or the more far-reaching living, wage.

Methodological Critique In contrast, Burchell et al. (2014) critique decent work in methodological terms, claiming that although it is a worthy aspirational goal, it has proved too vague and wide ranging a concept to be analyzed empirically. Their central argument is that the ILO has struggled to produce a clear and concise theoretical definition of decent work, which can then be related to specific empirical indicators which can actually be measured and investigated – for example, by tracking variations between across different countries or changes over time. This process then provides an opportunity to revisit the original theory, which is in turn refined and clarified. Several contributing factors are identified to explain these methodological challenges: firstly, the ILO is working across a wide range of countries, including many with a weaker statistical infrastructure, and as a result, internationally comparable data are hard to secure. Secondly, the tripartite governance structure of the ILO and the influence of both employers’ organizations and national governments created political barriers to the organization’s early attempts to operationalize decent work, as key stakeholders were reluctant to gather sensitive data that could deter future foreign investors. Thirdly, early attempts to breakdown decent work into its component parts included phenomena that exist at different scales, creating further confusion about the level of analysis: are we focussing on individual workers’ personal reflections, or characteristics of particular jobs or the wider regulatory environment of the labour market as a whole (Burchell et al., 2014, p. 464). As a result, precisely because the ILO’s empirical work on decent work has stalled, they argue that the concept remains little more than a normative goal, contrasting decent work with the European Union’s (EU’s) focus on job quality, which began with a similarly vague objective, ‘more and better jobs’ in 2000, but gradually social research has enabled ‘fuzzy and poorly defined concepts … (to) solidif(y) into forms that can inform policy’ (Burchell et al., 2014, p. 473). In conclusion, they suggest that this explains why the concept of decent work has had far less take up in the wider academic literature, in comparison to other issues addressed by the ILO such as the informal sector. A simple comparison of key word searches across key academic sources is then cited in support of their argument, with the informal sector attracting over 250 citations per year (1999–2013) as compared to under 30 for decent work (Burchell et al., 2014, p. 472). However Pereira, Dos Santos, and Pais (2019)’s more recent extensive review of empirical studies of decent work suggests that these claims may no longer be accurate, since they found 689 citations for decent work, possibly reflecting new psychological studies explored in the next section.


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Psychological Perspectives Psychologists have argued that the ILO’s concept of decent work can be enhanced by an approach which recognizes that the worker’s subjective experiences are also important factors to include in assessing decent work (Dodd, Hooley, & Burke, 2019). For example, in their opening chapter of an edited collection of such studies, Blustein, Olle, Connors-Kellgren, and Diamonti (2016, pp. 2, 4) define decent work as ‘fair, dignified, stable and secure’, and as the antidote to precarious work, and then go on to argue that ‘the scaffolding of psychological theory … can create a bridge between (the ILO’s) macro-level perspectives, … and the lived experience of working people’. Their critique of the ILO’s approach to decent work highlights the focus on macro-economic data, and the danger that the term is being used by some to mask the increasing spread of precarious work. These writers suggest that these limitations can be addressed by asking what is the experience of decent work from the perspective of individuals and communities, whilst also recognising that integrating decent work into psychological studies also benefits the latter, bringing a greater awareness of the wider socio-economic context within which the work is taking place. They briefly review the extensive psychological studies linking employment to positive mental health outcomes and then report that studies of ‘precarious work’ do not show the same benefits, leading them to propose that the decent work threshold marks the cut off between employment that bring health benefits and that which does not. Building on Blustein’s earlier work (2006), Duffy, Blustein, Diemer, and Autin (2016) propose an empirical model, the Psychology of Working Theory, as a way to integrate decent work into the psychological literature, based on aspects of decent work as experienced by an individual worker. This model sought to predict both who is able to access decent work, including both socio-economic and psychological variables, and the outcomes of decent work in meeting human needs both for survival (i.e. providing an income, access to health care etc.), and also for social connection and self-determination. Their next step was to develop a Decent Work Scale (DWS) which could then be used to assess to what extent a worker was experiencing decent work, taking account of both objective features of a particular job, such as safe working conditions and adequate pay, and also ‘organizational values that complement family and social values’, which might be taken as a measure of ‘job fit’ (Duffy et al., 2017). Dodd et al. (2019) then set out to apply the DWS in a UK context and to test whether it could also predict job satisfaction, access to meaningful work and whether a person intends to leave their job based on sophisticated statistical analysis of psychological survey data. Pereira et al.’s recent review paper (2019) found similar empirical studies in the United States (Duffy et al. 2017), Portugal, Brazil (Ferraro, Pais, Rebelo dos Santos, Moreira, 2016) and South Africa (Webster, Budlender, & Orkin, 2015). Although these writers developed their ideas in response to a critique of mainstream vocational psychology for its perceived bias towards middle-class workers, and intended that their Psychology of Working Theory would be particularly relevant in explaining the working lives of those living on low incomes and

What Is Decent Work? A Review of the Literature


facing discrimination, it is important to remember that these empirical studies were carried out within countries where there is (to varying degrees) a functioning system of social protection. Dodd et al. (2019) also acknowledge that their survey methods could also over-represent the views of white-collar workers. It would be interesting to see whether studies in low-income countries of the Global South place greater weight on the objective ‘survival’ gains as compared to the more subjective social connection and self-determination attributes of a decent job. To conclude this brief review then, if we return to the ILO’s original approach to decent work, it is important to note that these studies do not reflect the breadth of the original concept, which included factors reflecting labour market conditions (availability of work), as well as the wider regulatory and welfare system (rights at work and access to social protection) and, crucially, social dialogue – a reference to the importance of worker representation and voice, in dialogue with employers and other stakeholders. These are inherently collective processes, whereas in the psychological studies the focus thus far appears to be individual workers’ reflections on their work experience, and the extent to which it meets their needs for social connection and self-determination (notwithstanding these writers’ clear commitment to a critical perspective).

Decent Work versus ‘Good Work’ or Job Quality Until very recently, UK academic sources rarely mention decent work (apart from those with strong trade union links – for example, Wilson, 2017); instead the focus in much of the UK literature is on ‘good work’ or job quality (Gifford, 2020; Irvine, White, & Diffley, 2018; Taylor, Marsh, Nicol, & Broadbent, 2017). Like decent work, job quality in particular has been interpreted in different ways by different researchers, reflecting their distinct intellectual background and research location. Nevertheless, there are some key differences: firstly the fact that the concept of decent work was developed within an international organization, rather than academia, and in particular, one with a focus on the countries of the Global South is likely to be significant. These countries tend to have lower female participation rates and a substantially larger proportion of the population working in the informal economy. In addition, many of the ILO’s attempts to operationalize the term have focussed on quantitative, national-level data, which are easier to measure and compare across geographical regions or over time (ILO, 2013). In contrast, much of the quality of work literature has its roots in either sociological or psychological analyses of work, with a focus on the views of individual workers and their relationships with colleagues and management. As mentioned above, many of these studies have been carried out in OECD countries where the majority of the labour force are in formal jobs and where there is usually some form of social protection for (many of) those who are not. The breadth of the concept of decent work could also be seen as a distinguishing feature, as compared to job quality, as the ILO’s original decent work agenda included wider characteristics such as availability of work and access to social dialogue, alongside actual employment characteristics such as pay and job security. Burchell et al. (2014) also highlight the tensions between criteria that are based


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on individual worker’s perceptions of a good job (which may be affected by, for example, their expectations, or the extent to which their own skills and aspirations fit with the requirements of the job) and ‘objective’ measurable factors, such as pay rates or working hours. These differing analytical frames also reflect the writer’s particular academic discipline, as psychological approaches emphasize the individual experience of the worker whereas sociologists look at employment within wider society.2 As we have seen in the previous section, critical psychologists have sought to integrate these two approaches, arguing that decent work can help to analyze such experiences within their socio-economic context (Dodd et al., 2019; Duffy et al., 2016, 2017). However, our brief review of these innovative approaches in the previous section suggests that as yet, they have paid little attention to the collective dimensions of decent work, such as access to freedom of association or social dialogue.

Decent Work within Global Value Chains A very different approach to the analysis of decent work is found in the extensive literature surrounding the concepts of GVCs, or their more nuanced re-versioning as GPNs, from the fields of political economy and international development (Gereffi et al., 2001; Posthuma, Barrientos, Mayer, & Pickles, 2011). This work highlights the link between decent work (or its absence), the rise of transnational corporations and corresponding hollowing out of labour conditions along global supply chains. The GVC sources highlighted the control of the lead firm over working conditions within their supply chain, with their purchasing practices determining prices paid along the chain and deadlines for orders to be completed. Later, scholars refined this approach with the recognition that although lead firms exert significant control, production actually takes place within a wider GPN, in which local manufacturers and subcontractors, as well as other stakeholders, including local government and civil society organizations also play a part. Whilst many of those researching GPNs highlight the evidence of increasingly precarious, if not to say ‘indecent’ work in these subcontracting chains, the term ‘decent work’ appears only sporadically in this literature, usually in studies that have linked in some way to the ILO – such as, for example, the extensive Capturing the Gains research ( led by the University of Manchester (Bair & Gereffi, 2013; Barrientos, Knorringa, Evers, Visser, & Opondo, 2016; Posthuma et al., 2011; Rossi, 2013). These writers differentiate between economic and social upgrading, where economic upgrading takes place when firms improve their productivity and the value they contribute to the supply chain, and social upgrading is a corresponding improvement in both quality and quantity of work that implied by the term decent work. Their research set out to better understand why social upgrading occurs in some situations but not in others, and also to explore the ways in which both public and private actors have sought to respond to the governance challenges that arise as supply chains cross international boundaries, and lead firms have far greater power than either local employers or labour inspectors to secure improvements in working conditions.

What Is Decent Work? A Review of the Literature


Decent work has been used in very different ways by different stakeholders in these debates. Thus, Hauf (2015), for example, critiques what he calls the ‘business case decent work imaginary’, which he suggests has replaced international labour law with the ‘soft regulation’ provided by private sector codes of conduct. Brands have sought to reduce the risk to their reputation that scandals such as the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, which killed 1,132 garment workers in 2013, can create through private governance systems, ranging from supplier codes of conduct to complex certification and auditing schemes (Mayer & Pickles, 2013). Such schemes have been roundly criticized by activists, who point out for example, that the Rana Plaza complex was audited repeatedly in the months leading up to its collapse (Clean Clothes Campaign, 2019). Academics have also joined these debates; thus for example, although Barrientos & Smith’s (2007) evaluation of the UK’s Ethical Trading Initiative ( found some evidence of progress towards easily measurable ‘outcome standards’ (such as health and safety improvements), they were clear that very little had changed on the ‘process’ issues such as trade union rights or harassment. Others have pointed out that these private governance schemes put all the responsibility for poor working conditions on local suppliers who have to contend with multiple costly audits, each one with its own distinct set of standards, and rarely highlight the brands purchasing practices which are often the root cause of the problems (Dickson, 2018). There are a few examples of more progressive initiatives; for example, in 2010, a group of brands supported calls for an increase in the minimum wage in Bangladesh, leading to an 80% increase (Mayer & Pickles, 2013). A few brands have also signed Global Framework Agreements with international unions, one of the first being the 2007 agreement between the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (now IndustriALL) and Inditex, the Spanish retailer that owns Zara. This in theory guarantees basic labour standards along the brand’s complete supply chain, although implementation does rely on there being an IndustriAll affiliate in the country where a factory is based that workers can turn to if they have a grievance. The ILO has also intervened directly, with the development of the Better Work Programme (, which brings all key stakeholders together, including brands, suppliers and trade unions, to ‘improve working conditions and promote competitiveness in global garment supply chains’ (ILO, 2016). The programme started in Cambodia in 2007 and has since worked in nine countries including Haiti, Indonesia, Jordan, Nicaragua and Vietnam, bringing together governments, multinational companies and their in-country suppliers. Controversially, the programme is funded by the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank), which as Hauf (2015, p. 11) suggests, ‘further exacerbates the contradictions within the decent work discourse’. He argues persuasively that Better Work is effectively providing a free supply chain monitoring programme for the lead retailers involved, but as the requirements are set at a low level (for example, wages are monitored for compliance with legal minima, which in many countries are way below the poverty line or indeed a living wage), and monitoring does not extend beyond the factory to include, for example, piece rate homeworkers whose wages will often be far lower.


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In 2016 the ILO’s 105th International Labour Conference focussed explicitly on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains and saw the launch of ‘The Global Deal for Decent Work and Inclusive Growth’ (, a partnership initiated by the Swedish Prime Minister and developed in cooperation with the ILO and the OECD the same year. This network again sees social dialogue and the right to collective bargaining as the key to extending decent work along global supply chains, thus addressing poverty and inequality and contributing towards the targets set within the SDGs. The Global Deal’s substantial flagship report collates empirical evidence exploring a possible relationship between collective bargaining, sound industrial relations and decent work and productivity (Global Deal, ILO, & OECD, 2018).

Conclusion This chapter starts with a review of the historical origins of the concept of decent work, contested from the very start by its genesis within a tripartite organization seeking to balance the interests of workers, employers and governments. Subsequent sections then explore how academics from different disciplines have viewed the term, starting with social scientists who critique the breadth and aspirational nature of the ILO’s definition of decent work, and also their primarily quantitative and top-down approach, which reflects their tripartite mandate. In contrast, occupational psychologists prioritize the importance of a worker’s subjective assessment of their work and argue that if we pay close attention to the ‘lived experience of working people’, it is then much harder to camouflage the increasing precarity of much contemporary employment as ‘decent work’. The concept of decent work – or the lack of it – also arises as researchers studying development economics have documented the increasing power imbalance between global brands and their much smaller suppliers, increasingly located within the Global South. These studies document how risks resulting from fluctuating consumer demand are passed on to suppliers, who in turn pass these risks on to their workforce, through increasingly precarious working conditions. Decent work has then been re-introduced as a minimum standard for the private regulatory systems introduced by lead brands to respond to consumer concerns and distract attention away from the links between their purchasing practices and the workers’ precarity. Despite these contradictions, it is important to remember that others have welcomed the concept of decent work, arguing that its breadth and inclusivity opens up space for recognition for new groups of workers on the margins of the global economy, many of whom are women. Whilst I concur with Hauf (2015, p. 150) that ‘the decent work discourse is a contradictory ensemble of competing economic imaginaries’, which like other overarching frameworks describing complex and value-based phenomena, has sometimes been undermined, this does not mean it should be rejected. The challenge surely is to develop new and better research that investigates the preconditions that lead to decent work, and identifies new interventions to enable more of the world’s workforce to enjoy it.

What Is Decent Work? A Review of the Literature


Notes 1. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is part of the United Nations’ family of international organizations, founded in 1919 with a tripartite governance structure, with each member country sending representatives from government, their employers’ organization and their national trade union body. 2. This insight was highlighted in discussion at a seminar at the Decent Work and Productivity research centre, where an earlier version of this paper was presented on 20 February 2019.

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Dickson, M. A. (2018). Better BuyingTM Index report, Spring 2018: Purchasing practices performance in apparel, footwear, and household textile supply chains. Retrieved from report_final.pdf Dodd, V., Hooley, T., & Burke, C. (2019). Decent work in the UK: Context, conceptualization, and assessment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 112(March), 270–281. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2019.04.002 Duffy, R. D., Allan, B. A., England, J. W., Blustein, D. L., Autin, K. L., Douglass, R. P., … Santos, E. J. R. (2017). The development and initial validation of the decent work scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64(2), 206–221. doi:10.1037/ cou0000191 Duffy, R. D., Blustein, D. L., Diemer, M. A., & Autin, K. L. (2016). The psychology of working theory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63(2), 127–148. doi:10.1037/ cou0000140 Ferraro, T., Pais, L., Rebelo dos Santos, N., & Moreira, J. M. (2016). The Decent Work Questionnaire: Development and validation in two samples of knowledge workers. International Labour Review, 157(2), 243–265. doi:10.1111/ilr.12039 Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., Kaplinsky, R., & Sturgeon, T. J. (2001). Introduction: Globalisation, value chains and development. IDS Bulletin, 32(3), 1–8. Retrieved from Ghai, D. (2003). Decent work: Concept and indicators. International Labour Review, 142(2), 113–145. doi:10.1111/j.1564-913X.2003.tb00256.x Gifford, J. (2020). CIPD good work Index 2020 UK working lives survey. Retrieved from Global Deal, International Labour OrganizationOrganisation for Economic Cooperaton & Development. (2018). Building trust in a changing world of work: The global deal for decent work and inclusive growth flagship report 2018. Retrieved from—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/ publication/wcms_629764.pdf Hauf, F. (2015). The paradoxes of decent work in context: A cultural political economy perspective. Global Labour Journal, 6(2), 138–155. doi:10.15173/glj.v6i2.2327 International Labour Organisation. (2008). Decent Work : A better world starts here. Retrieved from International Labour Organisation. (2013). ILO Manual on Decent Work Indicators: Guidelines for producers and users of statistical and legal framework indicators. International Labour Organisation. Retrieved from International Labour Organisation. (n.d.-a). Decent work indicators. Retrieved from–en/index.htm International Labour Organisation. (n.d.-b). Decent work country programmes (DWCPs). Retrieved from departments-and-offices/program/dwcp/lang–en/index.htm. Accessed on October 4, 2020. International Labour Organisation. (n.d.-c). Decent work results. Retrieved from

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International Labour Organization. (2016). Progress and Potential : How Better Work is improving garment workers’ lives and boosting factory competitiveness. Retrieved from Irvine, G., White, D., & Diffley, M. (2018). Measuring good work. Retrieved from https:// Mayer, F., & Pickles, J. (2013). Re-embedding the Market: Global apparel value chains, governance and Decent work. In A. Rossi, A. Luinstra, & J. Pickles (Eds.), Towards better work: Understanding labour in apparel global value chains (pp. 17–39). London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. Moore, P., Dannreuther, C., & Mollmann, C. (2015). The future and praxis of decent work. Global Labour Journal, 6(2), 245–252. doi:10.15173/glj.v6i2.2634 Pereira, S., Dos Santos, N., & Pais, L. (2019). Empirical research on decent work: A literature review. Scandinavian Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 4(1), 1–15. doi:10.16993/sjwop.53 Posthuma, A., Barrientos, S., Mayer, F., & Pickles, J. (2011). Decent work in Global production Networks: Framing the policy debate. International Labor Review, 150(3–4), 299–317. doi:10.1177/003693300505000409 Prugl, E. (1999). The global construction of gender: Home-based work in the political economy of the 20th century. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Rodgers, G. (2002). Decent work as a goal for the global economy. In F. Vargas, G. Rodgers, F. Casanova, J. R. Guerrero, & R. Galhardi (Eds.), Training, productivity & decent work (pp. 11–26). Montevideo: International Labour Office. Retrieved from Rossi, A. (2013). Does economic upgrading lead to social upgrading in global production networks? Evidence from Morocco. World Development, 46, 223–233. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2013.02.002 Somavia, J. (1999). Decent work : Report of the Director-General. In 87th International Labour Conference (pp. 80). Retrieved from english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc87/rep-i.htm#1 Spooner, D., & Waterman, P. (2015). The future and praxis of decent work. Global Labour Journal, 6(2), 245–252. doi:10.15173/glj.v6i2.2338 Standing, G. (2008). The ILO: An agency for globalization? Development and Change, 39(3), 355–384. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7660.2008.00484.x Taylor, M., Marsh, G., Nicol, D., & Broadbent, P. (2017). Good work: The Taylor review of modern working practices. Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service. United Nations. (1948). Universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved from https:// United Nations. (2015). Sustainable development goals knowledge platform. UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from United Nations. (2018). Annex: Global indicator framework for the sustainable development goals and targets of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Work of the statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Retrieved from Indicator Framework_A.RES.71.313 Annex.pdf


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Vosko, L. F. (2002). “Decent work”: The shifting role of the ILO and the struggle for global social justice. Global Social Policy, 2(1), 19–46. doi:10.1177/14680181020 02001093 Webster, E., Budlender, D., & Orkin, M. (2015). Developing a diagnostic tool and policy instrument for the realization of decent work. International Labour Review, 154(2), 123–145. doi:10.1111/j.1564-913X.2015.00017.x Wilson, L. (2017). Decent Work in Northern Ireland: The challenge of insecurity and low pay (No. 42). Retrieved from

Chapter 3

The History and Future of Work Kevin Albertson, Christina Purcell and Richard Whittle

Abstract This chapter looks at the history of work from a social, economic and political perspective. It analyzes the beginning of work and of industrial relations, on a global scale. It goes on to speculate on in what way work will evolve in the immediate future, given technological change and ecological pressures. Keywords: Work history; industrial relations; work evolution; industrial revolution; trade unions; precarity

Introduction According to Rousseau (1762 (1920): ch I), ‘Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains’. We may consider, briefly, from where do these chains arise. Not, as some might have it, from the “Dark Satanic Mills” of the industrial revolution. Rather, it is agriculture, not industrialization, that began forging the chains of servitude for many of us (Manning, 2004). The chains, to which Rousseau refers, are built out of asymmetries of power; the power of some, elites, to deny the means of subsistence to those who must ‘earn’ their living through wage labour. Ironically, the historical record indicates that, as workers become more productive, the resulting increased output may be appropriated by elites, thus increasing power imbalances and relatively disadvantaging the workforce. In section 2 of this chapter we illustrate the basics of this relationship by considering the impact on populations of the agricultural revolution. The immediate impact of the industrial revolution is described in section 3. The topic of section 4 is rather the slow political revolution which saw workers beginning to organize and demand better returns to their labour. As section 5 explains, however, the economic and social progress made by working populations in the nineteenth and early to middle twentieth century has halted and even gone into

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reverse under the ideological policy framework of neo-liberalism which returned power, through (so-called) free-markets back to elites. In section 6 we consider the two paths down which future socio-economic policy might take us: either a sharing of the benefits of productivity growth or increasing unemployment and social unrest. Some conclusions are drawn in section 7.

The Origins and Evolution of Work from the Stone Age to the Industrial Revolution In stone age society, hunter-gatherers needed to ‘work’ (not wage work, of course, but accessing food) only about 15 hours per week. They sustained a higher quality of life than is generally recognized (Sahlins, 2017; Manning, 2004) maintaining, for the most part, an ample sufficiency and an admirable ‘work’/life balance. However, about 10,000 years ago a revolution began, the agricultural revolution which was, for most human populations, a disaster (Harari, 2014; Manning, 2004; Scott, 2017). Despite (what economists would term) the significant increase in productivity occasioned by agriculture, the quality of life of those individuals forced to adopt settled lifestyles deteriorated. Archaeological evidence indicates, compared to hunter-gatherers, agriculturalists on average had harder lives with reduced statures, increased dietary stresses and increased mortality rates. As a result of living closer to domesticated animals, agriculturalists also suffered (as we do today) from diseases crossing from animal carriers to human and wreaking havoc in densely crowded populations (Diamond, 1999; Manning, 2004). Thus, as productivity rose, quality of life declined for most of humanity. For settled agriculturalists, compared to nomadic hunter-gatherers, ownership of the land (that is, the right to exclude others from the means of production) is of crucial importance. In the first instance, those dispossessed of ownership lack the means of sustaining themselves and can be coerced into manual work, irrigating fields etc, effectively creating surplus for elites (Scott, 2017). Through taxes and the appropriation of agricultural surplus, complex societies can be funded, allowing specialization into militaristic and religious hierarchies. This gives rise to the ‘three estates’ of the realm: the nobility; the clergy; and the common folk. As humanity gained more power in aggregate, there was more power to be accumulated by elites (Piketty, 2020), and hence (given that power is relative) more to be lost by the majority of humanity. The power of such hierarchies, particularly the nobility (the military), facilitated the expansion of the agriculturalist systems through warfare, leading to the appropriation of further land, forced labour and slavery (Scott, 2017). The foundation of paid work arises therefore from the dispossession of the majority of humanity from the means to sustain themselves and their families. The role of the state, in such a system, is to enforce (ex-post) property rights and to facilitate the elimination of non-market means of subsistence so as to require the individual to justify their existence through engagement with the market (Wood, 2002). This dispossession often takes the form of outright conquest and

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colonization but may take more subtle forms, such as the enclosure acts by which many commoners in England were deprived of their right to utilize common land (Wood, 2002). Such dispossessions were technically legal, reflecting the relative power of the possessed and the dispossessed. As the old English folklore runs: They hang the man, and flog the woman, That steals the goose from off the common; But let the greater villain loose, That steals the common from the goose. (Anonymous, but attributed by Boyle, 2003, p. 33 to Birch, E. 1821, in The Tickler) Fortunately, or perhaps not, at the time many lost the right to live on the land, the factories of the industrial revolution were looking for staff.

From Dark Satanic Mills to the Gilded Age The emergence of the factory system, bringing hundreds, and eventually thousands of workers together under one roof, dramatically transformed work and working lives. Mechanization in textile processing began in earnest in the north of England in the early 1800s and by the 1840s all but eradicated handloom weaving. By the middle of the century, the leading sectors of the economy were mechanized (Calhoun, 1982). Although smaller workshops coexisted alongside larger factories, it was the factories that came to dominate the urban landscape in key industrializing cities and towns such as Birmingham, Manchester and Derby. Life under the factory regime was harsh, characterized by long hours in atrocious conditions, surrounded by dangerous, loud and polluting machinery. Only those compelled by the ‘whip of hunger’ (Weber, 1927) accepted work in factories. Originally the workforce was made up in large part by women and children (Berg, 1993). However, men too were forced into wage labour in factories, as survival through traditional forms of labour became increasingly difficult, and the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 added further to the mass of agricultural labourers competing for low paid agricultural work in an economic sector that was also becoming mechanized, and therefore had less need for labour (Fussell & Compton, 1939). The working conditions within factories drew the attention of reformist and radical thinkers, in particular the conditions and abuses children were subject to leading to parliamentary commissions tasked with investigating child labour. Robert Blincoe’s memoir of a cotton mill is a first-hand account of work in a factory at this time. Blincoe recounts his terror, as a seven-year-old, when faced with the motion and noise of the machinery, and the suffocating effect of the dust and cotton fibres (Brown, 1832). Cotton mills gave rise to new industrial diseases, such as byssinosis, a lung condition caused by fine particles of lint, and gruesome accidents and fatalities caused by dangerous machinery were commonplace. The combination of dangerous working conditions, poverty and poor living conditions in the slums that sprang up in the mill towns meant that life for many nineteenth-century workers was, to use the Hobbesian adage,


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nasty, brutish and short. The impact of poverty and work was palpable – a government spy who was sent to infiltrate radical activity by Lancashire spinners in 1819, described how grown men resembled teenage boys in stature and height, their bodies bent from inhuman working practices and poor diet (Mason, 2007). By centralizing production and bringing labour more fully under the control of those who owned the means of production, the factory signalled a radical transformation of work and the experience of work. Under artisan production and under the home-based putting-out system, the pace and rhythm of work was at the discretion of the worker. Under the factory regime with its concentration of large numbers of workers under one roof, a tightly regulated and disciplined labour regime making possible the extraction of more labour power in order to generate as much profit as possible. The new organization of work, made possible by industrialization, created the conditions for increased exploitation, both through the increase in productive forces as a result of mechanization and by the increasing the amount of labour expended by compelling workers to work for long hours – a working day of 10–12 hours was commonplace. The new regime of temporal discipline, via mechanisms such as the ‘clockingon’ system, backed up by fines for lateness and non-attendance, radically altered working-class lives and introduced working-class communities to the unceasing daily routine of factory life. The Luddite rebellion (1811–1813) against mechanization was not only about the loss of livelihood, it was also a defence of a form of work in which the dialectical tension between work as actualizing and meaningful, and work as alienation and burden, tended towards the former. As more of the labouring classes became dependent upon wage labour for survival, more workers were drawn into a labour process characterized by their alienation from labour and from the product of their labour, since they owned neither the materials nor the tools with which they worked nor the finished product, and no longer were masters or mistresses of their own labour. Work under the new capitalist labour process was reduced to the cash nexus and devoid of any intrinsic satisfaction (Marx & Engels, 1848). In the UK, the power of factory owners over labour was enshrined in law via the 1823 Masters and Servants Act. Prosecutions against workers for breaching the Act were commonplace, not least because the judiciary was peopled by local elites which included factory owners – it was only through later social and legal reforms, underpinned by concepts of mutual obligation and reciprocity, that the balance of power shifted towards the workers (Deakin, 2000). The power wielded by employers and the conditions of work endured by workers led to moral and political opposition, and outrage, from various quarters, from romantic poets and novelists, such as Dickens, to evangelical Christians and liberal politicians, and, of course, from factory workers themselves. In 1832, public concern led to a government enquiry into the child labour, resulting in the Factory Act of 1833 which set limits of the number of hours children could work. Subsequent legislation in the nineteenth century further restricted the work of children, and also women, although adult male workers remained largely unprotected.

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The profound social and economic changes in the nineteenth century gave rise to new economic and political organizations that reflected the concerns of those drawn into new forms of work. In the early days of the trades, union movement, economic demands over pay from both artisan weavers and cotton spinners, interspersed with the political demands of the Chartists, giving rise to the radical unions and societies that sprang up in the North of England in response to the corrosive effects of industrialization. The expansion of the working class throughout the century led to a surge of trade union mobilization and action from the 1880s onwards. Inspired by the successes of the dockers’ strike over casual work and low pay, a new generation of trade unionists coalesced around a central slogan for an 8-hour day. This laid the basis for the formation of the Labour Party in 1906 in order to further the interests of workers in parliament. This was significant since a key outcome of the industrial revolution was the emergence of working-class identity. Out of the dehumanizing practices of factory production, there emerged a social force infused with political ideologies inspired by moral, democratic and socialist ideas seeking to reclaim the dignity of workers. Improved working conditions, a shorter working day and increased pay were core goals of workers and their representatives. The struggle for these goals would come to define the trade union movement of the next century, and the emerging field of industrial relations.

The Modern World 1918–1979 Towards the end of the nineteenth century, industrial manufacturing had spread beyond the cradle of Britain. Although, most global labour was based in agriculture, a rapidly growing working class was concentrated in industrializing areas within Europe (e.g. Berlin, Turin, St Petersburg). In the US, Frederick Taylor was developing, in the 1880s/1990s, innovations in production processes giving rise to a distinctly modern form of factory production and management techniques (Littler, 1978). These were motivated by the opinion of the waged labourer as both were unable to understand their own job and un-motived to achieve efficiency. New management techniques, based on this theory, such as Taylorism therefore motivated both a de-skilling and standardization of employment roles. Managers, meantime, were tasked with creating an efficient bureaucracy of control utilizing planning informed by scientific principles (Littler, 1978). Taylorism would be exported around the globe, shaping the experience of work in the twentieth century to this day. However, World War I had a transformative effect on the consciousness of this new generation of workers. The horror of a very modern, mechanized form of warfare propelled a wave of revolutionary uprisings, supported by a network of socialist and anarchist forces. These forces agitated for workers to find common cause around the world, united by their experience of exploitation in the capitalist labour process. The uprisings were, by and large, suppressed. However, the success of the Russian Revolution had significant reverberations on work and workers; lives beyond the soviet borders. The International Labour Organization (ILO) was set up in 1919 in response to the revolution. An outcome of the Peace


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Conference at the end of the war, the ILO incorporated workers’ rights and minimum labour standards into the post-war settlement and promoted the establishment of industrial relations institutions to negotiate workplace rights, as an ‘insurance policy’ against revolutionary upheaval (Kaufman, 2004, p. 252). In the UK, some of the demands of the trade union movement had been met in the pre-war years. In particular, trade unions were no longer liable to pay damages following strike action, which had effectively made strike action impossible. The first steps towards a welfare state were also taken, with the introduction of old-age pensions and national insurance to provide an income if workers were unable to work. For some, mainly female workers, ideas around industrial welfare were taking root and female welfare officers were introduced to oversee the welfare of workers. Similar developments were taking place in the US, with the aim of alleviating some of the most dehumanizing environmental conditions of industrial work, underpinned by ideas of ‘welfare capitalism’ (Long, 2011). However, work was still harsh and dirty for workers in many industries (e.g. mining, rail and steel production). Unemployment was also a problem in the interwar years, with some areas suffering persistently high levels in the years before the 1929 financial crash that heralded the global depression. The period was characterized by the decline of nineteenth-century industries and the expansion of new industries (e.g. motor cars and electrical goods), exposing workers in the latter industries to poverty and hardship, and undermining the gains that had been made in areas such as wages, unemployment, health and safety, and trade union rights. Unemployment was a reminder to workers of their precarious position in an economic system marked by regular cyclical fluctuations. The wave of unemployment that marked the depression years of 1930s was more keenly felt in some areas than others. In Britain, heavy industry was hit hard, leading to long-term unemployment amongst male workers in some parts of the country. In the US, much harder hit by the depression than the UK, Roosevelt responded with the New Deal, using government spending and a programme of public works to stimulate demand. One of the most radical programmes was the ‘Ohio Plan’ where ‘production-for-use’ replaced ‘production-for-profit’. Factories were reopened under government control and workers were rehired to make products which were distributed freely to other workers (Rose, 2009). The requisition of factories for the production of products for the collective good rather than profit was not new – it had occurred during World War I – however, this was a singularly political intervention that anticipated Keynesian economic policies which were favoured after World War II. In Germany, in contrast, government spending was directed to war preparations. The fascist regime extolled the virtues of work in the service of the fatherland, banned strikes and independent unions, increased maximum working hours from 60 to 72 and restricted labour mobility. Alongside this, of course, was the horror of forced labour in the concentration camps. The decades after World War II were characterized by significant material advances by workers in the West, both within and outside the workplace. The expansion of the welfare state decoupled workers’ material survival and reproduction from its dependence on wage labour (Esping-Andersen, 1990) and thus

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altered the balance of power between workers and employers. State regulation of the employment relationship provided protection against dismissal, further strengthening the hand of workers – at least for the ‘core’ male workforce. The labour force in the western heartlands was substantially increased by migration from colonies and ex-colonies. In some cases, these workers became part of the expanding public sector workforce, thereby swelling the ranks of organized labour. However, in many cases, migrant workers constituted a highly exploited workforce on the periphery of the labour market. For example, in post-war France, state-owned car manufacturing drew heavily upon Algerian workers, employed at the lowest grades and granted only temporary work and residency papers, in what was a heavily racialized division of labour (Pitti, 2006). French car manufacturers were, therefore, able to entrench harsh Taylorist practices in car manufacturing at time when UK and Swedish car firms were experimenting with theories of job enrichment promoted by industrial psychology (Bouquin, 2011). For many workers, the three decades post 1945 were a time of expanding income and consumption. The post-war ‘compromise’ between labour and capital was part of a ‘golden age’ of reconstruction and optimism around shared prosperity. New technologies, promoted by the UK Labour government in Wilson’s ‘white heat of technology’ speech appeared to some to herald a new world of work, dominated by highly skilled occupations that promised to return an element of control and enrichment to the experience of labour (Bell, 1973). Others were sceptical of the impact of technology and saw it as transferring Taylorism to the office by deskilling office workers (Braverman, 1974). There was no doubt, however, about the changing composition of the labour force as advanced economies shifted towards services. With this came the increased participation of women; by 1975, in core OECD countries over 50% of women of working age were economically active, employed in large part in service industries, teaching and health (Walsh & Wrigley, 2001).

The Rerun of History When nations industrialize, as Kuznets (1955) noted, a disproportionate amount of the benefits of growth are appropriated by elites. However, as inequality increases, those citizens who do not benefit from economic growth as states prosper organize and demand that government acts to reduce the externalities (including inequality) which arise from industrialization and corporatization. This populist response threatens the economic stability on which elites’ prosperity depends (Kuznets, 1955). Out of their own self-interest, therefore, elites are motivated to acquiesce to policies which promote redistribution (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2002); in particular, a form of democracy. The extension of the right to democratic representation in response to civic unrest is motivated by the consideration that citizens may not otherwise trust elites’ promises to redistribute the benefits of economic growth (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2000). Further, workers also are motivated to respond to the organized power of capital with the power of organized labour through unionization (MacIver, 1947, p. 334; Lippmann, 1938). Supported (rather than, as thitherto, undermined) by appropriate


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legislation, workers’ unions increasingly became part of the overall economic landscape in most western democratic nations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. With appropriate political representation, the complementary energies of capital and labour unions facilitated the distribution of the benefits of economic growth throughout western states’ populations in the mid-twentieth century (MacIver, 1947, p. 188). This brought benefits to all citizens, even those not covered by unionization (Schmitt, 2010) by increasing the market (prevailing) wage. From 1955 to 1975, the poor generally got richer, but then, so did the rich. As workers who were unionized became more affluent, their consumption spending increased and hence employment and profits were created more widely (Schmitt, 2010). However, the combination of the slowdown in growth in the 1970s and the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 indicated increasing economic activity was tending to a zero-sum game; that is, the increase in affluence of one class comes at the cost of the life prospects of another (Albertson & Stepney, 2020). In the low to zerogrowth economy which has prevailed since the 1980s (Gordon, 2016; Kallis, 2011; Kubiszewski et al., 2013), national labour markets have become rather more the scene of industrial unrest. Pitted against the interests of capital, unions, cast as the ‘enemy within’ (Thatcher, 1984), were increasingly re-regulated (even as business became less regulated) and rendered less effectual (Dean, 2008; Jacobs & Myers, 2014). This reduction in the power of organized labour in the market, was matched by a reduction in the agency of (supposed) democratic government. Recall, democracy was not offered by elites, but demanded from them by the economically disadvantaged after centuries of often bloody oppression. As Martin Luther King, Jr (1963 [1993]: 838) has noted, ‘it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily’. The same self-interest which saw elites unwilling to extend the franchise to citizens in the first place will also motivate their attempts to limit democratic accountability and transfer power back to their own class (Crouch, 2004, p. 6; Dean, 2008, p. 50) once the franchise has been extended. In the first instance, those who command market power may utilize this to influence the course of politics through lobbying, campaign contributions and the like (Mounk, 2018). Rather more subtle, however, is the argument that the complexity of the modern world is too much for ordinary citizens to understand and therefore, so it is supposed, they will respond inappropriately through the democratic process. This point of view motivates the transfer of power 1) from democratic government to unelected technocrats and 2) from direct state action to marketized structures. The global governance promoted by transnational agencies further facilitates this undermining of the scope of democratic action. Such governance effectively transfers powers away from nations and states (Bevir & Hall, 2011) and limits governments’ capacity to respond to domestic conditions. The ideological theory which supports limiting the scope of government action is summarized in the so-called Washington Consensus (Williamson, 1999),

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sometimes called neo-liberalism (Gamble, 2001). The definition of these much contested terms is continually evolving; however, in general this politicaleconomic ideology argues for a greatly circumscribed role for government other than: promoting globalized ‘free’ markets; ensuring the security of private property (as opposed to communal property); promotion and maintenance of law and order; and governance through ‘market forces’, that is, through the application of individualized incentive structures (Gore, 2000). The widespread adoption in the 1980s of globalized neo-liberalism undermines democracy by limiting the choice of policies on offer (Gill, 1998), emphasizing those of most benefit to the interests of globalized capital (Piketty, 2020). Where all mainstream parties offer essentially the same policy portfolio, the relevance and legitimacy of democracy is undermined (c.f. Crouch, 2004; Bevir, 2011). As Nietzsche (1908, p. 112) has noted, ‘Justice is … reprisal and exchange upon the basis of an approximate equality of power’. It is hardly surprising that, as governments become less willing, or able, to respond to the needs and aspirations of their citizens, and as unions become increasingly regulated, workers’ bargaining power, and hence the return to work, has relatively declined.

The Future of Work History indicates that periods of time in which there is relative peace and stability led to increasing socio-economic injustice: wealth inequality; income inequality; and social inequality. According to historian Walter Scheidel (2018), throughout recorded history, the practical events associated with reducing inequality reduced are: mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse and catastrophic plagues. To these four, we might also add (rather less disruptively) representative institutions such as democratic government and unionization. Further, it is clear, paradoxically, increasing productivity (without increasing political power) also drives inequality upwards and quality of life downwards for most people throughout most of human history. As Keynes (1930) noted, because of the increasing productivity of labour, nations face a choice either of high levels of (what he termed) technological unemployment or reducing the working week to approximately 15 hours by 2030. Before the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is evidence there were only 1.5 billion good jobs in the world and a global workforce of 3 billion – implying a global un/under-employment rate of 50% (Clifton, 2019). Rather more worryingly, only 5% of the working population had great jobs (Clifton, 2019). Productivity growth marches on apace and it is likely the demand for labour will fall yet further as a result of the new industrial (digital) revolution (WEF, 2016; Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2016). Clearly, there is not going to be any shortage of workers for the foreseeable future, rather the opposite. Simple economics suggests, in this situation, those who are employed will see their bargaining power in the market (and hence their terms and conditions of employment) decline. Post Covid-19, trends towards gig employment, precarious employment, and bad work continue. It is reasonable to forecast that as the pandemic has sped up


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trends towards digitization of the economy and online consumption (Mills, Whittle, & Brown, 2021), then substitution for machine and process over labour accelerates. Indeed, face-to-face roles are being removed in the transformation of business models in response to Covid-19 and the need for socially distant consumption (Mills et al., 2021). In the UK we are seeing examples of supermarkets redesign their physical infrastructure to remove face-to-face contact, both in the incorporation of payments technology (Brown & Whittle, 2020) and in store redesign.1 These changes have been anticipated (Brown & Whittle, 2020; Coyle et al., 2019), but significantly accelerated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. What was once a 10-year window for preparation is perhaps now under a year. Brown and Whittle (2020) note that in a longer-term horizon, with significant national investment in training to support decent work for displaced retail workers, then the future may be positive. However, they also point out that a failure to act could likely lead to a partially retrained workforce existing in the developing tech gig economy. We must query if the appropriate support to transform technologically displaced workers into meaningful decent work which was difficult in a 10 year horizon is feasible in one year and urge widespread innovative welfare solutions to protect large swathes of society. The consequences of failing to provide appropriate support could be severe, potentially leading to social unrest and numerous declining outcome measures. It seems likely that the existing social safety net will be unable to cope with a rapid long-term transformation of business models towards increasing online consumption.

Conclusions Nobel memorial prize winner Paul Krugman once speculated Productivity isn’t everything, but, in the long run, it is almost everything. A country’s ability to improve its standard of living over time depends almost entirely on its ability to raise its output per worker. (Krugman, 1994, p. 11) However, economic history indicates this is not true. It is clear general significant increases in productivity have been accompanied, not by increased standards of national living, but rather by the effective appropriation of the benefits of the productivity increase by military and political elites, resulting in the increasing disadvantage of the general population. History indicates that periods of time in which there is relative peace and stability – and even aggregate economic growth – lead to increasing socio-economic injustice: wealth inequality; incomes inequality; and social inequality. According to a study of the broad sweep of human history by historian Walter Scheidel (2018), the events associated with reducing inequality are: mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse and catastrophic plagues. To these four, we might also add (rather less disruptively) representative institutions such as democratic government and unionization.

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Further, in a world facing unprecedented ecological strain, it is not apparent that increasing economic growth is necessarily an unmitigated good (de Saille et al., 2020). If anything, we might speculate that it is a nation’s ability to raise its output per tonne of carbon emitted that is of importance. However, even this is to misread the paradox of productivity. Productivity growth on its own is not enough – it is productivity and the countervailing power of the populace to demand their share of the benefits that will lead to increasing standards of living. As we have noted, Keynes (1930) argued the working week ought to be reduced to 15 hours if we are to not to suffer destabilizing rates of unemployment. This is approximately the same as the original affluent societies were required to carry out to maintain their standard of living (Sahlins, 2017). Humanity has been waiting 10,000 years to enjoy the benefits of productivity growth. It is now time we did.

Note 1. Sainsbury’s have recently announced a removal of specialist roles in their stores including deli counters and fish mongers.

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Brynjolfsson, E., & McAfee, A. (2016). Race against the Machine: How the digital revolution is accelerating innovation, driving productivity, and irreversibly transforming employment and the economy. The MIT Centre for Digital Business. Retrieved from Against_the_Machine.pdf. Accessed on December 17, 2020. Calhoun, C. (1982). The Question of Class Struggle: Social foundations of popular radicalism during the industrial revolution. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Clifton, J. (2019). Is it Time to retire global unemployment? Gallup Blog, 10 December. Retrieved from ment.aspx. Accessed on August 4, 2020. Coyle, D., Flanders, S., Glaeser, E., Mazzucato, M., Overman, H., & Singh, D. (2019). Greater manchester independent prosperity review. Greater Manchester Combined Authority. Retrieved from economy/greater-manchester-independent-prosperity-review/. Accessed on December 17, 2020. Crouch, C. (2004). Post-democracy. Cambridge: Polity. Deakin, S. (2000). Legal Origins of Wage Labour: The evolution of the contract of employment from industrialisation to the welfare state. In L. Clarke, P. de Gijsel, & J. Janssen (Eds.), The dynamics of wage relations in the new Europe (pp. 32–44). Boston, MA: Springer. Dean, J. (2008). Enjoying neoliberalism. Cultural Politics, 4(1), 47–72. Diamond, J. (1999). The worst mistake in the history of the human race. Discover, 1 May. Retrieved from Accessed on August 3, 2020. Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press. Fussell, G. E., & Compton, M. (1939). Agricultural adjustments after the Napoleonic Wars. The Economic Journal, 49(Supplement_1), 184–204. Gamble, A. (2001). Neo-liberalism. Capital & Class, 25(3), 127–134. Gill, S. (1998). New constitutionalism, democratisation and global political economy. Pacifica Review: Peace, Security & Global Change, 10(1), 23–38. Gordon, R. J. (2016). The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The US standard of living since the civil war. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Gore, C. (2000). The rise and fall of the Washington Consensus as a paradigm for developing countries. World Development, 28(5), 789–804. Harari, Y. N. (2014). Sapiens: A brief history of humankind. London: Harvill Secker. Jacobs, D., & Myers, L. (2014). Union strength, neoliberalism and inequality: Contingent political analyses of US income differences since 1950. American Sociological Review, 79(4), 752–774. Kallis, G. (2011). In defence of degrowth. Ecological Economics, 70(5), 873–880. Kaufman, B. E. (2004). The global evolution of industrial relations: Events, ideas and the IIRA. Geneva: ILO. Keynes, J. M. (1930). Economic possibilities for our grandchildren. In Essays in persuasion (pp. 358–373). New York, NY: W. W. Norton. Retrieved from http:// Accessed on August 4, 2020. King, M. L., Jr (1963 [1993]). Letter from Birmingham jail. UC Davis Law Review, 26(4), 835–852.

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Krugman, P. (1994). The age of diminished expectations: U.S. Economic policy in the 1990s. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press. Kubiszewski, I., Costanza, R., Franco, C., Lawn, P., Talberth, J., Jackson, T., & Aylmer, C. (2013). Beyond GDP: Measuring and achieving global genuine progress. Ecological Economics, 93, 57–68. Kuznets, S. (1955). Economic growth and income inequality. The American Economic Review, 45(1), 1–28. Lippmann, W. (1938). The good society (3rd ed.). Guildford, Esher; Great Britain: Billing and Sons, Ltd. Littler, C. R. (1978). Understanding Taylorism. British Journal of Sociology, 29(2), 185–202. Long, V. (2011). Industrial Homes, Domestic Factories: The convergence of public and private space in interwar Britain. Journal of British Studies, 50(2), 434–464. MacIver, R. M. (1947). The web of government. New York, NY: Macmillan. Manning, R. (2004). Against the Grain: How agriculture has hijacked civilization. New York, NY: North Point Press. Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1848). The communist manifesto. London: Penguin. Mason, P. (2007). Live working, die fighting: How the working class went global. London: Harvill Secker. Mills, S., Whittle, R., & Brown, G. (2021). The implications of a crisis-driven societal shift to online consumption. In P. McCann & T. Vorley (Eds.), Productivity and the pandemic: Challenges and insights from covid-19 (pp. 88–103). Edward Elgar. Mounk, Y. (2018). The undemocratic dilemma. Journal of Democracy, 29(2), 98–112. Nietzsche, F. W. (1908). Human, all too human: A book for free spirits. Chicago, IL: Charles H. Kerr & Company. Retrieved from 38145/38145-h/38145-h.htm. Accessed on June 5, 2019. Piketty, T. (2020). Capital and ideology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Pitti, L. (2006). La main-d’œuvre alg´erienne dans l’industrie automobile (1945–1962) ou les oubli´es de l’histoire. Hommes et Migrations, 1263, 47–57. Rose, N. E. (2009). Lessons from the new deal public employment programs. Monthly Review, 61(5), 21–32. Rousseau, J.-J. (1762 [1920]). The social contract & discourses. Trans. (1782) Cole, G. D. H. New York, NY: J. M. Dent & Sons. Sahlins, M. (2017). Stone age economics. London: Routledge. de Saille, S., Medvecky, F., van Oudheusden, M., Albertson, K., Amanatidou, E., Birabi, T., & Pansera, M. (2020). Responsibility beyond growth: A case for responsible stagnation. Bristol: Bristol University Press. Scheidel, W. (2018). The Great Leveler: Violence and the history of inequality from the stone age to the twenty-first century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Schmitt, J. (2010). The unions of the states. Center for Economic and Policy Research. Retrieved from Accessed on June 6, 2019. Scott, J. C. (2017). Against the grain: A deep history of the earliest states. New Haven: Yale University Press. Thatcher, M. H. (1984). Speech to 1922 committee (“the enemy within”). Retrieved from Accessed on December 31, 2018.


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Chapter 4

The Development of the Decent Work Scale as a Cross-cultural Measure of Decent Work Vanessa Dodd and Ciaran Burke

Abstract This chapter explores the development of an individual-level measure of decent work. It draws on a recent article written by the authors, which was part of a larger international project to validate a cross-cultural self-report measure of decent work within the context of the Psychology of Working Theory (Dodd et al., 2019). It discusses the importance of a psychological perspective on decent work to better understand working lives; summarizes the findings from the validation studies Decent Work Scale (DWS) in eight countries; outlines potential uses of the DWS; and considers the limitations of the DWS as well as challenges to conceptualizing decent work more generally. Keywords: ILO; Psychology of working framework; decent work scale; work volition; career adaptability; construct

Introduction Macro-level measures of decent work monitor how well a country is meeting certain standards of waged labour. The four pillars of the decent work agenda developed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) set the measurement scope to include: (1) employment creation; (2) social protection; (3) rights at work and (4) social dialogue (ILO, 2014). From these pillars, 10 elements of decent work were adopted: (1) employment opportunities; (2) adequate earnings and productive work; (3) decent working time; (4) combining work, family and personal life; (5) work that should be abolished (e.g. child labour); (6) stability and security of work; (7) equal opportunity and treatment in employment; (8) safe work environment; (9) social security and (10) social dialogue, employers’ and Decent Work, 41–50 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211004


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workers’ representation. A further 18 main statistical indicators for decent work and 21 legal framework indicators exist to support country-level monitoring (ILO, 2013). The development of these indicators supported the Monitoring and Assessing Progress on Decent Work pilot in an effort to improve capacity in developing and transition countries to design, collect and analyze these indicators in order to position decent work as a strategic imperative for government policy (ILO, 2012). Decent work and economic growth are monitored as a sustainable development goal by the United Nations (UN). Such country-level monitoring can identify systemic issues in the provision of decent work (Corkery & Khalil, 2018). These indicators sound the alarm when economic growth slows, sectors shrink, youth unemployment balloons and in-work poverty persists. However, they tell us little about how individuals understand and experience decent work within their working lives. The Psychology of Working Framework (PWF) and later refined by Duffy, Blustein, Diemer, and Autin (2016) in the Psychology of Working Theory (PWT) attempt to provide a bridge between the micro-level experiences and macro-level trends of decent work (Blustein, Olle, Connors-Kellgren, & Diamonti, 2016). The Decent Work Scale (DWS) was developed to capture the psychological perspective of decent work as part of the career development process (Duffy et al., 2017). This chapter discusses the importance of a psychological approach to decent work, the insights of working to validate the DWS in the UK as part of a crosscultural effort to understand ‘how people experience and construct decent work in different cultural, economic, and social contexts’ (Duffy et al., 2020, p. 1), as well as potential uses and limitations of the DWS.

A Psychological Perspective on Decent Work The PWT places decent work as a central component of a theoretical model of working (Duffy et al., 2017). The PWT theorizes that, when decent work is secured, individuals experience greater well-being and increased life satisfaction. Unlike macro-level indicators, this theory takes into account how social, cultural and economic dimensions may affect an individual’s ability to access decent work. The PWT acknowledges the relational nature of work and its importance to fulfilling our basic needs for survival, connection and self-determination (Duffy et al., 2017). Securing decent work allows us to find meaning in our life. However, access to decent work can vary across socio-economic status, demographics and cultural contexts. The PWT suggests that social and economic factors influence levels of decent work through the following mechanisms:

• •

work volition: An individual’s ability to make decisions about their career regardless of barriers and career adaptability: ‘a psychological construct that denotes an individual’s readiness and resources for coping with current and anticipated tasks of vocational development’ (Savickas, 2002, p. 156; Duffy et al., 2017).

The Development of the Decent Work Scale as a Cross-cultural Measure


Good levels of work volition and career adaptability are key to securing decent work. Socio-economic status and marginalization may reduce an individual’s capacity for appropriate levels of work volition, career adaptability which compromises access to decent work.

The Decent Work Scale How do we measure an individual’s lived experience of decent work? Scales and psychometrics are important tools to monitor, measure and assess typically unobservable phenomenon (Tay & Jebb, 2017). There have been several attempts to define and measure decent work at the individual level. Good work, job quality and decent work have been used interchangeably and have been operationalized in a variety of ways. In the US, nationally representative surveys of perceived job quality have been deployed since 1977 and integrated into the General Social Survey (GSS) in 2002 (NORC, 2016). In the UK there has been increased policy focus on access to decent work. The Taylor Review (2017) set out several policy areas where focus could support better working lives. The CIPD, the UK professional body for people development, have deployed the Working Lives Survey since 2018 (CIPD, 2019). Their ‘good work index’ measures seven dimensions of good work: (1) pay and benefits; (2) employment contract types; (3) work–life balance; (4) job design; (5) work relationships; (6) employee voice and (7) health and well-being. This index has been backed by the Carnegie Institute’s ‘Measuring Job Quality Working Group’ (Irvine, Douglas, & Diffley, 2018). There are challenges to using indicators and measurements like these to better understand decent work particularly as they are embedded in specific cultural and policy contexts. Proxy indicators such as job satisfaction and salary act as poor substitutes to direct measures of decent work (Duffy et al., 2016). For example, while salary may be one aspect of decent work, higher salaries do not necessarily confer higher levels of decent work particularly when workload pressure increases. The PWT, first articulated in the US, theorizes that decent work is secured when an individual’s work contains: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Physically and interpersonally safe working conditions; Working hours that allow for free time and rest; Organizational values aligned with family and social values; Adequate compensation and Access to adequate health care.

Duffy et al. (2017) generated survey items for each of the five aforementioned dimensions of decent work. The scale was initially validated over the course of two studies which used good practice methods for establishing validity including


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expert review, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). They found that DWS was valid across race, gender, income and subjective social status. The results of the testing found evidence of construct, convergent and predictive validity. The full 15-item scale can be found in Duffy et al. (2017) published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology. The initial validation study was limited to American workers and workers experience working life within the context of the state and its subsequent labour market economy. A special issue in the Journal of Vocational Behavior published a cross-cultural exploration of the DWS in eight country contexts (Duffy et al., 2020). These countries were: (1) the UK; (2) Switzerland; (3) France; (4) South Korea; (5) Italy; (6) Portugal; (7) Turkey and (8) Brazil. As part of this process DWS was translated into seven languages. Each of these studies found evidence that the DWS was a valid instrument to measure decent work in their cultural context. However limitations of the scale emerged and will be discussed further in the next section. The DWS was developed to be a cross-cultural measure of decent work. It is embedded in theory and was conceptualized using the ILO's decent work inter- national policy agenda. In addition, the DWS was developed with career practitioners in mind. The DWS can be used in career conversations or other work-based interventions (Duffy et al., 2017). Career practitioners with a political or social justice approach to career guidance may use the DWS to facilitate in reflexive delib- eration with clients (Hodkinson & Sparkes, 1997; Hooley, 2015). The DWS is a tool and starting point to critique what decent work means for individuals. It can then be used to support clients to improve their working life (Duffy et al., 2017). DWS has important uses for both researchers and career practitioners. The DWS can be used to further explore our working lives and links to well-being and fulfillment (Allan, Autin, Duffy, & Sterling, 2020). As evidence grows policy makers may be interested in how the advancement of decent work has public health as well as productivity implications.

Challenges of the Decent Work Scale Access to Healthcare Subscale The cross-cultural studies of the DWS highlighted several limitations of the scale. One main challenge was the adaptation of the Access to Healthcare subscale. This subscale was problematic for several countries. There was no right answer for adapting the access to healthcare subscale across cultures. The diversity of healthcare systems and its relationship to experiences of work across cultural contexts is a key limitation of the scale. The DWS was initially developed in the US with employer insurance-based healthcare systems. Research teams in countries with a universal healthcare offer took a variety of approaches to adapting the access to healthcare factor. In the UK we adapted the following items for the access to healthcare construct:

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(1) I get better healthcare benefits from my job than what is provided by universal healthcare. (2) I have a better healthcare plan at work than what is provided by universal healthcare. (3) My employer provides more acceptable options for healthcare than what is available with universal healthcare (Dodd et al., 2019). This revision allowed UK respondents to consider the types of healthcare benefits they receive from their employer in addition to the national healthcare entitlement. For us, it was important to adapt the subscale within the context of work because that was the intention of the scale. However, only 11% percent of the UK population purchase additional healthcare either through their employer or directly with an insurer (The King’s Fund, 2014). Other countries with Universal healthcare adapted the factor in other ways. Masdonti, Schreiber, Marcionetti, & Rossier (2019) adapted the Swiss instrument to state: (1) I get good healthcare benefits from my country/government. (2) I have a good healthcare plan provided by my country/government. (3) My country/government provides acceptable options for healthcare. Similarly, in an Australian study of the DWS, researchers adapted the first two questions in the same manner as the Swiss study but adapted the third question to read: (1) My job allows me to have a good healthcare plan (McIlveen et al., 2020). Researchers from South Korea chose to delete references to an employer or work from the access to healthcare factor (e.g. I get good healthcare benefits) (Nam & Kim, 2019). The Access to Healthcare subscale was the least frequent coded response from a qualitative question (discussed further below). This is due in part to the proportion of countries with universal or single payer healthcare systems. In the UK, health care was only referenced in terms of access to sick pay, which can be enhanced by an employer on top of the government statutory sick pay entitlement (Dodd et al., 2019).

Cross-cultural Articulations of Decent Work In addition, qualitative responses showed divergences in respect to what decent work means across cultures. Researchers and practitioners should critically consider what the DWS is not measuring when used outside the context in which it was originally developed. This will better enable the DWS to work as part of an overall career conversation across cultural contexts.


Vanessa Dodd and Ciaran Burke A semi-structured qualitative item formed part of each country’s study, Decent work is employment that meets the minimum acceptable standards for a ‘good life’. What components do you feel a job needs to have to be considered ‘decent’ or ‘acceptable’?

The analyses of responses within countries found significant convergence as well as divergences from the conceptual underpinning of the DWS. Adequate compensation, as related to the DWS, was the predominant theme in the qualitative data across all eight participating country teams. Di Fabio & Kenny (2019) suggested that the prevalence of compensation as a theme of decent work may be due in part to ongoing economic crises and rising inequality in Europe generally and Italy specifically. In some countries, the articulation of adequate compensation was more nuanced. Vignoli et al. (2019) suggested ‘sufficient compensation’ described by the French sample as sufficient compensation for daily life was a better representation of their sample’s qualitative responses than adequate compensation. The sample from Brazil also reflected that decent work, ‘in some way helps to improve the conditions of life of the whole society or, at least, contributes to the well-being of others’ (Ribeiro, Teixeira, & Ambiel, 2019, p. 238). While the overall PWT considers structural dimensions of society such as the economy, the French and Brazilian samples pose an interesting question regarding compensation as a subfactor of decent work. A possible drawback of the DWS is how adequate compensation is measured only within the context of an individual’s salary in reference to their qualifications. It does not measure compensation with reference to an individual’s daily needs or the needs of others within their society. Qualitative responses from the data provide evidence to reflect on what else ought to form part of an overall understanding of decent work. Career progression and collective bargaining were two of several concepts mentioned that a job needs to provide to be decent. Qualitative data across six countries reported that career progression and professional development were important aspects of decent work (Dodd et al., 2019; SK; Brazil; France; Italy; Switzerland). Currently, career progression and professional development does not feature as a predictor, dimension or outcome of decent work in the PWT. It is perhaps necessary for PWT theorists to consider where ‘opportunities for career progression’ fits into the overall model and how it relates to decent work more specifically. The CIPD, for example, suggest that ‘good work,’ gives opportunities to develop skills and a career (CIPD, 2020, p. 3). Ribeiro et al. (2019) reflected on the lack of inclusion of collective bargaining both in the DWS itself and in the Brazilian sample despite its acknowledgement by the ILO as a pillar of decent work. However, the UK sample featured definitions of decent work in which union representation formed part (Dodd et al., 2019). In the introduction to the special issue, Duffy et al. (2020) suggested that some qualitative responses of decent work were actually theorized as outcomes of securing decent work. This brings up interesting questions regarding the

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boundaries of what decent work is and what securing decent work provides us with both theoretically and methodologically.

Further Developments of the Decent Work Scale Many studies have used the DWS by creating a summative composite scale of the 15-item general factor ‘decent work’; however, there is competing evidence for this. Kim, Duffy, and Allan (2020) have put forward a new methodological approach to scoring the DWS. They suggest that using a composite score where high scores mean decent work and low scores mean no or low levels of decent work can obscure significant variation in and experience of working lives. They decided to use a person-centred rather than variable-centred approach to better understand the possibility that profiles exist beyond having or not having decent work (p.3). They challenge the original notion that decent work is secured only if an individual had high scores on all five components originally put forward (Duffy et al., 2016). Kim et al. (2020) acknowledge that many people are actually ‘in the middle’ in terms of securing decent work and that many may only experience some aspects of decent work as defined by the DWS in their working lives. Their research used latent profile analysis (LPA) on a US sample and found five ‘profiles’ of decent work that an individual may have:

• • • • •

Average access the decent work, where all subfactor scores were within one standard deviation from the average of all participants in the study. Low health care, where the access to healthcare score was below average but all other factors were above average. Indecent work, where all subscale scores were below the average. Only health care, where the access to health care was above average with other subscales below the average. Decent work, where all five subscale scores were higher than average.

These profiles may not be reproducible across countries, due in part to the development of two profiles centred around access to health care. However, developing profiles of decent work based on the survey results may facilitate improved support from career development practitioners (Kim et al., 2020). In addition, LPA may be a useful methodological approach for countries wishing to continue to work with the DWS for research and practice.

Limitations and Conclusions The DWS is a valid scale for measuring self-reported decent work. Research across all countries demonstrate the scale has construct, convergent and predictive validity. The DWS is valid across key demographics including gender, race and income. Further research has been undertaken to validate the DWS and test the theoretical framework of the PWT in China, Togo and Australia among others (Atitsogbe, Kossi, Pari, & Rossier, 2020; Ma, You, & Tang, 2019; McIlveen et al., 2020).


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Our understanding decent work requires continuous refinement and re-evaluation. Qualitative answers from the cross-cultural studies show there is some variation in understanding decent work; however, most core factors remain relevant with some exception in the access to healthcare subscale. Economic shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, may change how we should measure decent work. In a pandemic environment, physically and interpersonally safe working conditions has become the central issue at work, as workspaces are now supposed to be ‘COVID secure.’ In addition, the increase in remote working and greater responsibility for employee safety requires significant change for both employees and employers. This may include an employee’s ability to access flexible and family friendly models of working. The potential reexamining of fit between employer and employee and the demands that employers will have in the post-2020 economy may mean that collective action and collective protection through unions may become more central to the concept of decent work. The relationship between national policy, labour market regulation and decent work create some defined differences between countries. However, the consequence of neo-liberalism remains salient in terms of our understanding of decent work. At an individual level, Bourdieu (1998) argues that, employees experienced reduced agency as neo-liberalism develops and matures into effectively the only model entire generations of workers have known. As a result of neo-liberalism, the ‘reserve army of labour’ poses threats to individuals’ jobs if they fail to meet productivity levels or resist the demands of the structure (economy, employer, etc.) Within this system individuals may not recognize that their dignity or wellbeing is being questioned or impinged because we must accept these conditions. This is a real challenge of examining micro-processes of decent work and one where career guidance for social justice can engage in practice.

References Allan, B., Autin, K., Duffy, R., & Sterling, H. (2020). Decent and meaningful work: A longitudinal study. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 67(6), 669–679. doi:10.1037/ cou0000432 Atitsogbe, K., Kossi, E., Pari, P., & Rossier, J. (2020). Decent work in Sub-Saharan Africa: An application of psychology of working theory in a sample of Togolese primary school teachers. Journal of Career Assessment, 29(1), 1–19. doi:10.1177/ 1069072720928255 Blustein, D. L., Olle, C., Connors-Kellgren, A., & Diamonti, A. J. (2016). Decent work: A psychological perspective. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1–10 doi:10.3389/ fpsyg.2016.00407 Bourdieu, P. (1998). Acts of resistance. Cambridge: Polity Press. Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD). (2020). Good Work index summary report 2020. CIPD, London. Retrieved from Images/good-work-index-summary-report-2020-1_tcm18-79211.pdf Corkery, A., & Khalil, H. (2018). Do metrics matter? Accountability for economic and social rights in post-revolution Egypt. In G. MacNaughton & D. Frey (Eds.),

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Economic and social rights in a neoliberal world (pp. 150–172). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108284691.008 Di Fabio, A., & Kenny, M. (2018). Decent work in Italy: Context, conceptualization, and assessment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 110, 131–143. doi: 10.1016/ j.jvb.2018.10.014 Dodd, V., Hooley, T., & Burke, C. (2019). Decent work in the UK: Contex, conceptualization, and assessment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 112, 270–281. Duffy, R., Allan, B., England, J., Blustein, D., Autin, K., Douglass, R., & Santos, E. (2017). The development and initial validation of the decent work scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64, 206–221. doi:10.1037/cou0000191 Duffy, R., Blustein, D., Allan, B., Diemer, M., & Cinamon, R. (2020). Introduction to the special issue: A cross-cultural exploration of decent work. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 116a, 42. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2019.103351 Duffy, R., Blustein, D., Diemer, M., & Autin, K. (2016). The psychology of working theory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63, 127–148. doi:10.1037/cou0000140 Hodkinson, P., & Sparkes, A. (1997). Careership: A sociological theory of career decision making. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 18(1), 29–44. doi: 10.1080/0142569970180102 Hooley, T. (2015). Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery: Self-actualisation, social justice and the politics of career guidance. Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby. International Labour Organisation. (2012). Monitoring and assessing progress on decent work (MAP) – Project brief. Geneva: International Labour Office. International Labour Organization. (2013). Decent work indicators: Guidelines for producers and users of statistical and legal framework indicators. Geneva: ILO. International Labour Organisation. (2014). Stock-taking of the ilo’s programme on measuring decent work decent work indicators and decent work country profiles. Geneva: International Labour Office. Irvine, G., White, D., & Diffley, M. (2018). Measuring good work: The final report of the measuring job quality working group. Fife: Carnegie UK Trust. Kim, H. J., Duffy, R. D., & Allan, B. A. (2020). Profiles of decent work: General trends and Group differences. Journal of Counseling Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/cou0000434 Masdonati, J., Schreiber, M., Marcionetti, J., & Rossier, J. (2019). Decent work in Switzerland: Context, conceptualization, and assessment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 110a, 12–27. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2018.11.004 Ma, Y., You, J., & Tang, Y. (2019). Examining predictors and outcomes of decent work perception with Chinese nursing college students. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17, 254. doi:10.3390/ijerph17010254 McIlveen, P., Hoare, P. N., Perera, H. N., Kossen, C., Mason, L., Munday, S., … McDonald, N. (2020). Decent work’s association with job satisfaction, work engagement, and withdrawal intentions in Australian working adults. Journal of Career Assessment, 29(1), 18–35 doi:10.1177/1069072720922959 Nam, J. S., & Kim, S. Y. (2019). Decent work in South Korea: Context, conceptualization, and assessment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 115, 43. doi:10.1016/ j.jvb.2019.05.006 National Opinion Research Center (NORC). (2016). Quality of worklife. Retrieved from Accessed on June 20, 2020.


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Ribeiro, M. A., Teixeira, M. A. P., & Ambiel, R. A. M. (2019). Decent work in Brazil: Context, conceptualization, and assessment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 112, 229–240. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2019.03.006 Savickas, M. L. (2002). Career construction: A developmental theory of vocational behavior. In D. Brown & Associates (Eds.), Career choice and development (4th ed., pp. 149–205). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Tay, L., & Jebb, A. (2017). Scale development. In S. Rogelberg (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of industrial and organizational Psychology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Taylor, M. (2017). Good work: The Taylor review of modern working practices. London: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Retrieved from The Kings Fund. (2014). The UK private health market. The King’s Fund. Vignoli, E., Prudhomme, N., Terriot, K., Cohen-Scali, V., Arnoux-Nicolas, C., Bernaud, J. L., & Lallemand, N. (2019). Decent work in France: Context, conceptualization, and assessment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 116, 103345. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2019.103345

Part 2 Organizational and Policy Drivers: Opportunities for Decent Work

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Chapter 5

Decent Work: Gender and Equal Opportunity Policies and Outcomes Maria Allen

Abstract This chapter reviews work that examines the potential causes of inequality for women in employment in the UK. Amongst developed economies and based on mean hourly earnings, the UK has one of the highest gender pay gaps (ILO, 2018). The UK, therefore, illustrates some of the key theoretical and practical issues associated with greater gender equality that affect other countries to varying degrees. This chapter sets out key theoretical perspectives on gender inequality, summarizes important research, identifies research gaps and provides an agenda for future research. It highlights how there is no simple explanation for the disparities in pay between men and women; these disparities persist in the UK and elsewhere. Theories and empirical analyses, therefore, need to expand to identify other potential causes of gender inequality, extending ‘upwards’ to examine how the nature of firms varies across countries and ‘downwards’ to assess how union representatives influence equal opportunity policies in organizations. Keywords: Gender; inequality; pay gaps; equal opportunity policies; sexual divisions; diversity

Introduction Equal opportunities for, and the equal treatment of, female workers are one of the key indicators of ‘decent work’ (ILO, 2013). Awareness of gender equality has never been so prominent in international and national debates. For instance, in the UK, the Equal Pay Act 1970 established the right to equal pay for equal work, and was incorporated into The Equality Act 2010. However, women are still fighting to make equal pay a reality (Fawcett Society, 2019). Indeed, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have set a target of achieving full and productive employment and decent work for men, women, young people and people with Decent Work, 53–67 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211005


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disabilities, together with equal pay for work of equal value by 2030. Given the complexity of gender pay disparities and the reasons for them, countries will probably not achieve this goal. The rate at which the gender pay gap is narrowing in most regions means that it is likely to close in around 50 years’ time in Western Europe (World Economic Forum, 2019). This chapter focuses on equal opportunity policies and outcomes as they relate to women in the UK. Equal opportunities for other groups, such as older employees, workers from minority ethnic groups or who have a disability as well as workers who belong to two or more such groups, are no less important (Rafferty, 2020; Rodriguez & Rubery, 2020; Woodhams, Lupton, & Cowling, 2015a, 2015b). Other contributions to this volume focus on these and other groups, highlighting the particular challenges and contexts for them and the amount of progress made towards greater equality. The UK is, of course, not the only country to seek to achieve equal opportunities for men and women. By focusing on the UK, this chapter is able to illustrate some of the key theoretical and practical issues associated with greater gender equality that affect other countries to varying degrees (Howcroft & Rubery, 2019). Amongst developed economies and based on mean hourly earnings, the UK has one of the highest gender pay gaps (ILO, 2018). Although the gender pay gap has narrowed in the UK (Lindley, 2016; Offfice for National Statistics, 2019), closing it has become a key concern for the government. In 2017, legislation made it compulsory for any organization with 250 or more employees to publish and report specific figures about their gender pay gap (Gov.UK, 2020). The gender pay gap in the UK for all employees (fulltime and part-time workers, etc.) currently stands at 17.3 per cent (ONS, 2019). Some have called for 1) smaller employers to report their gender pay gaps too by lowering the threshold to 100 employees and 2) employers to develop action plans to outline what they are doing to close the gender pay gap (Fawcett Society, 2019). The Equality and Human Rights Commission (2018) acknowledges that the figures employers publish clearly show the size of the gender pay gap and that the publication of these figures is an important step to transparency. However, they would also like to see the publication of an accompanying narrative report and action plan to allow employers to publicly provide the reasons for any gaps that exist and to explain what they intend to do to address these gaps. The gender pay gap and inequality in general have implications not only for the individuals involved but also for businesses and the wider economy and society (Forth & Rincon-Aznar, 2008; Noon & Hoque, 2001; Platt, 2011). The Equality and Human Rights Commission (2018) contend that by publishing reports, an accompanying company narrative and action plans on gender pay gaps can help employers to attract and retain employees by showing a commitment to addressing the problem and showing that the organization is fair and progressive. The EHRC (2018) argues that communicating this positive statement of intent to stakeholders will enhance the organization’s reputation and brand; it will also provide a basis for employee engagement on the gender pay gap to build trust and acceptance for proposed solutions. Research shows

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that publishing information on the gender pay gap is important to attract and retain talented employees: over 60 per cent of women would be more likely to apply for a job with an employer with a lower pay gap and 56 per cent said that working for an organization with a pay gap would reduce their motivation they have in their roles. However, at present only 48 per cent of employers communicate narrative reports to employees and have action plans to reduce their gender pay gaps (EHRC, 2018). The EHRC (2018) argue, therefore, that publishing these reports should become mandatory and that employers should publish guidance to ensure that actions plans are effective and useful for both employees and employers. Despite legislation making equal pay for equal work a legal right, pay discrimination based on sex continues. Although pay discrimination and the gender pay gap are not the same, they are linked. Unless a woman knows what her male colleagues are paid, she cannot know whether her pay is equal and fair, which can contribute to the gender pay gap. The Fawcett Society (2019) has called for this lack of pay transparency within workplaces to end so that women can know what their colleagues earn and be able to ascertain whether they are being paid equally and fairly. This information can help to pursue breaches in the right to equal pay and help to close the gender pay gap. This illustrates the point that much remains to be done to achieve the objectives of the 1970 Equal Pay Act.

Purpose, Aims and Intention of the Chapter This chapter reviews work that examines the potential causes of inequality for women in employment in the UK. It sets out the key theoretical perspectives that underpin this work, summarizes key findings, identifies research gaps and provides an agenda for future research. It highlights how the persistence of the gender pay gap in the UK – and other countries too – suggests that there is no simple explanation for the disparities in pay between men and women. Theories and empirical analyses, therefore, need to be extended to identify other potential causes of pay discrimination.

Review of Theories Several theories exist that seek to explain why the gender pay gap and how effective equal opportunity policies are likely to be in reducing and, potentially, eliminating the gender pay gap.

Why Gender Inequality Exists Human Capital Theory Explanations for inequality in the labour market in the UK and elsewhere come from many different disciplines (Grimshaw & Rubery, 2015; ILO, 2018; Ochsenfeld, 2014). Within the economic paradigm, the neo-classical human capital theory contends that individuals make rational choices. Individuals and groups of


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individuals acquire human capital, within the labour market, in the form of skills, work experience, qualifications and training. Therefore, the sector or industry that a person chooses is dependent upon the human capital that they possess. The theory seeks to explain the gender pay gap, in part, by arguing that girls and women tend to choose subjects at school and university that lead them to career paths that shape the opportunities available to them and enable them to carry out family and care commitments (Becker, 1985; Machin & Puhani, 2003; Ochsenfeld, 2014; Polachek, 1976). On this basis, the theory indicates that the subjects that women choose whilst in education lead them into lower paid jobs in a process of horizontal labour-market segregation, as many women work in childcare, which is typically lower paid, than, say, construction, which mainly employs men. The differences in pay between men and women that result from their education choice are then exacerbated by women often taking time out of employment to look after children or elderly relatives (Grimshaw & Rubery, 2015; Lindley, 2016). This latter process can lead to vertical segregation in the labour market with men more likely to be in senior positions and women in lower ones. This results in a gender pay gap due to differences in choice of job and behaviour, which in turn leads to lower investment in human capital from less investment in training and lower participation in the labour market (Becker, 1985; Ochsenfeld, 2014; Polachek, 1976). However, England (1982) assessed Polachek’s theory, finding that women who enter female-dominated occupations are not penalized less in terms of their wages when they took time out of employment than those women who entered male-dominated occupations; indeed, where more investments in training were possible, high initial wage penalties were not observed. Oaxaca (1973) found a substantial proportion of the male–female wage differential result from discrimination. Indeed, since the initial formulation of the human capital theory, differences between men and women in terms of their subject choices has narrowed, in the UK more women attend university than men (Britton, Shephard, & Vignoles, 2019), and women typically achieve higher degree classifications than men. Moreover, women are taking shorter breaks from employment, reducing the experience gap and thus protecting their human capital (Grimshaw & Rubery, 2015). Examining the role of qualifications and labour-market experience in determining pay inequality, Joshi, Makepeace, and Dolton (2007) found that gender pay differences were not only a problem for women returning to work and part-time employees, but also a problem for those with full-time continuous careers, providing evidence against neo-classical explanations of the gender pay gap. Joshi et al. (2007)’s research indicated that thirty-year-old women should have been paid more on average than the cohort of thirty-year-old men if they had received the same reward as men based on qualifications and experience. Their evidence supports Myck and Paull’s (2004) findings that as women’s experience increases, the return on that experience decreases. Joshi et al. (2007) also found that for those moving into their 40s unequal treatment was increasing. Other research suggests these differences may have reduced, but differences between male and female graduates and non-graduates in the UK remain (Britton et al., 2019; Lindley, 2016; Machin & Puhani, 2003).

Decent Work: Gender and Equal Opportunity Policies and Outcomes


Differences in Education Choices A sizeable proportion of the gender pay gap can be accounted for by the subjects studied by women (Brown & Corcoran, 1997); however, the subjects women study have changed over time with more women in the UK studying sciencerelated subjects (Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2020). Elias and Purcell (2009) contend that growth in employment generally in the UK has gone hand in hand with greater participation in higher education for young people through the early 1990s. The expansion of the higher education system has resulted in more women going to university (Lindley & Machin, 2012), enabling them to compete for knowledge economy jobs that they would not have competed for in the past resulting in growth of female employment in these areas exceeding that of males. The gender pay gap can arise if women tend to choose jobs that pay less than the jobs men typically choose. Clarke (1997) found evidence that women’s jobs are worse than men’s in terms of hiring and firing, job content, promotional opportunities; however, despite this Clark (1997) found that women consistently report higher job satisfaction than men. Clark (1997) finds that this gender job differential is not due to women’s jobs being more attractive, but it is more likely due to the fact that women’s job expectations are lower than men’s. Some argue that women may not be as committed to paid employment as men due to caring and domestic responsibilities and are less influenced by pay levels, contributing to the gender pay gap. Clark (1997) found that men place more value on extrinsic aspects of work, such as pay and promotions and job security; however, women place more emphasis and value on intrinsic aspects such as good relations with their manager, the actual work itself and the hours that they work. Fortin (2008) also found that the priority of young women was not as strong as men’s with regard to work and money, helping to explain some of the gender pay differentials. However, Manning and Swaffield (2008) find that in the UK the gender pay gap on entry to the labour market is approximately zero; however, 10 years later, there is a substantial pay gap; they contend that psychological factors can explain some of these different effects on men’s and women’s pay. This could also be due to women making trade-offs, once they have young children; they may sacrifice higher wage levels in favour of flexible hours or the ability to work at home (Grimshaw & Rubery, 2015; Myck & Paull, 2001; Ochsenfeld, 2014). Monopsony Demand side factors can also contribute to the gender pay gap; most employers have some degree of monopsony power over workers, especially over women due to women being less willing or able to leave a job due to caring responsibilities. It may be more difficult for them to find a job that meets their requirements in terms of, for example, flexible hours or geographical location (Allen, 2014; Roseman, Barber, & Neis, 2015). A very good example of an employer that fits into this category is universities. It is very difficult for women to move from one university to another due to domestic responsibilities. Women


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then have to tolerate fewer promotional possibilities and less pay than men, as it is more difficult for them to move from one location to another; in other words, women’s spatial mobility is typically less than men’s (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2009; Hanson, 2010; Hanson & Pratt, 1995; Manning, 1996; (Winders & Smith, 2019). The Social Value of Roles Segregation in the workplace can take many forms: occupational sex segregation, sex segregation across firms and job segregation within firms; all reduce women’s earnings relative to men’s (Grimshaw & Rubery, 2015; Howcroft & Rubery, 2019; Ochsenfeld, 2014; Reskin & Hartmann, 1986). As well as impacting earnings, segregation can contribute in other negative ways; for example, sex difference in retirement income, susceptibility to unemployment, prestige and stress (Lindley, 2016; Lindley & Machin, 2012). Early discussions of the gender and segregation of women in the labour market to particular segments suggest that women as a whole were a ‘secondary’ labour force (Barron & Norris, 1976; Crompton, Hantrais, & Walters, 1990). Indeed, the esteem and value associated with some occupations has declined when women have become increasingly represented in them (Begeny, Ryan, Moss-Racusin, & Ravetz, 2020; Gilbert, Warhurst, Nickson, Hurrell, & Commander, 2012; Kessler-Harris, 1990). As long as women are disproportionately represented among occupations requiring undervalued skills, this will cause a gender differential (Anderson, Forth, Metcalf, & Kirby, 2001), in a process of horizontal labour market segregation (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2009).

Equal Opportunity Policies A definition of Equal Opportunities policy is: …a commitment to engage in employment practices and procedures which do not discriminate, and which provide equality between individuals of different groups or sex to achieve full, productive and freely chosen employment. (Lean Lim, 1996, p. 34) The gender pay gap exists despite the UK’s Equality Act 2010 (EqA), which came into force on 1 October 2010 and provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2016). The EqA covers everyone in Britain and seeks to protect them from discrimination, harassment and/or victimization. The EqA prohibits unfair treatment in a number of settings including the workplace. As sex is one of the protected characteristics under the EqA the gender pay gap should not exist if the EqA worked as it should do; as we have seen, however, the issue is very complex (Grimshaw & Rubery, 2015; Howcroft & Rubery, 2019; Lindley, 2016; Lindley & Machin, 2012). Equality law in the UK states that

Decent Work: Gender and Equal Opportunity Policies and Outcomes


people should not be treated differently in the UK workplace and in wider society because of their characteristics. Put simply, an individual should be treated the same way as another individual; therefore men and women should be treated the same when it comes to recruitment and selection and promotion within organizations. Therefore, individuals should be judged independently; their gender should not be the focus, instead job-related characteristics should be the focus (Liff & Wajcman, 1996). Sameness and Difference Jewson and Mason (1986) put forward two approaches to equality policy: the liberal and radical approach. These two approaches have become influential in analyzing and evaluating equality strategies in organizations (Greene & Kirton, 2006).The liberal approach builds on a philosophy of ‘sameness’, focusing on the individual rather than on groups and in practice it means that individuals within an organization should be treated and assessed in exactly the same way and not treated favourably or unfavourably, regardless of their gender. The rationale behind this approach is that if individuals are treated the same, then there is no need to alter policies and practices for any reason as everyone is treated and assessed in the same way in order to comply with the policies and practices. This approach has its critics. As we have already seen, the gender pay gap is far from simple, and inequalities arise between men and women, resulting in the gender pay gap. Some argue that formulating policies that treat each individual exactly the same, whether they are a man or a women, conceals and even institutionalizes inequalities (Acker, 1990; Ferguson, 1984; Howcroft & Rubery, 2019; Witz & Savage, 1992). Theories about inequality in the labour market, already discussed, such as Human Capital Theory contend that women often choose careers that allow them to continue to carry out caring and domestic responsibilities and this is then one of the contributors to the gender pay gap. However, if women are treated the same as men as the Equality Law requires, then the differences between men and women are denied or minimized which is neither feasible nor desirable (Grimshaw & Rubery, 2015; Liff & Wajcman, 1996). A similar argument comes from Webb (1997) who highlights how women can never really work in the same way that men work so the parity approach has a detrimental effect on women (See also Begeny et al., 2020; Gallie & Zhou, 2011; Gilbert et al., 2012). In practical terms, Schwartz (1992) points out that flexibility for women and men who need it will contribute to eliminating barriers that exist in the workplace for both women and all working parents and predicts that, by doing this, companies will gain significant financial benefits. The radical approach recognizes the need for equality of opportunity, but also the need for equality of outcome. The radical approach focuses on groups rather than individuals as it recognizes that historical disadvantage exists for certain groups within employment, including women (Jewson & Mason, 1986). The radical approach recognizes ‘difference’ and acknowledges that to reduce inequality of outcome certain groups should be treated differently. Because


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individuals are treated the same way when it comes to recruitment, selection and promotion. Attributes such as experience, qualifications, job performance and commitment are the basis of selection; resulting in characteristics that are nonjob related such as ethnicity, disability and gender not being considered and a lack of representation from these group results. Ensuring that there is representation from all groups is the objective of the radical approach; introducing targets or quotas for under-represented groups can help to achieve this (Kirton & Greene, 2016). In contrast to the liberal approach, ensuring all groups are represented would mean a deciding or even primary factor would be the group an individual belonged to even over considerations of merit (Kaler, 2001). The radical approach advocates policies that will result in fair distribution of disadvantaged groups in the workplace (Jewson & Mason, 1986; Noon, 2010). As with the liberal approach, there are criticisms levelled at the radical approach (Kirton, Greene, & Dean, 2007; Liff, 1996; van Dijk, van Engen, & Paauwe, 2012). Cockburn (1989, p. 217) called the radical approach ‘retrogressive in further dividing the already divided powerless groups’. For instance, although the use of a radical approach could promote the relative position of one disadvantaged group, it did not promise any improvement in the structures that perpetuate inequalities at work for women and other disadvantaged groups, ¨ which will mean the gender pay gap is not improved. Ozbilgin (2000) argued that affirmative action, aimed at promoting the career prospects of a disadvantaged group, is ‘reform tokenism’, something that delayed real change towards equality. A key aspect behind some models of diversity management is the ‘business case’; in other words, that, by valuing and acknowledging the diversity of their workforces, organizations will benefit commercially (Kirton et al., 2007; van Dijk et al., 2012). The Business Case and Moral Case Despite the arguments around the radical approach and the liberal approach to equality of opportunity, it is widely regarded that the equal opportunity approach emphasizes social justice and fairness (the moral case) and there is a competing solution: the management of diversity (the business case) that focuses on the needs of the organization (Miller, 1996; Noon & Ogbonna, 2001). To ensure that workers’ rights are protected, the moral case needs powerful voice mechanisms, on the other hand the business case requires managers to decide, which, if any, voice mechanisms should be present in the workplace (Baker & Kelan, 2018; Knights & Omanovi´c, 2016). Proponents of the business case claim that diversity pays and has potential benefits for employers such as savings, increased employee commitment, enhanced creativity, improved problem-solving and higher levels of performance (Foster & Harris, 2005; Herring, 2009; Hubbard, 2004). Many organizations now claim to have adopted a diversity approach (Baker & Kelan, 2018; Kirton & Greene, 2016). However, diversity management may not help to reduce wage differentials between men and women (van Dijk et al., 2012). One of the criticisms of this approach is the warning that:

Decent Work: Gender and Equal Opportunity Policies and Outcomes


…unfortunately the market model of “diversity” may have more to do with corporate image-building than with the kind of interventions designed to facilitate more egalitarian work organisation and increased inclusion of women. … Diversity is valued only if it offers the employer more efficient, committed labour. (Webb, 1997, p. 166) So although the discourse around diversity management highlights the question of social justice by linking it to improved economic performance, it is acknowledged that the economic benefits dominate (Baker & Kelan, 2018; Knights & Omanovi´c, 2016; Lorbiecki & Jack, 2000); this can be problematic: …if there is no complementary recourse to a broader social justice or moral case beyond direct and quantifiable organisational benefits and ignores deep-seated societal discrimination and patterns of disadvantage. (Kirton & Greene, 2016, p. 131) It is argued that the equal opportunity approach emphasizing social justice and fairness (the moral case) should not be abandoned for the diversity management approach that focuses primarily on the needs of the organization (the business case) (Noon, 2012). This shift could potentially undermine equality outcomes such as closing the gender pay gap and ultimately prove dangerous for social justice (Noon, 2007). The Impact of Equal Opportunity Polices on a Range of Outcomes The literature on how equal opportunities have a positive impact upon workplace outcomes such as recruitment and selection and on pay and promotion, amongst others, reveals that such policies may lead to a larger pool of suitably qualified applicants resulting in higher levels of human capital within the workplace (Metcalf & Forth, 2000; Welsh, Knoz, & Brett, 1994). Such policies may also reduce the number of disputes within workplaces between managers and employees resulting in an increase in morale within establishments (Metcalf & Forth, 2000). Other potential benefits include fewer instances of discrimination in recruitment, pay and promotion procedures resulting in an improved match between individuals and jobs, again, enhancing workplace morale (Blau, Ferber, & Winkler, 1998; Holzer & Neumark, 1999) and discriminated groups may experience improved career prospects that would encourage them to stay within the organization (Schotter & Weigelt, 1992). Empirical studies that examine equality policies and company performance show that if there is a positive association, this tends to be in larger organizations; however, these studies did not find a cost associated with such policies (Armstrong et al., 2010; Riley, Metcalf, & Forth, 2008). When examining productivity there was some evidence of higher productivity linked to equality policies (P´erotin & Robinson, 2000; Subeliani & Tsogas, 2005). Studies linking


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equality policies to higher levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment found a positive association (Armstrong et al., 2010; O’Connell & Russell, 2005; Sanchez & Brock, 1996). Possible Contextual Influences Many theories and studies tend to downplay potentially important factors that may influence the link between gender and pay outcomes. For instance, the role of national, sectoral and regional institutions in shaping the nature of organizations in different locations is likely to influence the types of employment policies that organizations adopt (Allen, Liu, Allen, & Saqib, 2017), including potentially equal opportunity policies. Furthermore, the strategic priorities of firms – and, hence, the importance of the ‘business case’ to achieve commercial goals above and beyond any moral imperative – will vary according to corporate governance regulations that differ from country to country. Although some comparative analyses of how corporate governance influence organizations’ employment strategies, there is room to build on these to examine when efforts to promote greater gender equality are likely to be most effective.

Conclusion The gender pay gap continues in the UK despite legislation introduced in 1970 that sought to eliminate it. The complexity and persistence of the gender pay gap suggests that theoretical explanations of the pay differentials between men and women that focus on a relatively limited range of factors are unlikely to fully capture the reasons for it. They are, therefore, unlikely to provide an analytical basis upon which to eliminate it. In particular, neo-classical theoretical explanations based on notions of individuals’ free choice and ‘fair’ rewards for levels of human capital fail to explain differences between pay for men and women in different sectors and their capacities to enable women to work and perform care responsibilities. Similarly, the continuing debates around whether equal opportunities or diversity management policies suggest that neither approach can fully explain or remedy the gender pay gap. Theories and associated empirical assessments of them, therefore, require additional factors to enhance our understanding of wage differentials between men and women. For instance, existing empirical analyses of the links between equal opportunities and gender pay gaps within workplaces tend to rely on quantitative evidence and rely on a variable to capture the presence or absence of such policies; however, such studies do not typically examine how those policies are implemented and how the company responds to gender pay gaps. Many companies and workplaces may have equal opportunity policies in place to monitor the gender pay gap; however, it is unclear how many workplaces and employers respond to that information and seek to remedy it. Legislation in the UK to make the reporting of pay differences between men and women mandatory may spur on efforts in companies to reduce the gap. The various means by which companies may do

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this – by, for instance, including employee representatives in any remedial measures and how companies may reward managers for reducing the gender pay gap – are not included in either theoretical or empirical analyses. Less parsimonious, more contextualized theories and empirical analyses are needed both to explain and reduce the gender pay gap.

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Chapter 6

The Role of International and Integrated Sustainability Frameworks in Enhancing Decent Work and Employee Value Janet Haddock-Fraser

Abstract The interdependencies of people and planet have never been as stark as they are currently, with human-induced global issues prominent, not least climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and issues of social justice and security. In parallel, institutions, academics and governments are moving towards greater understanding and appreciation of the interdependencies between human and physical systems to drive forward positive change. This chapter focuses on, within the miasmic complexity presented above, how the wider sustainability agenda interacts with the workforce (employees) for the benefit of themselves and their welfare and well-being, as well as that of their employer, the planet and wider society. In particular, the chapter explores two Frameworks – (1) the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (and particularly Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Development); (2) the International Integrated Reporting Framework (I,IR.F) and particularly how human capital is represented. Keywords: Sustainability; human capital; UNSDG; welfare; development; value

Introduction What is an employee’s value to their employer? This seems a straightforward question to which an obvious economic answer may be ‘wages plus benefits’ (e.g. pension, health insurance, holidays, accommodation etc.). Looking deeper, other factors arise that question this response, such as ‘what does their job entail?’. For instance, does employee value depend on their contribution to the financial success of the organization they are employed by, for expert knowledge and skills Decent Work, 69–82 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211006


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they have or for the wider benefits their role brings to society and/or the environment? Additionally, is consideration given to the health and well-being of the individual, as a valued individual not just a ‘unit of resource’? Some of these questions align with the components of decent work identified by Duffy et al. (2017): (1) safe working environments (interpersonal and physical); (2) adequate free time and rest within working hours; (3) an alignment of organizational values with individual and family values; (4) adequate remuneration; and (5) access to adequate healthcare.1 As an employee is likely to be valued for their productivity (however measured), mismatches between productivity and their potential productivity need to be understood. They can depend on health and well-being, but also elements such as survival needs, social connection needs and self-determination needs manifested through job security, supportive organizational cultures and opportunities for development and ‘voice’ in the organization (Dodd, Hooley, & Burke, 2019). These considerations could be both instrumental (linking well-being to productivity) and also resonate ethically and morally. This is not necessarily a modern stance: similar views were opined by Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments from the eighteenth century. However selfish so ever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it. (Adam Smith, 1759, p. 1) Smith’s view subsequently got lost in the midst of nineteenth-century industrialization, with key industrial philanthropists such as Carnegie and Cadbury’s powerful employee health and welfare schemes offering utilitarian benefit to employees and the company, complementing their ethical values. More recently, there has been greater consideration and care for the value of employees in the wider sense. In tandem to this awareness and understanding of the links between human society, the economy and the natural environment through sustainability and sustainable development has heightened, with the value of employees embedded within this. Sustainability in and of itself is a complex and evolving paradigm, but with the inclusion of decent work in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 and the notion of human capital as part of collective value through Integrated Reporting (IR) (IIRC, 2016), organizations and state actors are now provided with an opportunity to understand, critique, report and improve on how they understand and measure employee value and decent work. From this, the purpose of this chapter is to examine how, through the UN SDGs and IR (I,IR.F), employee value and decent work has supported and been enhanced by social and environmental sustainability within society and organizations. This is a newly evolving area with organisations that are in the relatively early stages of adopting either/and the I,IR.F and UN SDGs. Thus, the chapter draws on both theoretical and empirical material. Its intent is to raise awareness of the whole operational and societal approach to sustainability

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emerging as new norms for assessment and reporting beyond old ‘finance-first’ models, to recognize decent work and employee value.

Sustainability and the Incorporation of Decent Work Just over three decades ago, the terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ appeared in policy language, with the publication of the Brundtland Commission Report (1987). This identified the nexus of human development with environmental management and protection without hindering economic development, through the confluence of economic, social and environmental sustainability. Since then, substantial progress has been made in refining the definition, expanding the scope and determining means by which sustainability can be measured and delivered. Global initiatives contributing to these include the development of the UN Millennium Development and subsequently the UN SDGs (United Nations, 2015). The SDGs commit world leaders to a wide-ranging and ambitious set of goals that member states, businesses and society are expected to follow to frame policy, organizational goals and political priorities. The SDGs provide a broad-based sustainable development agenda recognizing synergies and links between economic development, poverty alleviation, human rights and ecosystems, but can also be seen as unwieldy in practice (Brown, 2016). The 17 separate goals (which further disaggregate into 69 indicators) are shown in Fig. 6.1. Of particular interest here is Goal 8, ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’, which seeks to ‘promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’ (United Nations, 2016). The targets within this, noting the components that relate directly to decent work, are provided in Table 6.1 below.

Fig. 6.1.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Source: United Nations (2015).


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Table 6.1. Sustainable Development Goal 8 Targets and Decent Work for All. Targets for SDG 8 ‘to Promote Sustained, Inclusive and Economic Growth, Full and Productive Employment and Decent Work for All’.

8.1 Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7% gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries 8.2 Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on highvalue added and labour-intensive sectors 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead 8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value 8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training 8.7 Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms 8.8 Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment

Decent Work Pillar2

• •

8.3 Fostering eEmployment 8.3 Social Protection

8.5 All four pillars

• •

8.6 Fostering Employment 8.7 Rights at work

• •

8.8 Rights at work 8.8 Social protection

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Table 6.1. (Continued) Targets for SDG 8 ‘to Promote Sustained, Inclusive and Economic Growth, Full and Productive Employment and Decent Work for All’.

8.9 By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products 8.10 Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all 8.A Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries 8.B By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization

Decent Work Pillar2

8.9 Fostering employment

8.B Potentially all four pillars

Source: Frey (2017, p. 1170). 2UNGA (2015).

Application of this goal and its targets is not straightforward or without critics. First, in practical terms, the SDGs – although itemized by goals and targets – are not intended to be considered in isolation from each other. For instance, there are clear links between an aspiration for decent work and not only health and wellbeing, but also education, zero poverty, gender equality, responsible production and consumption and so on. It has been suggested that Goals 1–16 speak to human rights of a socio-economic nature related to human well-being and the provision of public goods (education, health, for instance), but when considered alongside SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals), the relevance of businesses to step up to these targets becomes evident whether through ‘avoiding harm’ but preferably by ‘doing good’ (Buhmann, Jonsson, & Fisker, 2019). This means in practice that any employer needs to consider the relevance of their performance against the SDGs for all stakeholders, including employees, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. Others question the paradoxical nature of the SDG with the merger of economic development and decent work (incorporating full employment). Frey (2017) queries how the goal can incorporate the desires of corporate interests to prioritize economic growth and a market-centred approach with the desires of human rights groups and the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation).


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Guidelines on this do exist in the form of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UN, 2011) and the UN Respect, Protect and Remedy Framework (UN, 2008). Both reports recognize the triumvirate need of: (1) state duty to protect against business-related human right abuse; (2) corporate responsibility to respect human rights; (3) joint provision of access to remedy a situation where human rights are perceived to be impinged upon by business practices (Buhmann et al., 2019). Such a seemingly paradoxical issue has been part of the debate within the corporate sectors for two decades now, through the notion of moral legitimacy informing Political Corporate Social Responsibility (P-CSR) and informed by a multi-stakeholder approach (Kolk & Lenfant, 2013). P-CSR recognizes that companies are involved with both economic and ‘political’ actors, contributing to economic development as well as the delivery of public goods (e.g. health, wellbeing, education of employees, dependents, communities) (Scherer, Rasche, Palazzo, & Spicer, 2016). With increased awareness and interest by consumers of the provenance and narrative of goods and services acquired, the need for companies to deliver on moral legitimacy is more compelling than ever. Iglesias, Markovic, Bagherzadeh, and Singh (2020) synopsize a range of evidence for this based on corporate and consumer surveys.

• • • •

The 2016 Global RepTrak 100 Report (Reputation Institute, 2016) identified corporate social responsibility as an important precursor of corporate reputation and linked to better stock value performance. Two-thirds of chief executive officers (CEOs) surveyed by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) (2016) considered CSR was at the heart of their corporate strategy and actions with 45% expecting them to make more socially responsible investments going forward. These beliefs are driven by perceptions of the growing importance that customers are giving to socially responsible consumption and brand reputation in this regard. Part of the consumer pressure has been driven by the rapid development of information technology and rapid transmission of information globally.

This calibrates with data provided by PWC’s SDG Challenge 2019 (PWC, 2019). Through surveying 1,141 responses from 31 countries and 7 industry sectors, they observed that 72% mentioned the relevance of the UN SDGs in their reporting publications, with 65% of all respondents mentioning specific goals, of which SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Development, continued to be the highest priority (as it had been for the previous two years) with 86% of companies identifying it as one of their top three priorities. Climate Action (SDG 13) and Responsible Production and Consumption (SDG 13) were second and third. Across the industry sectors surveyed, only Energy Utilities and Resources did not place it as first priority, but second to Climate Action. In terms of engagement with specific Decent Work and Economic Growth targets, 52% of respondents mentioning specific goals cited 8.8, Protect labour

The Role of International and Integrated


rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment. The second most selected target was 8.5 cited by 41%, By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. Whilst this may seem impressive engagement by the respondents, who are assumed to be large corporates and PWC clients, tangible target setting and measurement is embryonic, with only 14% of respondents mentioning specific targets of any type. Just over 5% of all respondents set qualitative ambitions, 2.5% measured their targets quantitatively and just over 1% of the entire sample (12 companies) report quantitively their progress towards targets. That being said, the trajectory of interest and engagement at national and international level points to more organizations engaging and measuring their decent work provision through the UN SDGs. As large corporates engage so their smaller suppliers will follow, such that – as with ethical trading and fair trade initiatives – transparency of practice and development of good practice will evolve through the supply chain and competitive engagement processes.

Measuring Employee Value and Sustainability In parallel to the development of the UN SDGs, academics, public policy professionals and business have been addressing what is meant by the notion of their ‘value’ holistically within organizations or geographic regions. A catalyst for this approach came from Jonathan Porritt’s Five Capitals Model (Porritt, 2005) in his now iconic book Capitalism as if the World Mattered. Porritt’s assertion within this is that the term ‘capital’ within the world economic system has concentrated on money and financial wealth – its acquisition and use. But if society recognized ‘capital’ as ‘entities of value’ (in Porritt’s case, his driver has been to work with the grain of capitalism for the benefit of the natural environment), different priorities would bring to bear positive change for people and the planet. His model identifies five categories of value (termed ‘capital’). (1) Financial Capital which plays an important role in the economy, enabling trade and acquisition. But it has no real value itself; it merely represents natural, human, social or manufactured capital, e.g. shares, bonds or banknotes. (2) Manufactured Capital refers to material goods or fixed assets that contribute to production processes – e.g. tools, machines and buildings. (3) Social Capital refers to the institutions that help maintain and develop people in partnership with others, e.g. families, communities, businesses, trade unions, schools and voluntary organizations. (4) Human Capital refers to the health, knowledge, skills and motivation of people, needed for productive work. Human capital can be enhanced through education and training. (5) Natural Capital is basically ‘the natural environment’ and includes:


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• • •

Resources – renewable and non-renewable materials; Sinks – that absorb, neutralize or recycle wastes; Processes – such as climate regulation.

These terms in themselves were not novel. The concept of human capital, for instance, has a long history, extending back to the writings of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx (Sellar & Zipin, 2019), but gained heightened interest during the 1960s and 1970s in neoclassical economic theory (e.g. Becker, 1975). These were largely instrumental approaches, linking human value/capital to employee productivity, a notion seen as morally offencive to some, and ‘to treat human beings as wealth that can be augmented by investment runs counter to deeply held values’ (Schultz, 1971, p. 26). More recent perspectives have widened the notion of human capital, however, as discussed by Stark (2009) who notes the morphing of the moral domain of ‘human worth’ (beyond economic value per se, to include notions of well-being and motivation, for instance) into definitions of human capital. More recently, as discussed below, leveraging human capital for ethical and environmental benefit can bring synergistic benefits. In this context, the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) defines human capital as: People’s competencies, capabilities and experiences, and their motivations to innovate, including their:

• • •

alignment with and support for an organization’s governance framework, risk management approach, and ethical values ability to understand, develop and implement an organization’s strategy loyalties and motivations for improving processes, goods and services, including their ability to lead, manage and collaborate (IIRC, 2016)

This definition has been selected as it builds on the notion of human value that increases productivity and moves beyond it, to include engagement with others but particularly for the valence given to employee and organization values alignment (first bullet point, above). Second, the provenance of this definition arises from the organization (IIRC) that developed the International Integrated Reporting Framework (I,IR.F), which builds on Porritt’s holistic Five Capitals model. The IIRC comprises accounting experts, standard setters from private companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as investors, regulators and academics. The group has worked to create a common, flexible, reporting framework to deliver holistically on the notion of value (Kannenberg & Schreck, 2019). The key aims are to:

• •

Improve the quality of information available to providers of financial capital to enable a more efficient and productive allocation of capital; Promote a more cohesive and efficient approach to corporate reporting that draws on different reporting strands and communicates the full range of factors that materially affect the ability of an organization to create value over time;

The Role of International and Integrated

• •


Enhance accountability and stewardship for the broad base of capitals (financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social and relationship, and natural) and promote understanding of their interdependencies; Support integrated thinking, decision-making and actions that focus on the creation of value over the short, medium and long term. (International Integrated Reporting Council, 2013, p. 2)

Of particular note in the IIRC model is the inclusion of a sixth capital ‘intellectual capital’ (which includes the expertise of employees, organizational processes, and sum of knowledge contained within the organization). The model assumes fluidity between six types of capital stocks, adding value to the system (organization) through ‘flows’ or ‘activities’ and recognizes the interplay and interdependencies between the different types of capital. In practice, strategic thinking and measurement within corporations is increasingly moving away from reporting that only focusses on financial success, through a period where a series of ‘stand-alone’ reports on specific issues being produced, towards a concept of ‘integrated’ reporting. However, the true value of reporting is when it is integrated into the concept of value holistically and interdependencies between capitals allow new thinking. The I,IR.F is provided in Fig. 6.2. The I,IR.F has seen many iterations since its initial development, including a mapping exercise illustrating how the UN SDGs can be mapped onto each capital (Adams, 2015), as well as application developments through wide take-up

Fig. 6.2. Integrated Reporting Framework (I,IR.F). Source:


Janet Haddock-Fraser

across many different business sectors. Large accountancy and consultancy companies have developed proprietary models with similar principles (such as PWC’s Total Impact Measuring and Management Framework, (PWC, 2018)). The use of IR is expanding rapidly. Sweet (2019) noted that interest and relevance for organizations has doubled between 2018 and 19, with 35% of UK premiumlisted companies are ‘clearly considering the capitals in their business models’, 58% of the top 40 French companies and 48% of the 200 largest listed companies in Australia using at least some of the principles of IR. Notwithstanding rising interest and use, IR is not without issue, particularly in respect of implementation. Dumay, Bernardi, Guthrie, and La Torre (2017) synthesized barriers to implementation from reviewing experiences of the early users. The range of barriers included:

• • •

Conceptual complexity of combining the six capitals for many managers and employees, particularly for those whose roles did not give a whole organization view; The need for organizational cultural change to precipitate different ways of working to enable six-capitals thinking; Anxiety about ‘full disclosure’ of value (where the term ‘value’ in itself is a somewhat vague concept open to interpretation) in instances where some processes taken in isolation seem to be ‘negative value’. This may apply, for instance, in trade-offs between carbon emissions and cost. As noted: Put simply, requiring all organisations that report on value creation to identify clearly all of their increases, decreases or transformations of the capitals caused by the organisation’s business activities and outputs demands full disclosure of not just value creation but also the value destruction that companies cause. This might well be one of the reasons why so few companies even bother to report on the six capitals. (Dumay et al., 2017, p. 467)

Additionally, the Framework does not prescribe how the capitals should be measured. In the case of human capital, it is for the reporting organization to determine which activities, outputs or outcomes are relevant. However, there is a general consensus around enhanced skills development and well-being as core factors influencing more positive value. The Chartered Institute of Personnel Directors (CIPD) suggest core Human Resources (HR) measures such as turnover, retention, health and well-being indicators, staff satisfaction, training and development opportunities and indicators of positive, productive organizational cultures. The missing link within this scoping is how human capital engages with the other capitals for mutual benefit. As the particular interest in this chapter is sustainability, the stocks and flows of social and natural capital and their relationship to human capital are of particular interest, and there are examples emerging where these links have been explicitly made. One such example is that of Triodos Bank N.V., a Netherlands-based ethical bank, established in 1980.

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Triodos have reported using the I,IR.F for over three years now, and their value model informs and is an integral part of its annual report. The core purpose of the Bank, in terms of its value/capitals model is to: …. creates value by transforming capital inputs. These inputs include the skills and entrepreneurship of the people within our organisation and money from customers, via our core products and services. It transforms these inputs into value outputs so that they make a positive contribution to the development of a healthy society that’s able to flourish within our planetary limits. (Triodos, 2019, p. 224) Specifically, it outlines how it frames its capital inputs, such as human capital, for its value outputs, including ‘planet’ (environmental and social sustainability). Inputs include, for example:

• • •

Human capital, such as skilled and committed staff who buy into the Triodos mission; Social and relationship capital, through engagement with networks enabling information sharing across the sector; Financial capital through attracting a customer base that shares Triodos values.

These work together to deliver value outputs relating to people, planet and prosperity, with quantitative targets in some instances and more subjective aspiration in others. For instance:

• • •

Making a positive contribution to the healthy development of society; Sustainability sourced and managed suppliers; Leverage ratio of at least 7% ensuring resilience. (Triodos, 2019)

Triodos provides a good example as to how human capital can be enhanced through motivating, values-aligning corporate mission, in this case of ethical banking. This aligns with other findings; for example, De Souza et al. (2019) who identified through taking Ability–Motivation–Opportunity theory as a context that employees engaged in establishing eco-efficiency enhancements for their organizations felt high levels of empowerment, responsibility, freedom to make decisions and innovative, as the initiative operated outside of the normal hierarchy and brought all participants together in a common, values-based purpose.

Final Reflections It is clear from the above that notions of human rights, welfare, development and value, whether as citizens or employees, has begun to be incorporated into


Janet Haddock-Fraser

structured measurement and reporting frameworks for sustainability. They are both models that offer not only accountability but also opportunity, for those using them as they enable heightened awareness and understanding for stakeholders of ethical/moral stances and value, whether the value of ‘doing the right thing’ or more instrumental stances. The SDGs are internationally relevant and potentially could lead to transformational change. In terms of their operation, there is a risk that human rights and development through its ‘decent work and economic growth goal’ (SDG8) is treated as nothing more than a hygiene factor, responding to satisficing other international human rights and labour initiatives, with many of the targets being a ‘floor’ for acceptable practice rather than aspirational calls for best practice. Additionally, the SDGs have led for many to ‘issue specific’ reporting, focussing on good news stories, rather than being used in an holistic, critical analytical manner to enhance sustainability. IR, as an addition rather than alternative to use of the SDGs, does offer the opportunity for enhancement, whether of human capital (employees) or other aspects of organizational value and also encourages exploration of interrelationships between its different ‘capitals’ as a working precept for the framework. However, as noted above, full articulation of IR, with targets for improvements and monitoring against them, is difficult in practice in any detail. In instances, such as the example of Triodos Bank above, it can be used successfully to articulate human capital enhancement through delivery of ethical/sustainability organizational mission. Where this is the case, it counters legitimate concerns of instrumentalism and allows IR and its value propositions to deliver employee actualization beyond traditional productivity measures. Of course, both models are still ‘works in progress’ in terms of the complexity of wide-scale implementation, in reporting at issue-specific level but also holistically, but any progress towards decent work and employee value (beyond pure economic value) is a step in the right direction and to be encouraged.

Notes 1. Value in this regard depends on employer and stakeholder considerations. 2. UNGA (2015).

References Adams, C. A. (2015). The International Integrated Reporting Council: A call to action. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 27, 23–28. Becker, G. (1975). Human capital: A theoretical and empirical analysis, with special reference to education (2nd ed.). New York, NY: National Bureau of Economic Research. Brown, M. (2016). The sustainable development goals: A lens for social responsibility. University of Edinburgh. Retrieved from p51008. Accessed on May 27, 2020.

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Buhmann, K., Jonsson, J., & Fisker, M. (2019). Do no harm and do more good too: Connecting the SDGs with business and human rights and political CSR theory. Corporate Governance, 19(3), 389–403. De Souza, S. M., Chiappetta, C. J., Battistelle, R. A. G., Rodrigues, J. M., Renwick, S. W., Foropan, C., & Roubaud, D. (2019). When knowledge management matters: Interplay between green human resources and eco-efficiency in the financial service industry. Journal of Knowledge Management, 23(9), 1691–1707. Dodd, V., Hooley, T., & Burke, C. (2019). Decent work in the UK: Context, conceptualization, and assessment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 112, 270–281. Duffy, R. D., Allan, B. A., Blustein, D. L., England, J. W., Autin, K. L., Douglass, R. P., & Santos, E. J. R. (2017). The development and initial validation of the Decent Work Scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64, 206–221. doi:10.1037/ cou0000191 Dumay, J., Bernardi, C., Guthrie, J., & La Torre, M. (2017). Barriers to implementing the international integrated reporting framework: A contemporary academic perspective. Meditari Accountancy Research, 25(4), 461–480. Frey, D. F. (2017). Economic growth, full employment and decent work: The means and ends in SDG8. The International Journal of Human Rights, 21(8), 1164–1184. Iglesias, O., Markovic, S., Bagherzadeh, M., & Singh, J. J. (2020). Co-creation: A key link between corporate social responsibility, customer trust, and customer loyalty. Journal of Business Ethics, 163, 151–166. International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). (2013). Retrieved from https:// Accessed on April 26, 2020. International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). (2016). Creating value: The value of human capital reporting. Retrieved from Accessed on June 18, 2020. Kannenberg, L., & Schreck, P. (2019). Integrated reporting: Boon or bane? A review of empirical research on its determinants and implications. Journal of Business Economics, 89, 515–567. Kolk, A., & Lenfant, F. (2013). Multinationals, CSR and partnerships in central African conflict countries. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 20(1), 43–54. Porritt, J. (2005). Capitalism as if the World Mattered. London: Earthscan. PWC. (2016). Redefining business success in a changing world. Retrieved from http:// Accessed on June 10, 2020. PWC. (2018). SDG reporting challenge 2018: Explore the data. Retrieved from https:// PWC. (2019). Creating a strategy for a better world: How the sustainable development goals can provide the framework for business to deliver progress on our global challenges. Retrieved from Reputation Institute. (2016). Global RepTrak, what is your company’s reputation? Retrieved from Accessed on June 10, 2020.


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Scherer, A. G., Rasche, A., Palazzo, G., & Spicer, A. (2016). Managing for political corporate social responsibility: New challenges and directions for PCSR 2.0. Journal of Management Studies, 53(3), 273–298. Schultz, T. W. (1971). Investment in human capital: The role of education and of research. New York, NY: Free Press. Sellar, S., & Zipin, L. (2019). Conjuring optimism in dark times: Education, affect and human capital. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 51(6), 572–586. Smith, A. (1759). The theory of moral sentiments opening line. In R. Swedburg (Ed.), Principles of economic sociology (p. 3). Princeton, NJ; London: Princeton University Press. Stark, D. (2009). The sense of dissonance: Accounts of worth in economic life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Sweet, P. (2019). Listed companies increase use of integrated reporting says IIRC. Accountancy Daily, September, 23. Retrieved from https://www.accountancydaily. co/listed-companies-increase-use-integrated-reporting-says-iirc. Accessed on June 10, 2020. Triodos. (2019). Triodos Bank annual report 2019. Retrieved from https://www. ar19.pdf. Accessed on June 20, 2020. UNGA. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly on September 25, 2015, UN Doc A/RES/70/1 (2015). Retrieved from post2015/transformingourworld. Accessed on June 10, 2020. United Nations. (2008). Protect, respect and remedy: A framework for business and human rights, report of the special representative of the secretary-general on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. John Ruggie. UN Doc. A/HRC/8/5. United Nations. (2011). Guiding principles on business and human rights: Implementing the united Nations ‘protect, respect and remedy’ framework. UN Doc. A/ HRC/17/31. United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Washington, DC: United Nations. United Nations. (2016). United Nations sustainable development goals. Retrieved from Accessed on July 28, 2019.

Chapter 7

Entrepreneurship Skills Needs and Policies: Contribution to Decent Work Sumona Mukhuty and Steve Johnson

Abstract This chapter explores the relationship between entrepreneurship skills and decent work (DW), and how policy can help achieve this. We review the entrepreneurship skills literature in the context of DW, highlighting the key entrepreneurship skills needed in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Thereafter, we extract lessons from selected policy initiatives in countries with broad similarities (Australia, Canada, United States and England), through the lens of DW. Our review draws on peer-reviewed journals and key United Nations and global entrepreneurship platform publications. Entrepreneurship skills deficiencies have a detrimental impact on the success and sustainability of SMEs. Yet, SME’s survival and growth is currently crucial, whereby organizations need to transform in response to changing environmental, political, technological and consumer needs. This is intensified by the challenges of Covid-19, severely affecting DW and productivity. To develop and retain even a semblance of ‘decent work’, entrepreneurs need to develop appropriate skills and there is a need for suitable policy addressing this. In this chapter, we present lessons learnt based on our review and provide recommendations for entrepreneurship skills development policies aligning with DW. Keywords: Decent work; entrepreneurship; entrepreneurship skills; small and medium enterprise; public policy; international

Introduction In this chapter, we evaluate the entrepreneurship skills needed to facilitate decent work (DW) and explore the role of policy intervention. The aims are twofold: (1) Identify and evaluate key entrepreneurship skills which can facilitate DW [reduce unemployment, increase economic growth, enhance work security/dignity and Decent Work, 83–96 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211007


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work-life balance (International Labour Organisation (ILO), 2018)] and examine how these skills can be acquired; (2) Consider the case for policy intervention to develop entrepreneurship skills for DW and draw lessons from selected policy initiatives in a range of countries. DW is a complex and comprehensive concept, which may be summed up as ‘productive work in which rights are protected, which generates an adequate income, with adequate social protection’ (ILO, 1999), the core focus being to ensure high ‘quality of employment’ (Burchell, Sehnbruch, Piasna, & Agloni, 2014). Economic measures including gross domestic product and unemployment rates have traditionally been used as DW indicators (Land, 1975). However, quality of work is a concept which goes beyond being employed, as a job can often fall short of ensuring even basic living standards (Burchell et al., 2014). An essential aspect of DW now emphasizes working conditions, attention to health and safety (Dhondt, Kraan, & Sloten, 2002) and job security (Gallie, 2007; Gallie, Felstead, & Green, 2004). Burchell et al. (2014) classified DW into the working environment level encompassing working conditions and health and safety, and the aggregate level, which includes legislation, policies and social protection. This is particularly revealing when juxtaposed with entrepreneurs and the nature of their work and efforts. Entrepreneurs are responsible for their own livelihood and that of their employees. At the individual level, there is evidence of numerous small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) entrepreneurs working long hours and drawing significantly reduced incomes to support the business and help it grow. Only around 60% of start-up entrepreneurial ventures in the United Kingdom survive for three years (Office of National Statistics, 2019); hence, sustaining and growing an entrepreneurial venture and simultaneously aligning with DW parameters can be extremely challenging. Taking into account the long hours invested, it appears that a number of business owners are working below even the national minimum wage (Stephan, 2018; van Praag & Versloot, 2008). This is arguably the antithesis of DW as adequate remuneration and healthy working times are key principles of DW (Ghai, 2003). This, in turn, would have a direct impact of the health and well-being of entrepreneurs (Stephan, 2018), particularly in terms of mental health including issues of stress and anxiety. In this respect, entrepreneurs running SMEs could be debatably compared to ‘precarious’ workers (Campbell & Price, 2016; Kalleberg & Vallas, 2017). Hence, it is important to develop an understanding of the skills needed by entrepreneurs to sustain and grow their entrepreneurial ventures, while also paying heed to the DW agenda, both for themselves and for their employees. A particular focus of our discussion is on the skills required for entrepreneurs and SMEs to develop key characteristics associated with survival and growth. We observe that key attributes such as resilience and innovativeness tend to be less prevalent in entrepreneurial skills programmes than conventional ‘hard’ skills. Moreover, conventional pedagogical approaches to entrepreneurial skills tend not to engage stakeholders, notably employees, and therefore risk downplaying the potential benefits for entrepreneurs. Understanding and finding ways to develop DW or high quality of work is increasingly receiving the interest and investment of researchers and policymakers (Burchell et al., 2014).

Entrepreneurship Skills Needs and Policies


This chapter adds value in three ways. (1) Most entrepreneurship ventures struggle to survive and grow. Recommendations for developing entrepreneurship skills through appropriate policy intervention will assist entrepreneurial ventures to survive/grow profitably leading to wider economic growth (Hoppe, 2016), employment, security/dignity of work – key indicators of the United Nations (UN) DW and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda for 2030 (ILO, 2018). (2) We also contribute to the DW agenda of fairness, equality and work-life balance (ILO, 2018). Improved entrepreneurship skills and relevant policy interventions can educate entrepreneurs/SME leaders about the benefits of ‘decent work’ conditions for employees (work-life balance, decent pay, pensions, holiday, parental leave, flexible hours etc.). This will facilitate DW for the economy and individuals. (3) Entrepreneurs themselves can benefit from developing skills to enhance DW, as many entrepreneurs suffer from poor work-life balance, insecurity and stress.

Methodology We conduct a narrative review of the literature on entrepreneurship skills and entrepreneurship policy. Within this review, we included research articles and policy documentation from the year 1999 onwards, when the concept of DW was introduced (ILO, 1999). We identified relevant research studies through a threestep approach. First, we identified relevant articles from databases using the agreed keywords of ‘entrepreneurship and skills’, ‘DW and entrepreneurship skills’, ‘entrepreneurship and policy’, ‘entrepreneurship skills and policy’ and ‘DW and entrepreneurship policy’. The databases we searched include Web of Science, EBSCO, Business Source Premier and Google Scholar. Second, we extracted relevant articles from the Chartered Association of Business Schools (ABS) journal list. Finally, we drew upon germane articles cited in the articles located in the first and second step. In addition, we include relevant ‘grey’ literature, particularly ILO and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) publications. We focused the policy review on Australia, United States, Canada and England, and drew upon contextual policy information from international organizations like the OECD, European Union, UN ILO and Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). We also refer to a report on entrepreneurship skills policies we produced for the UK Department of Business Enterprise and Skills (Johnson, Fletcher, Mukhuty, Snowden, & Williams, 2015). We selected the above countries based on their broad similarities in terms of their economy, culture and policy orientations, as well as their focus on entrepreneurship policy and potential to apply the lessons learnt between the countries.

Review of Entrepreneurship Skills for Business Growth and Decent Work In this section, we review the literature on entrepreneurship skills needed for business growth while facilitating DW for the entrepreneur. A positive relationship has been


Sumona Mukhuty and Steve Johnson

observed between entrepreneurs’ self-observed skills and certain aspects of entrepreneurial venture performance (Hayton, 2015). Here, we identify and analyze the key entrepreneurship skills which need to be developed in order to sustain and grow entrepreneurial ventures while enabling DW for entrepreneurs and employees. The traditional definition of entrepreneurship skills entails creativity, innovation, opportunity recognition, as well as leadership and management skills (Chell, 2013; Mitchelmore & Rowley, 2010). According to Chell (2013), skills entail performance expertise, which are improvable through training and practice. She states: Skills are multidimensional constructs; they comprise the cognitive – knowledge and what is learnt; the affective – emotional expression and what is experienced; the behaviour – action at strategic, tactical and personal levels; and the context – sectoral, occupational, job and task levels …. (Chell, 2013, p. 8) One of the core functions of an entrepreneur is to generate employment and thereby promote economic development (van Praag & Versloot, 2008). While this is beneficial for the economy, this can have serious negative repercussions in terms of DW for the entrepreneur. Their role subsumes the challenges of selfemployment (Gorgievski & Stephan, 2016), alongside the responsibilities of ensuring employees’ job security. Entrepreneurs satisfy multiple roles, and this role ambiguity can lead to high stress (Cardon & Patel, 2015). Moreover, research shows that entrepreneurs struggle to maintain work-life balance due to the responsibility and demands of keeping the business afloat and securing the income sources (Schonfeld & Mazzola, 2015). Thereby, owner entrepreneurs have been found to suffer from significantly higher levels of stress compared to employees (Alstete, 2008; Cardon & Patel, 2015), leading to detrimental effects on their ¨ health (Hammen, 2005; Patzelt & Shepherd, 2011a) and well-being (Sorensson & Dalborg, 2017; Stephan, 2018) including depression (Hessels, Rietveld, Thurik, & Van der Zwan, 2018). Hence, in order to ensure and facilitate SME sustainability and DW for entrepreneurs and their employees, entrepreneurs would benefit from development of specific skills including stress resilience, emotional regulation and coping strategies (OECD, 2018; Uy, Foo, & Song, 2013). In order to sustain and expand their ventures, entrepreneurs can harness the benefits of ‘opportunity recognition’ (Chell, 2013; Hansen, Shrader, & Monllor, 2011; Hulbert, Gilmore, & Carson, 2015). This has also been related to positive entrepreneur well-being (Chen, Tseng, & Teng, 2019). Entrepreneurial opportunity recognition is related to learning skills (Corbett, 2007). Opportunity recognition arguably can entail both identifying and exploiting existing opportunities as well as the creation of novel opportunities (Chell, 2013; Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). These new opportunities include sustainable solutions developing new markets, processes and products (Patzelt & Shepherd, 2011b; Ploum, Blok, Lans, & Omta, 2018). Opportunity recognition can also focus on addressing social values and unmet social well-being needs due to market forces, through

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social entrepreneurship (Bradaˇc Hojnik & Crnogaj; Yitshaki & Kropp, 2016). Arguably, this makes a valuable contribution to DW. Furthermore, researchers emphasize the criticality of networking skills in ´ developing and growing entrepreneurial ventures (Dimitratos, Amoros, Etchebarne, & Felzensztein, 2014; Dufays & Huybrechts, 2014). Sarasvathy (2009) points out networking is key to opportunity creation which involves generating completely new opportunities, rather than spotting existing ones. Sarasvathy (2009) also advocates ‘effectuation’ in opportunity creation, with entrepreneurs engaging in a more collective and iterative process in networks, than was previously envisaged (Sarasvathy, 2009). Networking is also a critical skill for social entrepreneurship (Dufays & Huybrechts, 2014) where a social network emerges through shared needs and identity. Networking has also been reported to be linked to learning interactions of entrepreneurs, leading to innovations (Bhuian, Menguc, & Bell, 2005; Dimitratos et al., 2014). Networking helps entrepreneurs gather necessary market information steering innovations (Bucktowar, Kocak, & Padachi, 2015). Similarly, multi-stakeholder networks can further enhance innovation (OECD, 2019b). Learning to develop networking capabilities is also pertinent as simply access to networks is not sufficient; skilfully utilizing resources entrenched in networks, harnessing entrepreneurial opportunities (Adomako, Danso, Boso, & Narteh, 2018; Ebbers, 2014) and developing strategic alliances (OECD, 2010) are highly pertinent. Entrepreneurial networks provide peer learning environments and mutual support, which in turn can help foster well-being and DW for entrepreneurs. The OECD (2010, 2018) also emphasizes developing entrepreneurial skills in strategic thinking, adaptability to change and innovation, risk assessment and galvanizing others to achieve shared goals (OECD, 2010, 2018). Furthermore, the OECD (2019) highlights the importance of working in multi-stakeholder networks, social media networks and the international exchange of entrepreneurial ideas. International exposure to novel ideas helps develop entrepreneurship skills, both at the local and international level (Rodr´ıguez-Pose & Hardy, 2015). The intensification of global digitalization (cloud computing, Internet of things) also presents the need for entrepreneurs to develop advanced technological and digital skills to foster innovation, growth and enter new markets (OECD, 2017, 2019b). These skills are important for start-ups and to support SME owners and managers sustain and grow their ventures. Entrepreneurial educational attainment has been related to opportunity recognition abilities (Wen-Long, Liu, & Chiang, 2014) and risk-taking propensity (Ndofirepi, 2020). Enhanced knowledge and education is also related to entrepreneurial success (Singh & Gibbs, 2013) via improved mindsets and attitudes (Chang & Rieple, 2013), able to extrapolate ideas from new data. Strong cognitive skills, including literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills, are also considered highly beneficial for SME growth and managing changes due to expansion (OECD, 2015, 2019a). Furthermore, entrepreneurial education and training can equip entrepreneurs with resilience skills to overcome and address obstacles to the sustainability and growth of their ventures.


Sumona Mukhuty and Steve Johnson

Public Policy on Entrepreneurship Skills and Decent Work: Review and Recommendations Based on our review of the entrepreneurship skills literature, we argue that there is a clear rationale for public policy intervention, to ensure that entrepreneurs develop the skills associated with successfully growing businesses, that not only create jobs and wealth but are also resilient in crisis situations like Covid-19 (Bartik et al., 2020; Fabeil, Pazim, & Langgat, 2020; Kuckertz et al., 2020; Turner & Akinremi, 2020). Policy intervention is justified to ensure entrepreneurship skills are developed, which would not necessarily occur if the market were left to itself. Entrepreneurs typically have limited information about the availability of training, and there are significant externalities (i.e. benefits to a wider group beyond the participating individual or business) associated with state-subsidised or free entrepreneurial training initiatives. Scholars, practitioners and policymakers have for many years debated the effectiveness of such interventions, in relation to content, focus and pedagogy (Cooney, 2012; Gibb, 2002; Henry, Hill, & Leitch, 2005). We argue that consideration of DW principles can help us identify potential improvements in public policy. In relation to the theme of this book, it is reasonable to argue that businesses that survive and grow, and exhibit qualities of resilience, are especially likely to be able to provide DW. The converse is important: DW conditions are likely to engender commitment and flexibility on the part of employees, thereby increasing the potential for growth and the likelihood of successful joint solutions to firmlevel or wider problems. Moreover, we argue that the working conditions of the entrepreneurs themselves should be considered in the context of DW principles; for example work-life balance (Schonfeld & Mazzola, 2015) and mental health (Stephan, 2018) have been shown to be relevant to entrepreneurs as well as employees. These observations provide additional justification for the introduction of a revised portfolio of public policy initiatives to support skills development among entrepreneurs. Evaluation of public policy interventions around skills development for entrepreneurs suggests that they are likely to result in some – albeit often modest – improvements in business formation, survival and growth (Storey, 1994). In this section, we review a range of relevant policy initiatives and consider the implications for DW for entrepreneurs and their employees. Johnson et al. (2015) looked at selected entrepreneurship support initiatives and concluded that most initiatives to support entrepreneurs in developed economies tend to revolve around information signposting and financial support, with skills issues being less prominent in the thinking of policymakers. Furthermore, the skills development activities that were supported through policy tended not to address the issues of resilience and innovation that have been identified particularly in the recent literature on crisis management and Covid-19 (Turner & Akinremi, 2020). Skills provision for existing entrepreneurs – as opposed to potential or aspiring entrepreneurs – tends to take on the characteristics of management training, with emphasis on issues such as business planning, financial management, marketing, operational management and human resource

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management. Arguably, this has strong potential to bridge the gap in generating DW in terms of financial security, work-life balance and entrepreneur well-being (Dhondt et al., 2002; ILO, 2018; Stephan, 2018). Dedicated policies in Australia brought together under the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme (EIP) directly target entrepreneurs and their needs and look to provide simple and clear points of entry for its intended beneficiaries. The Programme offers differentiated levels of service, each with associated thresholds for the duration of support and grant finance available, dependent upon SME type or stage of development and their support requirements. The Business Management or Research Connections streams deliberately target larger and more established SMEs operating in key industry sectors (Australian Government, Department of Industry and Science, 2015). The United States has specific Government policy led and funded by the US Small Business Administration (SBA,, targeted at SME owners and entrepreneurs that seek to foster the development of entrepreneurship and associated skill sets. The United States provides a good example of how the promotion and support of leadership and entrepreneurship skills can be given greater prominence. The US Office for Entrepreneurship Education (OEE) is a dedicated national office and resource with the specific remit of assisting the skills development of entrepreneurs, which it deploys via a series of online toolkits and resources and targeted initiatives. The Emerging Leaders Executive-Level Development Programme ( underlines the importance of directly targeting SME skills development as a route to achieving business growth. It is targeted at established businesses with large turnover and growth potential. We argue that focussing on reducing high turnover and growing businesses can help the DW agenda of enhancing job security and work-life balance (ILO, 2008, 2018). Within the SBA, the OEE ( resources/2836) is a national office with a specific remit to assist the skills development of entrepreneurs via a series of toolkits, resources and initiatives. The Emerging Leaders Executive-Level Development Programme provided free to delegates is targeted at established businesses with large turnover and growth potential. Evaluation findings indicate positive results in terms of job creation, access to finance and securing of public sector contracts among 2,000 participating businesses. This demonstrates that targeted policy intervention can help sustainable job creation and contribute to DW in the economy (ILO, 2018). Canada has specific policy, led and funded by the Canadian Government, via the Industry Canada department, targeted at SME owners/entrepreneurs seeking to foster entrepreneurship and enterprise. The Canadian Business Network provides a single online point of contact and signposting for business support for SMEs. Futurpreneur Canada ( is a Canadian initiative, with a clear strategy of supporting youth entrepreneurship and young enterprise (for youth within 18–39 years) with demonstrable impact and results. Futurpreneur Canada focuses on providing mentoring, advice and funding support for aspiring youth entrepreneurs and thereby help them develop necessary


Sumona Mukhuty and Steve Johnson

entrepreneurial skill sets (Futurpreneur Canada, 2017, 2019). We argue that initiatives like this can equip aspiring entrepreneurs with opportunity recognition/ creation skills, job creation abilities and financial acumen, and consciously incorporate skills needed to maintain DW prerogatives like quality employment (Burchell et al., 2014; ILO, 2018). In 2020, in England, the Small Business Charter – a consortium of UK business schools – launched the Small Business Leadership Programme, designed to help businesses ‘survive and thrive beyond COVID’ ( small-business-leadership-programme/). The programme is to be delivered by small business experts within business schools, and the website emphasizes the need for businesses to develop resilience, strategic leadership and innovation in order to address the impact of Covid-19. To some extent, this new programme addresses some of the issues that we have highlighted in this chapter, notably the focus on resilience, innovation and employee development. Nonetheless, the core of the programme concentrates on standard business issues such as marketing, operational and financial management and action planning. Yet again, programmes like this can be designed to subsume skills helpful for the DW agenda (ILO, 2018). At the time of writing, the programme had not commenced delivery, so it is difficult to evaluate its success. However, the signs are encouraging that the Small Business Leadership Programme will help to address some of the gaps that we have identified in relation to skills development for entrepreneurs. A more explicit focus on DW, including direct engagement with employees, would go even further to helping entrepreneurs to meet the demands of the post-Covid-19 world. This final point is very important in the context of discussions regarding DW and the role of entrepreneurs in ensuring DW for themselves and their employees. The conventional approach to entrepreneurial skills training tends to focus on compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and responsibilities, for example, health and safety, minimum wages, holiday, maternity leave and other entitlements. While these factors are important, DW in SMEs requires, we argue, a more holistic perspective that focuses on the well-being of the entrepreneur and the employees, that understands the link between DW and business success and creates a culture in which flexible responses to crises are a joint responsibility which considers DW issues for entrepreneurs and their employees. This type of approach, we contend, is one in which entrepreneurial skills can be used for the common good, rather than focussing solely on the financial success of the entrepreneur and other stakeholders such as investors. It is our contention that current public policy approaches to entrepreneurial skills would benefit from an approach that foregrounds DW issues for entrepreneurs and their employees. We now go on to set out how this might be put into practice. Firstly, as outlined above, entrepreneurial skills training supported by public agencies should adopt a broad focus in terms of subject matter. It is not sufficient to ‘teach’ conventional management skills only. Greater attention needs to be paid to understanding and developing skills of resilience, innovation, crisis management and – importantly – collaborative working with employees and other stakeholders to ensure that DW is considered in all elements of the business

Entrepreneurship Skills Needs and Policies


leadership process. In doing so, public policy interventions will ensure that entrepreneurs receive a rounded training that embeds the principles of DW while helping entrepreneurs to ensure business survival and success to the benefit of all stakeholders. Secondly, there is an argument that publicly funded entrepreneurial skills programmes should change fundamentally their pedagogical approach, building on the evidence of Gibb (2002), Cooney (2012), Henry et al. (2005) and others. The adoption of a more experiential, interactive approach incorporating a dimension of peer rather than trainer driven learning will, we argue, enable issues of resilience, innovativeness and DW to be addressed more explicitly through skills development programmes. Thirdly, following on from the above, peer learning is crucial to the process by which entrepreneurs might understand how the adoption and implementation of DW principles can be complementary to, and indeed beneficial for, the continued survival and growth of their businesses. Indeed there is an argument for supporting learning processes that are purely peer driven, for example, the programmes run by Hull-based organization For Entrepreneurs Only (https://, in which members share and discuss their experiences openly within a collaborative network which explicitly eschews engagement with public funding or programmes. Fourthly, and perhaps even more radically, entrepreneurial skills programmes that incorporate the views and experiences of the businesses’ stakeholders – and especially their employees – have the potential to lead to active discussion of DW issues, how they interact with the performance of the business and the extent to which DW is important to all stakeholders of the business, including the entrepreneur. Fifthly, the approaches to entrepreneurial skills development advocated here, and where operated effectively, are likely to encourage open discussion of work-life balance, stress and mental health issues for both entrepreneurs and employees. The Covid-19 crisis provides a basis upon which these issues might be discussed openly. This should lead to mutual understanding of how these issues affect the different groups, together with discussions on how they address them, including through adoption of DW principles. Greater consideration of social responsibility and sustainability issues, in ways that are not common within such programmes, will also help to surface such issues and how they might be incorporated into effective entrepreneurial practice. In conclusion, we have argued for consideration of DW as an integral component of the entrepreneurial skills development process, and we have suggested that the DW concept is relevant to both entrepreneurs and employees. We have reviewed the entrepreneurial skills literature and examined a selection of public policy initiatives designed to improve the level of skills among entrepreneurs. We have observed that many of these programmes are narrow in terms of focus and pedagogy, resulting in a neglect of key entrepreneurial skills such as resilience and innovation. In turn, the implementation of DW principles is not prominent in current policy approaches, and we have advocated a number of changes – not all of which directly involve public agencies – that, we argue, will improve the survivability, growth and resilience of small businesses, partly as a result of the consequent adoption of DW principles.


Sumona Mukhuty and Steve Johnson

Lessons Learnt and Conclusion Our review of literature policies and in relation to entrepreneurial skills has demonstrated a degree of inconsistency between research findings and the policies developed and implemented by national governments. The research emphasizes the need for flexibility in delivery and co-learning between peers and stakeholders. Entrepreneurial education and networking contributes significantly to opportunity identification and creation, SME growth and resilience support. DW principles are not commonly cited in the entrepreneurship skills literature, but our analysis suggests that adoption of these principles would be valuable, especially in addressing the need for resilience and innovation in the face of crises. While there are some examples of emerging practice – such as the US Emerging Leaders development programme and the embryonic Small Business Leadership Programme in England – much public policy tends to concentrate on teaching relatively standard business planning and related skills rather than facilitating learning of a wider range of skills, including those associated with DW. However, we recommend that focussing on these skills will support business growth as well as DW. Appropriate policy intervention for entrepreneurship development provides a valuable opportunity for progressing the DW agenda.

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Part 3 Atypical Jobs: A Challenge to Decent Work

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Chapter 8

Indecent Work? The Rise of Digital Platform Work in France and the United Kingdom Christina Purcell and Reece Garcia

Abstract The digital platform economy has wide-ranging implications for the nature of work in the twenty-first century. The ease at which suppliers and demanders of labour come together across digital platforms creates a very new kind of labour market characterized by hyper-flexibility and an ambiguous employment relationship. Platform work has been hailed as providing employment opportunities for young people entering the labour market and other groups for whom access to more traditional forms of work is compromised (e.g. women with caring responsibilities or people with chronic health issues), or simply those seeking easily accessible, flexible work (e.g. students). On the other hand, unions and grassroots activist campaigners have highlighted the poor conditions that shape the experience of platform work, such as low pay, lack of choice over working time, tight control over the labour process and a dependency on platforms that belies their self-employed status. These dimensions of decent work are examined in the context of France and the United Kingdom, two countries which represent very different employment contexts (Milner, 2015), and thus provide insights into how specific country contexts may mediate the experience of platform work and the policy response. Keywords: Decent work; gig economy; France; United Kingdom; platform work; public policy Although those working via online platforms represent a small proportion of the labour force, the dramatic increase in platform work indicates the growing importance of this type of work, posing significant challenges for policymakers,

Decent Work, 99–112 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211008


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labour scholars and other stakeholders concerned with labour rights and conditions of work. The platform economy encompasses a broad range of activities, the implications of which are wide and varied. With regards to work and employment, those platforms whose business model rests on being an intermediary between the demand and supply of labour are of particular concern. Such platforms differ along several dimensions: the way in which platforms coordinate the relationship between worker and service user, the skill/qualification levels required, whether the work is executed online or on location and the nature of the labour process (project versus task fragmentation). Viossat (2019) identifies four types of platform: (1) ‘Centralized’ platforms control the price and services carried out by workers, work is ‘low-skilled’ and geographically delineated according to zones (e.g. Uber, Deliveroo); (2) Micro-work platforms connect companies with workers who carry out repetitive, small tasks online, such as data entry and image tagging for very low pay (e.g. Foule Factory, Amazon Turk); (3) Freelancing platforms connect clients with high-skilled professionals, such as software developers and graphic designers (e.g. Malt, Upwork); (4) Platforms connecting individuals/households with local workers offering onlocation domestic services such as babysitting, small scale domestic building decoration or repair works and cleaning (e.g. TaskRabbit). Whilst exposure to global markets has implications for earnings and access to regular work (Wood, Graham, Lehdonvirta, & Hjorth, 2019), freelancing platforms are technologically enhanced versions of traditional consultancy and freelancing. Centralized and micro-work platforms, on the other hand, operating through a ‘hyper-outsourcing’ of labour (Srnicek, 2017) have more profound implications for work since they represent both a deepening of trends in employment towards greater flexibility and a radical transformation in the way in which work is organized. The ease with which the demand side can access labour without any of the obligations of an employment contract, the unprecedented control over labour and the unilateral setting of pay are interrelated dimensions of this type of platform work which signify a shifting of power away from labour to capital. One-off jobs or ‘gigs’ are not a new phenomenon – indeed the similarities with ‘putting out’ and piecework in days bygone have been highlighted (e.g. Srnicek, 2017) – however, these contemporary forms of gig work undermine standard employment relationships and alter the nature of the labour process. The fragmentation of jobs into discrete tasks, elements of which can be auctioned off to the lowest bidder, as is the case with micro-work, represents a ‘radical deepening’ of the division of labour – typical of Taylorism and Fordism (Pesole, Urz´ıBrancati, Fern´andez-Mac´ıas, Biagi, & Gonz´alezV´azquez, 2018), whilst the ability to locate millions of labour providers broadens the geographical boundaries of labour markets. Thus, the very foundation of the labour market is called into question (Semenza & Mori, 2019), as workers compete globally in a ‘race to the bottom’ on wages and performance expectations, thus undermining key dimensions of decent work.

Indecent Work? The Rise of Digital Platform Work in France


Mapping Platform Work in France and the United Kingdom Establishing reliable data on platform work is difficult. Existing tools for measuring labour market statistics do not capture platform work as a specific form of work due to classification issues and the reluctance of platforms to provide data. The highly flexible nature of work also presents challenges for capturing platform work. Some workers access online work very sporadically, supplementing other primary sources of income, whilst for others platform work is a main source of income. However, survey data have provided some indication of the growth of platform work. Huws, Spencer, Coates, and Holts (2019), comparing the results of two representative surveys of workers in the United Kingdom, found that the percentage of respondents working via online platforms at least once a week had doubled from 4.7% in 2016 to 9.6% in 2019, with one in seven undertaking this form of work at least once in 2019. In France, official reports have drawn on proxy data as an indicator of platform work. For example, the growth in the number of non-taxi passenger vehicles registered suggests that ride-hailing platform workers have increased from 16,000 in 2016 to over 43,000 in 2017 (Babet, 2019). Another indicator is the dramatic increase in the number of ‘micro-entrepreneurs’ registered in the transport sector; 78,000 in 2018, up by 80.6% from 2017 figures (Forissier, Fournier, & Puissat, 2020). Survey research has shed light on other forms of platform work with a recent study estimating that 260,000 people (less than 1% of the labour force) perform micro-work ‘at least occasionally’ (Casilli et al., 2019). Methodologically robust comparative data are limited. However, the European Commission’s Collaborative Economy and Employment (COLLEEM) study provides some indication of country variation. The study surveyed Internet users (aged 16–74) in 14 European countries. Table 8.1 presents a snapshot of the data. On all measures (percentage of the adult population, frequency, weekly hours and proportion of income), the United Kingdom comes out as having the highest penetration of platform work, with France at the lower end. Across countries, the typical platform worker is a ‘young’ male, educated to degree level (Pesole et al., 2018), somewhat challenging the idea that flexibility provided by platforms facilitates the labour market participation of marginalized groups. The demographic profile of platform workers, however, varies depending on the type of work and sector. Within the main French micro-work platform, Foule Factory, women appear to be marginally over-represented (56%), whilst in the transport sector, male migrant workers are more prevalent, with some evidence that this work facilitates the labour market insertion of migrants. Indeed, platform work has been shown to provide opportunities to those facing barriers to accessing more standard forms of employment due to discrimination (Peticca-Harris, de Gama, & Ravishankar, 2018). In both countries, on-location and online work are prevalent, encompassing all levels of skill (Eurofound, 2018). In the United Kingdom, providing courier services via apps such as CitySprint is the most common type of platform work, accounting for 42% of platform work in the prior 12 months. This is followed by short-term, often one-off tasks across freelancing platforms (e.g. Upwork and PeoplePerHour) and micro-work platforms (e.g. TaskRabbit), equating to 37% of


Christina Purcell and Reece Garcia

Table 8.1. Platform Workers in Selected European Countries. Platform % of Adult Workers as Population % of Adult Working Population via a (16–74) Platform at Least Monthly

UK France Spain Germany Netherlands Italy Portugal

12% 7% 11.6% 10.4% 9.7% 8.9% 10.6%

9.9% 5.9% 9.4% 8.1% 8.7% 7.1% 7.1%

% of Adult Population Working at Least 10 Hours per Week via a Platform

% of Adult Population Earning at Least 25% of Income via a Platform

% of Adult Population Earning at Least 50% of Income via a Platform

6.7 4.2 6.6 6.4 5.4 5.4 6.0

8.5 4.8 6.1 6.5 6.5 5.4 4.2

4.3 1.8 2.0 2.5 2.9 1.8 1.6

Source: COLLEEM Survey. Adapted from Pesole et al. (2018).

platform work. The third most common type of platform work in the United Kingdom is the provision of transport services using a personally owned vehicle, which accounted for over a quarter of platform work, and finally food delivery services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats accounting for 21% (Lepanjuuri, Wishart, & Cornick, 2018). Huw’s et al. (2019) cross-national study suggests that in France online work is in the most common form of platform work followed by household services and then taxi/delivery services.

The Quandary of Platform Worker Classification The classification of platform workers is a key issue in both countries, given the importance of employment status in determining access to employment rights and social benefits. In France, this has been more comprehensively discussed by policymakers. French labour law is codified according to unambiguous criteria regarding employment status, with two categories of economic activity: employee (salari´e) and independent worker (travailleur ind´ependant). The status of independent worker traditionally captures a wide variety of occupations from professional freelancers to performance artists. In 2009, the government introduced a new classification ‘auto-entrepreneur’ (‘micro-entrepreneur’ as of 2014) to simplify tax and accounting rules for independent workers. Although most platform workers register as micro-entrepreneurs (Eurofound, 2018, p. 49), it is acknowledged that some types of platform work do not sit easily within this category, since the nature of their work blurs the key distinction between a salari´e and non-salari´e. This is based upon whether or not there is a relation of subordination between an employer and an employee i.e. whether work is executed under the authority of an

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employer who: (1) gives orders and directives, (2) controls the execution of the work and (3) sanctions shortcomings. A new status centred around the idea of an autonomous employee was briefly discussed amongst policymakers. However, there was little support for this. Instead, policy has focused on adapting existing taxation and social security models to cover activities and relationships that exist within platform work. In addition, a new status, the entrepreneur-´etudiant, has been created allowing students to register ‘entrepreneurial’ activity, such as platform work, whilst maintaining their student status – a change that aims to capture more fluid, professional trajectories. Despite these changes, social security and insurance regimes for independent workers remain considerably less generous relative to the core regime reserved for salari´es, and, therefore, do little to reduce the risk associated with platform work. French employment policy has long been guided by the concept of flexicurity which views flexible forms of employment as a solution to unemployment, particularly in relation to the integration of youth into the labour market, whilst acknowledging the need to address the precarious nature of flexible work. Government reports have stressed the need for careful approaches to regulation that do not hinder innovation in the platform economy (Ilaria et al., 2016). At the same time, there has been an acknowledgement that many platform workers are in a relation of economic dependence with platforms (Forissier et al., 2020), necessitating government intervention to extend social protection, address non-linear and unstable career paths and provide more bargaining power for platform workers (Amar & Viossat, 2016). The challenge has been to address worker vulnerability without undermining labour market flexibility, hence the reluctance to recast platform workers as employees (Daugareil et al., 2019), with the focus instead on improving social protection for those formally outside the employment relationship. Alongside this, platforms have been encouraged to draw up social responsibility charters that offer additional rights to workers as a trade-off in order to avoid the reclassification of their workforce as employees (OECD, 2019a). In UK employment law, there is a key distinction between ‘employee’, ‘worker’ and ‘self-employed’ status which also determines the employment rights that workers are entitled to. With much lower levels of state intervention than France, the classification of those undertaking platform works in the United Kingdom has largely been left to employment tribunal rulings, with mixed results. Judgements rest upon two key elements: (1) how the particular platform operates and (2) the degree of autonomy exercised by its associated platform workers (Todoli-Signes, 2017). Regarding the former, if the company owning the platform is considered to be a technological company whose function is purely to provide data that facilitate the matching of (labour) supply with (consumer) demand, it is difficult to establish an employer–employee relationship between the platform and a worker using said platform. As such, the platform and, thus, the company would be under no legal obligation to comply with many basic employment rights, such as the UK National Minimum Wage, statutory annual leave entitlement and protections (not least from dismissal) as the worker is classified as ‘self-employed’. However, many platform companies go beyond simply matching supply with demand, actively requiring certain behaviours from platform workers


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in order to control the quality of their work. Such interventions in how work is undertaken was central to the employment tribunal ruling in favour of Uber drivers in 2016 (and subsequent appeals by Uber) that they had been mis-classified as self-employed and are indeed ‘workers’, ensuring their entitlement to a range of employment rights and protections previously withheld. This links to the second point above, whereby platforms allowing platform workers to choose their own working hours and schedules, and owning the tools needed for their work indicates a large degree of autonomy befitting a self-employed categorization. However, there is an important distinction to be made between how much control a platform exercises and how much control a platform retains the right to exercise (Sprage, 2015). In situations where platform workers do have a relatively high degree of autonomy yet are required to obey new instructions – such as changes in predetermined rates of pay or clothing requirements – platform work does resemble elements of conventional employment.

Dimensions of Decent Work: Low Pay and Long Hours Working conditions of platform workers are not well-documented beyond anecdotal evidence in the press or from trade unions and other advocacy groups. However, research is beginning to shed more light on the experience of platform work. Two key concerns that emerge are income and working hours (Akguc, 2018; Lepanjuuri et al., 2018). In the United Kingdom, 25% of respondents in a government study reported that their hourly income was less than the minimum wage, and 87% earned less than £10,000 over the course of the previous 12 months (Lepanjuuri et al., 2018). It is unsurprising, therefore, that gig workers, many of whom work in the platform economy, are likely to describe themselves as ‘just about managing financially’ (CIPD, 2017). Some platforms seek to draw workers in by offering ‘good’ deals only to change pay and conditions once their market is established. As one courier in the United Kingdom explained, In the beginning, Uber paid £10 to get all the Deliveroo riders to quit their jobs. So everyone was moving. Then they get you hooked on, and they dropped it right down to £3.50 a delivery. (Doteveryone, 2020) Similarly in France, the average monthly income of micro-entrepreneurs – €470 in 2017 – suggests that many platform workers are affected by low income (Salambier & Th´eron, 2020), with the variable nature of the work making it difficult to make a reasonable living (Rapoport, 2017). For online platform workers, the need to compete with others can drive down pay, which may compel workers to work dangerously long hours (Amar & Viossat, 2016). A significant minority – 22% – in Caselli et al.’s (2019) study of online platform workers were living below the poverty threshold. For those who combine platform work with full-time salaried employment, the opportunity to augment household income may be welcomed. However, this brings with it negative consequences associated

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with long working hours, such as the ‘triple shift’ for women carrying out salaried work, domestic labour and online platform work (Caselli et al., 2019).

Dimensions of Decent Work: Lack of Opportunities for Training and Development In both countries, there are few opportunities for learning and development since platform companies have little incentive to provide training. Registration and onboarding processes are based upon the notion that anyone who wants to do the job is sufficiently trained and ready to work. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the United Kingdom, 35% of gig workers feel that their employer or digital platform would not invest in their professional development (CIPD, 2017). Development in the traditional sense is non-existent in that algorithmic performance management does not lend itself to constructive feedback or platform-led development plans. The onus is on the worker to improve according to criteria unilaterally imposed by the platform or face sanctions (Wood et al., 2019). For online platform work, be it micro-tasking or project-based work, the business model rests on outsourcing training and development to the worker. If skills need updating to respond to client demand, this is carried out in the worker’s own time. The Taylor Review to the UK government noted that whilst work has become more flexible, training and skills policies have not kept pace with increases in flexibility (Taylor, 2017). However, little has been done to address this. In France, on the other hand, the 2016 El Khomri law contained a stipulation that where platforms determine the characteristics of the service provided, they must reimburse workers for fees paid to validate acquired experience and provide a training indemnity for all platform workers earning above a certain revenue (Donini, Forlivesi, Rota, & Tullini, 2017). In addition, Individualized Learning Accounts (ILAs) provide workers with resources to take up further training, as part of a general move to attach rights to individuals rather than jobs. The scheme accompanies the individual throughout their working life, including during periods of unemployment. As of 2018, platforms have to contribute to ILAs when workers earn at least half of the minimum wage per month (OECD, 2019b).

Dimensions of Decent Work: Autonomy, Control and Voice Many forms of platform work represent a continuation of technological developments that have long fragmented work into a series of simplified, repetitive tasks, in this instance workers interacting with a series of prompts via the application that they may simply accept or reject. Opportunities for discretion and autonomy, or indeed to feed ideas into this work activity are limited by ‘algorithmic restricting’ (Kellogg, Valentine, & Christin, 2020) whereby workers receive limited information. This is compounded by the fact that the bulk of workers’ interactions are mediated by the faceless application. The algorithmic ‘black box’ not only operates beyond worker scrutiny but is also composed of self-learning algorithms continually making decisions unilaterally, leaving little scope for worker input. Combined


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with other features of the work – workers operating remotely, de-humanized, generic automated support from ‘chatbots’ and frequently asked question (FAQ) webpages – there is a lack of nuance and context to adequately address workers’ needs. UK research has highlighted how platform workers who are perceived to complain or ask too many questions are often subject to punitive measures, with some reporting that they were simply no longer given work (Doteveryone, 2020). These restrictive features of platform work limit worker discretion over their work and their ability to extract more from the wage-effort bargain, particularly as remuneration is often determined by inaccessible, constantly changing algorithmic formulations (Veen et al., 2019). Applications like Uber also use ‘economic nudges’ such as surge pricing to extend their control over the timing and location of supposedly flexible working practices (Gandini, 2018), again constraining the ability of workers to have any meaningful input into how their work is carried out. Whilst this is common across countries given the business model of platforms like Uber, in France, legislation has begun to address some of these issues by obliging platforms to provide more information (e.g. distance to pick-ups). Lack of transparency, however, pervades platform work. Workers performing micro-tasks are often unaware of the identity of clients or of the purpose of the tasks carried out, thus further undermining their sense of involvement in their work and creating unease around values and ethics (Caselli et al., 2019).

Dimensions of Decent Work: Representation and Organization Platform work presents a number of obstacles in relation to worker representation and organization. Platforms establish highly individualized employment relationships whereby platform workers are typically in direct competition with one another for access to tasks, which complicates the collective organization of platform workers. The heterogenous nature of platform workers also hinders organization. Those who take on platform work to supplement other income may have a positive view of the business models of platform owners, whilst the importance accorded to flexibility in attracting workers to this form of work can undermine attempts to mobilize around employment status. Thus, platform workers hold diverse views on unions and the need to mobilize collectively (Newlands, Lutz, & Fieseler, 2018). Furthermore, the spatial dispersal of platform work, often undertaken in isolation, across non-standard hours, and contact solely with the consumer, creates challenges for developing social networks amongst platform workers. Both of these factors reduce the ability of workers, and entities interested in representing them, to foster a sense of unity and collectivism (Prassl, 2018), with collective interests central to conceptions of solidarity (e.g. D’Art & Turner, 2002) and worker mobilization (Kelly, 1998). Despite these barriers, unions have enjoyed some degree of success in the use of traditional renewal strategies, such as the servicing model, best illustrated in the GMB union’s representation of Uber drivers at the landmark 2016 ruling at the Central London Employment Tribunal. In France, the three main union confederations – Conf´ed´eration G´en´erale du Travail (CGT), Force Ouvri`ere (FO), Conf´ed´eration Française D´emocratique du Travail (CFDT) – have all set up

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dedicated unions for platform workers. The CGT focuses on reclassifying the status of platforms worker and obtaining better pay and working conditions. FO takes a similar approach, whilst the CFDT adopts a more service union approach, providing information and administrative support, alongside lobbying government to improving the social protection of self-employed workers. The establishment of ‘new’ grassroots-led trade unions, such as the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) in 2012, the United Voices of the World (UVW) in 2014 and the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU) in 2016 also demonstrates that platform workers can effectively organize outside of traditional union structures. This is particularly true in situations where platform companies actively avoid engagement with traditional trade unions – notably the recruitment of Deliveroo couriers to both the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and IWGB. Deliveroo couriers organized a ‘wildcat’ strike and demonstrated outside the company’s London Head Office in August 2016 after being informed that pay rates would be decreased. The demonstrations were successful in preserving previous pay terms, and the IWGB has continued to collectively organize Deliveroo riders using a range of methods, particularly social media, drawing upon strategies and tactics of community unionism developed around living wage campaigns over the last decade. In France, the Collective des livreurs autonomes de Paris (CLAP), an autonomous collective for delivery riders, mobilized workers to take strike action for fixed pay for a guaranteed number of hours worked per rider. In both countries, Uber drivers have established their own forms of organization, with the French organization (SPVTC) being more successful in getting Uber to the negotiating table, albeit with help from the French government. The El Khomri law promoted the collective organization of platform workers, making explicit reference to the right of platform workers to refuse work in defence of collective interests, a move which reflects the government’s acknowledgement of the economic dependency of platform workers on platform. Despite successes, the geographically dispersed nature of the work negates traditional union organizing structures that rely on a fixed workplace, shop stewards and so forth, but there are numerous strategies to circumnavigate such issues. For those undertaking work via centralized platforms (Viossat, 2019), workers (and trade union representatives) can take advantage of ‘common’ waiting points; for example, for those providing transportation or courier services, this could be in central locations and/or outside busy restaurants, leisure and entertainment venues to share experiences. Articulating shared grievances, exchanging contact details and consolidating social ties is central to the formation of demands and subsequent ‘action’ to improve working terms and conditions (Tassinari & Maccarrone, 2020). Likewise, the same technology facilitating the growth of platform work provides new ways for workers to form digital communities, including internationally (Maffie, 2020). This extends to freelancing platforms, for example, Upwork users were found to develop ‘algorithmic competencies’ (Jarrahi & Sutherland, 2019) by collectively generating a more comprehensive understanding of the algorithms, and tactics to circumvent them, via online forums. Apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook


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enable platform workers to share humour, dissent and tips for success on their respective platforms, simultaneously generating a shared sense of collectivism (e.g. Reid-Musson, MacEachen, & Bartel, 2020). Given that management is typically obfuscated by, and behind, the algorithms of many platforms, such socialization and potential organization can occur on these virtual spaces relatively unabated.

Conclusion In France and the United Kingdom, the emergence of platform work has led to similar debates around the classification of platforms workers and their conditions of work, with more visible on-location platform workers being the focus of debate. Government responses have been influenced not only by industrial relations and regulatory contexts but also by the ideological outlook of successive governments. In France, there has been a more concerted effort to respond to the challenges thrown up by platform work with government departments contributing to numerous policy papers. France is notable for explicitly intervening in the regulation of platforms and encouraging some change in the way platforms operate. Whilst in both countries legal challenges to the classification of platform workers have been mounted by workers themselves, often supported by trade unions, in France the labour inspectorate has also initiated administrative proceedings against the classification of workers as self-employed. On the other hand, Emmanuel Macron’s centre-right government, in power since 2017, has unambiguously affirmed its commitment to ‘modernizing’ the labour market. This vision is realized via a socio-political and institutional setting in which the collective rights and protections carry more weight than in the United Kingdom. Thus, French legislation aims to institutionalize and embed labour market flexibility by responding to concerns over social protection. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, ruled since 2010 by a Conservative government ideologically attached to an unfettered deregulated labour market, has, so far, had a more ‘hands-off’ approach to platform work, with the exception of Transport for London, under the control of a Labour mayor, who revoked Uber’s licence to operate in the capital after a series of safety breaches. It is striking that, in the United Kingdom, there have been few government commissioned responses to platform work beyond the Taylor Review on contemporary employment and little in the way of legislative response. To what extent, do these different approaches lead to different outcomes for platform workers? French legislation facilitating access to social security provides some safety net, yet it is still quite limited in scope compared with those classified as employees. It is too early to gauge the effects of access to training and development. In both countries, platform work, in all its forms, continues to grow with less visible online platform work continuing to be something of a ‘black box’. Platform work is not so much constrained in a national setting such as France, but rather the French response contributes to and shapes its development (Pilaar, 2019), so that the common liberalizing pressures that are observed across countries are channelled and expressed differently (Thelen,

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2014). The negative consequences for the lives of workers lacking in basic dimensions of decent work persist on both sides of the channel. In responding to the challenges posed by platform work, it is necessary to acknowledge that many workers appreciate the flexibility and perceived autonomy of platform work (Caselli et al., 2019; CIPD, 2017). Furthermore, the desire to be an ‘independent worker’ rather than an employee calibrates with findings across a number of countries that point to a strong desire to be free of the ‘boss’ as a big pull factor in choosing platform work (Jamil & Noiseux, 2018; Vaclavik & Pithan, 2018). Yet, this needs to be understood in the context of deteriorating conditions within standard employment. Moreover, the numbers of platform workers with other full-time work is indicative of the financial strain many households face due to the increasing inability to ‘get by’ on one job (Huws et al., 2019). Ensuring decent work in traditional employment settings would, therefore, be a good basis from which to tackle platform work. Nonetheless, some workers will continue to be attracted to the flexibility and perceived autonomy of platform work, necessitating a range of measures to combat the negative aspects of this work. Mapping out policy recommendations for decent platform work is undoubtedly a complex task and one outside of the scope of this chapter. However, it is possible to summarize key issues that social partners and, significantly, platform workers themselves must address to transform platform work into decent work. First, there is the issue of ambiguity around the contractual status of platform workers. Clarifying the status of workers where platforms set pay and conditions would immediately open the door to statutory minimum wages and other rights such as holiday and sick pay. More ambiguous, hybrid relationships between workers and platforms may require an additional category reflecting the autonomous but dependent nature of the work, establishing a range of responsibilities on the part of platforms. For those platform workers who continue to be classified as self-employed, there is an urgent need to update social systems to reflect changing forms of work. France has gone some way in this direction, but not enough to ensure an equitable and comprehensive safety net. There is also a need to extend mechanisms of collective negotiation to a broader range of workers by, for example, putting in place regulation aimed at overcoming the rigid dichotomy between employees and independent workers/self-employed (ETUI, 2017), and exempting platform workers from competition laws. Donini et al. (2017) make the point that there is already scope for this in the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling on collective bargaining and trade union action for ‘non-subordinate work’ in situations where contractual weakness undermines the providers selfdetermination, and the French Competition Authority. The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), of course, no longer applies to the United Kingdom; however, the ruling can be used as an example of how collective bargaining can be extended. Regulating the sector to improve transparency would provide workers with information relevant to their working lives. It has been suggested that General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations be evoked to allow workers access to their personal data, force platforms to make clear reasons for algorithmic decisions that adversely affect individual workers and provide workers


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with the means to contest decisions (Silberman & Johnston, 2020). The ready availability of platform data has the potential of improving working conditions and enforcing labour law, on condition that data are made available to workers, union and labour inspectorate systems (Huws, 2016). Codes of conduct and social responsibility also have a role to play, alongside regulation, in signalling to workers and customers/clients good and bad practice. There are, of course, numerous other issues affecting working lives and career trajectories of platform workers, for example, training and development, how to capture and translate experience gained for other work settings, access to more humane and responsive human resource systems, etc. In order to begin addressing these issues, platform workers must be given a voice. The steps taken by unions to organize platform workers and the emergence of grassroots unions are positive moves in this direction, as are various initiatives bringing workers’ voices to the bargaining table, for example, Union Network International (UNI’s) Danish affiliate 3F working with the platform company Hilfr. Translating such successes into different national contexts is not without its challenges; however, such examples demonstrate that core principles underpinning decent work can be extended to platform work. In France, initiatives around platform work have been in large part driven by a government cautious about hindering the growth of a flexible labour market whilst in the United Kingdom, little more than lip service has been paid to the plight of platform workers. In both countries, the mobilization of platform workers will be crucial to ensuring decent work.

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Chapter 9

Musicians’ Work: Creativity, Community and Insecurity Jason Woolley and Fiona Christie

Abstract This chapter examines the evolving nature of work patterns and income streams for contemporary Musicians in the United Kingdom. It explores the experiences of independent, portfolio career Musicians working in the Rock/ Pop/Indie/Jazz Live Music scene. The Music industry is reported to contribute £5.2bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy, of which according to UK Music (2019) £2.5bn is generated by ‘Creative Sector’ workers, which includes performing Musicians. Despite these high revenues, UK Music (2019) consistently reports that many Musicians earn below the average working wage of other professions. Challenges to Musicians’ work and income streams have been compounded by changes in consumption of Music due to digitization, a lack of systematic support from government for grassroots venues and unequal revenue distribution. In this context, we reveal findings from research interviews with Musicians, which were conducted just before and during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic (mainly in the North of England and Wales). Our research discovers how these Musicians utilize informal community mechanisms to navigate poor working conditions, value ‘dignity’ and ‘meaningfulness’ above remuneration and often default to individualist assumptions regarding career success. Keywords: Musician; decent work; self-employment; meaning of work; creative industry; trade union; gig economy

Introduction As authors, our initial interest in undertaking the research for this chapter was a curiosity about Musicians’ relationship to the gig economy. The term ‘gig’ is believed to be derived from the word ‘gigue’ (an Italian dance), and for Musicians, gig has been embedded in popular language (long before the advent of the Decent Work, 113–128 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211009


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modern gig economy) to refer to a one-time contractual engagement such as a one-off paid Musical performance. There is not a clear consensus about definitions of the gig economy. In a recent government report, the ‘gig economy’ was defined as the ‘exchange of labour for money between individuals or companies via digital platforms… on a short term payment by tasks basis’ (BEIS, 2018, p. 4). However, definitions elsewhere can be more generic including other types of casualized work. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has used a wider description: ‘a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs’ (Wilson, 2017). Work for many performing Musicians shares such insecurity, and our research discovers how Musicians navigate such working lives, how they secure work, what Musical work they will or will not engage with, how they benchmark the terms and conditions of the work they accept and what they consider to be Decent Work. We also wanted to consider if and to what extent, the original ‘gig’ workers may identify themselves and/or become more clearly identifiable members of the modern gig economy? The research project participants were from a wide range of Musical genres, and our study included Musicians who were vocalists and instrumentalists performing professionally at public venues before the Covid-19 emergency. Beyond our interest in Musicians and the gig economy, we also wanted to use the lens of Decent Work to illuminate the nature of Musicians’ working lives, as we were aware that both the Musicians Union (MU) and UK Music consistently highlight challenges to conditions of work that are prevalent in the Music business. The MU has sought to establish benchmarks for fair pay for Musical work including gig rate advice. The MU’s ‘Work Not Play’ campaign is aimed at both Musicians and those that offer performance opportunities, such as promoters. The MU has identified providers, including the London 2012 Olympics, who they argue have exploited Musicians to work for low pay and the promise of greater exposure. They express considerable concern about the ‘growing trend of professional Musicians not being paid for their work’ (Musicians Union, 2020c). Although the MU actively discourages them from doing so, Musicians often have little choice but to accept low pay (even no pay) and reduced conditions in the hope of this leading to better quality work. Their working choices cannot be depicted as convenient and flexible, as some propose is the appeal of general gig economy work. The level of commitment needed to accrue Musical skills means that becoming a Musician is often an ‘active career choice’. It is hard to imagine a Uber driver working for free as a means of gaining greater exposure. Within the Creative Industries, it is not only Musicians who experience insecurity of working conditions. Although this study contributes to literature about this occupational group, we believe our chapter adds to debates about Creative Industry workers, especially those in the wider Performing Arts. Through thematic analysis of data collected via research interviews, we extend understandings of the lived human experience behind some of the numbers and challenges reported upon by UK Music (2018, 2019) and the MU (2020b, 2020c). In doing so, it will be possible to understand more about how Musicians make sense of working conditions, which raises concerns for us as authors about Decent Work.

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Musicians’ Work The Music by Numbers report (UK Music, 2019) categorizes Music Performers within the ‘Music Creators’ sector which also includes other practitioners such as composers and producers. As successive reports have highlighted (UK Music, 2018, 2019), on average many Music Creators earn significantly less than other professions. A continuing theme is the remuneration gap between earners in the Music industry: ‘A small proportion of creators in the industry do earn exceptionally well’, but regardless of the headline figure for the Music Industry’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), ‘…these figures do not reflect the financial struggles of many Music creators’ (UK Music, 2019). For example, it has recently been widely reported that Dua Lipa amassed earnings of £25 million in 2019 (Bullock, 2020), whereas the average Music Creator’s annual wage in 2019 was £23,059.1 According to UK Music (2019, p. 11): ‘many Music creators still find it hard to sustain a full-time career. This has resulted in a workforce where many juggle multiple roles within the industry’. They go on to report that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has calculated that 72% of workers in the Music, Performing and Visual Arts are self-employed, which contrasts with Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures of 15% across the whole UK working population. This is a remarkable contrast, and as Haynes and Marshall (2018) suggest, whilst self-employed creative industries workers are often ‘associated’ with autonomous and creatively fulfilling working lives, they also often face job insecurity and financial instability, which leads them to draw upon multiple income streams. Musicians are beginning to secure work through platforms and websites, but the development of this appears patchy. Alongside subscription-based ‘notice board’ and community platforms like, there are some emerging app and Web-based platforms such as San Diego start-up ‘GigTown’, Boston-based ‘Groupmuse’, UK-based ‘Encore Musicians’ and also the Australian-based ‘’ and ‘’. We wanted to find out to what extent such platform approaches to work had encroached upon established Musicians’ working lives. Musicians’ activities do align with the more highly skilled subcategories of gig work definitions in that they deliver ‘high-skill creative … tasks’, with a delivery method which is usually more akin to ‘manual service work… that is carried out on a customer’s premises’, rather than delivered ‘electronically from anywhere’ (Huws, Spencer, & Joyce, 2016, p. i). Websites and platforms for Musicians’ work are similar to platforms for the highly skilled such as Upwork and Malt rather than Uber or Deliveroo.

Musicians and Decent Work The International Labour Organization (ILO) has been championing Decent Work as an instrument of international public policy for two decades with variable success. The concept is recognized widely and is now one of the United Nation’s (UN’s) 2030 Sustainability Goals. A recent Global Commission on


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Work has renewed the debate with calls for urgent action and practical recommendations (ILO, 2019). Arguably, this international movement has influenced national policy to improve working conditions, e.g., in the United Kingdom, central government has commissioned work to explore the concept of ‘Good Work’ (Carnegie UK Trust & RSA, 2018; Taylor, Marsh, Nicol, & Broadbent, 2017, p. 11). Political leaders in the United Kingdom have stated their commitment to improve worker conditions especially for those in what is described as atypical work, e.g, in the more recent evolution of the platform-based gig economy as well as more established atypical workers such as freelancers, although legislation has not yet been enacted. Many Musicians who are self-employed can be broadly categorized as being in atypical work, and their working lives bring alive discussion points of relevance to Decent Work. Similar to other industries, trade union membership is relatively small and only a small proportion of Musicians are members of the MU. Industrial relations writing about musicians have highlighted the tension between trade union membership and ‘meaning of work’ issues as musicians often reject the idea that the union can have a role in regulating conditions of intrinsically motivated creative work (Umney & Coderre-LaPalme, 2017). In 2018, the MU represented around 31,000 Musicians, and in the same year, UK Music (2018) published an estimated 91,153 full-time equivalent roles that they classed as ‘Musician’ in the United Kingdom. The MU has established campaigns (Musicians Union, 2020a) such as ‘The Musicians Passport’ as a response to the challenges Musicians face due to Brexit, and also ‘Fair Pay for Musicians’, ‘Keep Music Live’, ‘Support My Music Teacher’ and ‘Fix Streaming’ to name a few. The Covid-19 emergency has highlighted the greater vulnerability of such atypical workers, especially in sectors where social distancing has stopped activity. Urgency with regard to the social protections required by workers has been argued for. As Live Music events and venues have been closed, Musicians are one group where the risks of precarious/insecure and unequal incomes are amplified. At the same time, the crisis highlighted the important contribution the Arts make to public entertainment and well-being, which is separate from the economic value the sector brings to the nation. The MU has argued for this in their ‘Donate to Support Musicians’ campaign (Musicians Union, 2020b). Musicians are a good example of workers who may not have security of income or even minimum wage at times, but may be successful on their own terms. The importance of creativity and meaningfulness problematizes definitions of Decent Work which emphasize objective measures only (Blustein, Kenny, Di Fabio, & Guichard, 2019). The tradition of Musicians’ work resonates with a protean career model of work that is influenced by intrinsic values and subjective success criteria (Hall, 2004; Hall, Yip, & Doiron, 2018). The significance of having a creative outlet and getting recognition for one’s work rather than a secure or lucrative income may well be a feature of many Musicians’ lives (Dries, Pepermans, & Carlier, 2008). In addition, Beech, Gilmore, Hibbert, and Ybema (2016) have reported upon the complexity of a Musical identity which goes far beyond earning a living making Music.

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Academic literature about Musicians illuminates some of these issues. Umney and his co-authors have reflected critically upon the working lives of Jazz Musicians in particular, through highlighting issues of wider relevance to Musicians working in other genres (Umney & Kretsos, 2014, 2015). They have identified important themes in how Musicians manage insecurity. They explore the importance of a passion for Music, work/enjoyment blurring, individualism and self-expression, and how some Musicians purposefully opt against regular work. They also reveal how individual Musicians make choices about stability which may be associated with subordinating a passion and also highlight how socioeconomic backgrounds are crucial in order to cope with insecurity (Umney & Kretsos, 2015). In their research, they also evoke tensions between creative autonomy, entrepreneurialism, collectivism, community as well as a fatalism about poor work conditions. The importance of a unique set of collective values was observed by Coulson (2012) although Umney (2017) argues that competition threatens this. There are complex issues to navigate in Musicians ‘moral economy’ with tensions between market vs moral values, between Musicians and a surrounding network of venues, Agents, Fixers and Bandleaders.2 The use of technology via platforms for organizing work could further disrupt this. In a similar vein to Umney and his co-authors, Haynes and Marshall (2018) describe Musicians as reluctant entrepreneurs and highlight that their model of work has epitomized how modern working practices have developed with individuals just being paid for the work they do rather than having salaried jobs with the benefits of sick pay and holiday pay. In Music education literature, the emphasis for new Musicians to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and needing to develop business and transferable non-Music skills (Bennett & Bridgstock, 2014) has emerged as a pragmatic recognition of insecure work.

Methods This research draws upon 13 interviews conducted between November 2019 and June 2020 with professional and semi-professional Musicians from locations in the North of England and Wales. One participant was based in the Czech Republic but had extensive experience of working in the United Kingdom. All participants were active performers before the Covid-19 pandemic and regularly performed Music to live audiences in professional venues. Participants’ activities cross a broad range of Musical styles including Jazz, Indie, Rock and Pop Music, and whilst a number had experience of ‘function’ or ‘corporate’ performance activities, many had experience of performing their own ‘original’ Music and some were engaging with both corporate and original activities. All the Musicians interviewed had work activity profiles we might class as ‘portfolio’ (Handy, 2011), and whilst some demonstrated Music-only related portfolios (e.g. performing, instrumental teaching, Music classroom teaching, Music-related lecturing), for a number of participants their portfolios contained non-Music related activities such as work in the retail sector or teaching in different subject areas. This small sample follows the approach of other authors writing about Musicians (Haynes & Marshall, 2018; Umney & Kretsos, 2014) and the lead


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author’s role as a practising Musician gave valuable insider access and credibility to this community. We sought a small sample that could illuminate in depth the lives of many Musicians who may struggle to earn a basic and secure average living wage from Music despite being highly skilled. Notably, as will emerge in discussion of the findings, some in our sample had chosen portfolio careers to avoid the hardship, insecurity and precariousness of professional performance careers. The age range of participants ranged from late 30s up to early 60s, and whilst efforts were made to reach a more diverse sample, the majority interviewed were white male (n10) compared to white female (n3). Recruitment to the research was done utilizing a ‘snowball’ method. Interviews were semi-structured and questions sought to explore the following: working practices, including how they secured work, what conditions they were willing to accept for performance work and what they felt Decent Work looked like in the Music industry. Furthermore, we wanted to understand whether, as the original ‘gig’ workers, whether ‘gig’ working platforms similar to those that have gained traction in industries such as Transport and Food Delivery have begun to penetrate the Music Industry. Some further additional discussions after interviews occurred which sought to find out about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst we do offer our insights later into the discussion, we are also clear that this was a small-scale qualitative study that does not offer generalized claims beyond what the participants shared with us of their own experiences. However, our findings seek to raise questions of wider general interest.

Findings and Discussion The following is a discussion of participants’ responses relating to three thematic areas, which emerged as important, and of relevance to our desire to focus on issues surrounding Decent Work. Many of the participants in this study reported a portfolio of work activities, including undertaking additional roles, both Musical and non-Musical, to support their Music performance activities and life commitments. All were established and had secured ways to navigate their work as Musicians with a reasonable level of success. Participant quotations were selected as illustrative of key themes and are anonymized in our discussion, and each one is given a number to identify them.

The Musicians Union: Ambivalent Perspectives In the UK report Measuring Good Work (Carnegie UK Trust & RSA, 2018), trade union membership is recommended as a job quality measure relating to Voice and Representation. This follows the ILO’s commitment to trade unions as important for ‘Social Dialogue’, which is one of the four pillars of Decent Work. Historically, trade unions are considered the key ‘mouth piece’ of organized workers in securing the range of decent worker conditions and rights.

Musicians’ Work: Creativity, Community and Insecurity


We asked our participants if they were members of the MU and the reasons why they were or were not. Six of 13 were not current members of the MU. As Umney and Kretsos (2014) found with Jazz Musicians, insurance was often mentioned as the most crucial reason to be a member. The main reason that I am in the Musicians union is the public liability insurance. And I think that you would find most guys that I know will probably give you the same answer. It’s just the public liability insurance. (A1) Some indicated that they had been able to access additional support such as legal advice and recuperation of non-paid fees. Occasionally, participants were critical of the Union, e.g., the setting of what they perceived as unrealistic gig rates for Live Performance. I think probably they [Gig rates] are quite high, I don’t think you could really get that as an original Band in the UK, I think you’d probably struggle to get that kind of amount. (A13) In discussion, some felt that MU gig rates were London-centric and more applicable to Theatre or Orchestral work rather than the fees likely to be secured at grassroots venue live scene. Others expressed the view that the MU itself directed its resources badly, e.g., one participant expressed scepticism of the glossy production of the MU members’ magazine.3 However, at least two nonmember participants gave the impression of regret or embarrassment at not being members despite being active on the Live Scene and being politically disposed to trade union membership: ‘I should have done it. I knew the guy who was the main MU guy; I should have gotten around to it’ (A6). What was clear in some responses was that some participants felt that the informal Musicians’ community, particularly, those communities that have been established via social media and older channels such as printed DIY Fanzines, was more effective in enacting the Musicians’ voice in managing worker conditions. A faith in being able to trust fellow Musicians emerged. This seem particularly so in instances where it had been reported to the community that a Musician or Group of Musicians had been treated unfairly by a venue or promoter. The community responded by actively encouraging Musicians to avoid taking work from the offending entity. There was a lot of talking, you know, in those days at least in Fanzines, these days it is probably on the internet chat things [social media] … ‘a promoter in [city name] or in [city name] ripped me off in this way, don’t play there’. (A6)


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Participants also reported that some Agents provided private online fora that allowed Musicians to post reviews of venues. This mechanism allowed a community of Musicians to support each other in some of the practicalities of performing at a given venue. For instance, it afforded Musicians the opportunity to identify which members of the venue had been most helpful or unhelpful during a particular engagement. On this facility, one participant commented: …it’s dead open on there because it’s all Musicians [posting] so there would be like, ‘the manager’s a b***, you want to talk to the other guy instead, he was loads better’. (A1) Such collective resistance of poor practice is also done formally by the MU who supports active boycotting of organizations that have been identified as failing to honour agreements for services. It would appear that the MU’s ability to offer a collective voice in terms of support and action against poor working conditions does not offer the incentive to join as it might have done pre-Internet and social media. Although as an organization the MU clearly offers something more than informal social media interactions, in terms of representing the voice of the Musician, one participant was quite scathing of what power they personally felt they have. Although an MU member, he demonstrated limited faith in the ability of the MU to protect the interests of their members. [They are] pretty useless when you’ve got a problem and you go to them. I’ve got friends who they’ve helped with, but it seems like they kind of go as far as like sending the solicitor’s letter and things like that, that would have cost you money. But if it goes further, it’s kind of outside of that track of what they want to do. So legal issues are difficult. (A1) However, a trust in informal relationships and networks does not have the strength of a more formal union organization and may lead to an erosion of working conditions for Musicians. None of our participants indicated they joined the union in order to improve working conditions, which is similar to what has been reported elsewhere (Umney & Kretsos, 2014). There appears to be an acceptance that conditions will vary and in some instances will be bad, and this is just part of being a Musician, an endurance of which can sometime be construed as a badge of honour. With this ‘fatalistic’ viewpoint, the Musicians in this research certainly do not have an inclination that being part of a formal collective voice can influence an improvement in pay and conditions for some of the performance work they undertake.

Networks of Trust in Securing Work In light of the growth of platforms, we asked participants about how they secured work. For our group of participants, platforms for Musicians are peripheral and

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not a vehicle they use to find work. They have an elaborate network of Fixers, Bandleaders and Agents which they engage with, all underscored by the importance of personal reputation and recommendations. They were resistant to the idea that platforms could replace this. Many of our samples that played in groups had either worked as a Fixer, worked with a Fixer or had experience of both, as well as having shared the ‘fixing’ responsibilities within the Band: ‘We kind of do the work between us. Bookings come through various different people in the Band’ (A11). Our participants had their own criteria about what work to accept and what remuneration was acceptable. Relationships of trust underscored many of their choices. Generally, when playing corporate or function type gigs, Musicians always received financial remuneration. The only exceptions to this were occasional charity gigs and when the Musician felt that a live rehearsal would be beneficial to them: ‘…we’ve done it occasionally if, essentially, we wanted to have a practice in front of people’ (A3). However, some participants were reluctant to give services free, including charity work: I’ve done charity work yeah, but very occasionally. You get asked to do charities all the time. My take on it has always been when I’ve been doing it for a living, is that if you give somebody Saturday night for free, it’s a lot of money. I wouldn’t go and put that sort of money in someone’s charity box. (A2) Generally most participants, who performed original Music, had at some point worked for free or for low pay particularly when they felt a gig offered a career benefit such as playing at a prestigious venue for exposure or working with a wellknown artist. Although one participant had come to dislike and avoid such arrangements particularly with venues and promoters: ‘“Oh come, you will get loads of exposure”. And I’m not saying I haven’t exactly ever done it, but I just really dislike the idea’ (A10). Musicians reported other flexible practices with regard to remuneration. For example, some participants discussed accepting trades with promoters or venues instead of monetary payment, such as crates of beer in exchange for performing at the venue. For others, the values of the genres they were active within influenced their approach to career and work conditions. One participant whose early performance experiences were as part of the Punk scene reflected: …in terms of actually making loads of money like beyond what’s required for kind of survival, I suppose, it always seemed not very much like the thing to do really, you know, it was always about…. Punk was so anti-society careerist. (A6) It appears unlikely that faceless platforms will secure an easy footing with Band Musicians, with their complex array of ways of securing different types of


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work. Platforms often function on a low overhead model undercutting competitors, a system that does not align with the moral economics of Band member relationships. Many of the participants of this study indicated that they had acted as Fixer and in doing so appear to have established long-standing and trusting relationships with either Agents or repeat clients, which gave them with the ability to secure work. However, the notion of the client or Agent as ‘outsider’ was also often evident. In being established in their careers, our participants appeared to have become accustomed to seeking out their own markers of trust when choosing who to transact with, including one participant who chose to begin working with their Agent and considered them less of an ‘outsider’ due to a history as a Musician. Interestingly, an emerging platform for Musicians, ‘Encore Musicians’ (2020) explains on its website that every member of their team is a Musician in their own right. Their published ethos is: We’re driven by a genuine desire to help more Musicians earn a living through their craft. We’re also Musicians ourselves and regularly hold informal jam sessions in the office after work. (Encore Musicians, 2020) In contrast to the early career Musicians of other studies (e.g., Umney & Kretsos, 2014), our participants were more established and had strong networks they relied upon. Some had more secure aspects to their working portfolio (e.g., teaching and lecturing) and, therefore, had the ability to choose to work or not work as a performer. Thus, the penetration of platforms such as Encore Musicians may be greater amongst newer Musicians, but for most of our sample, platforms had made no impact. Most were not even aware of any of the existing platforms. Only one had signed up with Encore Musicians, but had never accepted work from them. One participant indicated that he would prefer to avoid platform-based work: ‘I would do if I was desperate. I would only do it if I was desperate’ (A6). In summary, securing work from someone who was trusted was a factor in making decisions. Musicians developed their own ways to judge whether work was acceptable using varied criteria. Some reflected that they had got much better at working out what was fair as they got older. Others were inclined to do their own informal checks with Agents and venues to ensure their ‘cut’ (A6) was fair by estimating ticket sales and comparing to the cut they received. In an industry where there appears to be a large gap between top earners and low earners, is it any surprise that Musicians tend to be cautious of working with third parties, and that anonymous platforms are not attractive?

Defining Decent Work During research interviews, we asked our participants how they define Decent Work. Responses were varied and included subjective aspects related to respect, dignity, creativity as well as more objective measures of remuneration and equality. With regard to a secure living wage, we were keen to understand what

Musicians’ Work: Creativity, Community and Insecurity


Musicians felt were acceptable conditions for paid and unpaid work. In discussions, it emerged that for some, the word ‘work’ had negative connotations which influenced how they made judgements about getting paid: … long [Folk] gigs sometimes feels a bit like work. But if I’m with a bunch of people that I’m enjoying being with, and I get to do a lot of improvisation, then it doesn’t often feel like work. (A10) …I don’t see it as work… I was very idealistic when I was in my youth. And the ideology being you know, that it shouldn’t be work, that Punk is something else other than kind of work. (A6) Some articulated that the more creative the opportunity, and personally rewarding, the less it felt like work, and this value was an important determinant on whether to engage with activities including those that were low paid or unpaid. All participants demonstrated some element of a portfolio framework to their work activities, and generally, unpaid work was an element of this. One participant indicated that especially early in their career they would perform original material extensively in venues across the United Kingdom, regardless of whether the activities were well paid, low paid or unpaid. However, as many had gotten older, and their financial and family commitments had grown, this influenced their ability to engage with low or unpaid performing activities. They could no longer afford to engage with these activities because much more of their time was focused upon activities in their portfolio that returned greater financial reward. This type of filtering through work offers in order to navigate a balance between ‘life course’ and Musical activity was commonplace. I think when I was 18, we did 250 gigs a year. Yeah, we just, you know, we, we dropped out of college and that’s what we decided we were going to do. So we played every single gig we could possibly, some of those were just utterly pointless, you know, and as I’ve got older and obviously got family and stuff now it’s, you know, there has to be… I have to see the benefit of, of that particular gig. In terms of the corporate stuff, primarily, it’s how much I’m gonna get paid. (A3) Some participants expressed fears of discrimination based on age. A number articulated that age might be a barrier to securing work. Although their Musical ability to perform remained relatively unchanged (and potentially improved), one participant indicated that in their Musical genre there was an expectation that the female performers would be younger than 40–49 age bracket she occupied. This appears more from a marketing perspective rather the Musical quality of the activities she delivered. Another participant indicated that they considered age


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would eventually limit the opportunities to secure function gigs such as weddings because clients tended to book younger looking Bands. Only one participant raised gender equality issues and reported that this was a particular problem when working in some overseas countries in her genre. In these scenarios, she had experienced being sidelined in business and organizational discussions with venues and promoters in favour of her male counterparts and was not sure that she always received the same treatment in terms of remuneration. I have known that I have been paid less than Bandmates because I was a woman. So sometimes that was hard. And sometimes, you know, I’ve been on the road in different countries where, you know, I’m expected to just shut up and sit at the back and do as I’m told, mainly by the locals. (A13) This participant had learnt to navigate these negative scenarios by establishing trusting relationships with other Musicians and providers of work, and had kept to these channels when accepting work. As authors, we are also aware that the bias of our sample group is an indicator of structural gender inequality issues in the Music business, whereby some of our male participants may be able to continue with their Musical careers, which demand flexibility, due to having partners (often female) who can support them both financially and domestically. The absence of female Musicians continuing with more established Musical careers may be an indicator of enduring structural problems in this industry. Other reflections upon Decent Work in Music ranged from remunerative rewards to conditions of work, including subtle indicators of respect and dignity. One participant commented: ‘I like it when we get treated nice’ (A1). When asked to elaborate, the participant indicated things like a ‘rider’ including ‘a warm meal and just general politeness from venues’. Other participants expressed that audience recognition and appreciation (especially from knowledgeable Musical audiences) was an important aspect to them in their work with one participant expressing that Decent Work included a ‘Good response from the audience’ (A10). The same participant also expressed that Decent Work for her was when she found the work activity creatively challenging: So it relies on my creativity and being able to react to a situation on the day. Usually you don’t get any warning. You rock up and you play to what you hear. And I like, I like the challenge of that. (A10) In summary, participant reflections upon Decent Work do go beyond objective measures such as protection from discrimination and exploitation. Subjective considerations surrounding creativity, and the rewards and meaningfulness of performance work emerge strongly.

Musicians’ Work: Creativity, Community and Insecurity


Conclusions Many of the Musicians had broader value systems than just remuneration, and use ‘intrinsic motivations’ (e.g., Hall et al., 2018; Umney & Coderre-LaPalme, 2017) to evaluate offers of poorly paid work when they arise. As highly skilled workers, Decent Work for some Musicians could include some types of badly remunerated work, in which ‘dignity’ and ‘meaningfulness’ were valued more than remuneration. These findings support what Umney and Coderre-LaPalme (2017) have observed with regard to the complex nature of ‘meaning of work’ issues for Musicians as well as what Blustein et al. (2019) have described as the significance of meaning and purpose at work. For the majority of participants, Decent Work is connected to the success of their interaction with their audience, more opportunities to be creative and for it to be a challenging activity. Appreciation of their skills appears high on their agenda, whether that is articulated through respect implied by good conditions at venues (such as changing rooms, food and drink) or a more responsive audience. Such varied success criteria align with literature which illuminates varied values about career success (Dries et al., 2008; Hall, 2004). A Decent Work lens has been useful to illuminate and critically evaluate Musicians’ work. Our findings support patterns reported elsewhere and lead us to build upon discussions about Musicians and organized union activity (Umney & CoderreLaPalme, 2017; Umney & Kretsos, 2014). ‘Intrinsic motivations’ are at the centre of our participants’ approach to work, and this presents challenges as their search for ‘meaning of work’ can conflict with the MU’s ability to act to secure better work conditions for all. This explains why the target of some MU campaigning is the engagers of Musicians rather than Musicians themselves. We found that although these Musicians are part of what might seem an unfair reward system where the most commercially successful ‘stars’ take the greatest reward, whilst other equally highly skilled Musicians earn below average UK wages, they have a fatalistic acceptance towards this structural system in their business. Furthermore, there appears limited engagement and faith with traditional frameworks for the enactment of worker rights and an acceptance that change will not be driven by legislation/regulation, and that union intervention on perceived poor working conditions is perceived as ‘interference’ (Umney & Coderre-LaPalme, 2017). Our participants imply that the only way they can improve their conditions is through greater audience interest with the assumption that this will lead to economic viability. They accept the ‘door money’ economic model in that the greater their audience size, the better their conditions will improve. We, therefore, think that within our sample, even if it is unconsciously, especially when playing original Music, the Musicians appear to feel that it is a normal part of Musical careers to have to accept poor pay and conditions. For them, the only way to better their situation is to support performance activities with other elements of their portfolio or by gaining bigger audiences at their gigs. It follows that if they do not progress positively, they themselves feel responsible for the insecurity of their situation. As such, they do appear to have embraced passively or actively neoliberal individualist assumptions about meritocracy that risk responsibilizing workers and ignore structural inequalities. The improvement of their own


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careers appears to demonstrate an entrepreneurial/individualistic outlook which is not always compatible with the explicit collectivism of trade union membership, although widely associated with notions of expressive creativity. When securing and undertaking work, our sample actively looked for markers of trust from partners and those more likely to act by ‘moral’ as well as ‘market’ principles. This perhaps contributes to explaining why online gig work platforms have yet to significantly disrupt existing working practices in this group. However, according to the Encore Musicians website, over 31,000 Musicians are signed up which illustrates growth. There is every possibility that emerging platforms could disrupt industry norms as there is little central regulation of pay and conditions, and many Musicians rely on informal networks. Many performing Musicians navigate tensions between insecurity of work and ‘life course’ changes by shifting focus to parts of their portfolio which offer more consistent earnings. All participants have accepted low paid or unpaid work at some point in the hope that the opportunity would lead to the positive development of their careers, although many had clearly become more cautious of accepting these conditions as they became older. In our sample, the participants all demonstrated advanced development of other aspects of their portfolio, and this was in order to balance or eradicate insecurity for their changing ‘life course’. We might argue that in resolving economic challenges through development of other aspects of their portfolio, another ‘insecurity’ perhaps arises in the paucity of time to realize creative/expressive activities, whatever type of performance activity this might be. Some of the approaches to the labour market described here appear to have worked for our group of established Musicians. However, questions are raised especially in light of Covid-19 as to whether more needs to be done in active labour market policy as well as within the Musicians’ community itself to insure that individual Musicians of all career stages have reasonable levels of social protection. It is clear from interviews that took place during the ongoing Covid-19 emergency and in a number of post-interview follow-ups that our sample were able to rely upon or adapt other elements of their portfolios to support themselves during lockdown. A number had received UK Government grants for the selfemployed and were adapting teaching practices to online delivery with some success. However, although some were managing to engage with online performance activities, it is clear that frameworks for remuneration for these sorts of performance activities are still in their infancy both for performers and for their audiences.

Notes 1. Dua Lipa is an English singer and songwriter signed to the Warner Music Group who has won Brit Awards and Grammys for her chart topping Music. 2. A ‘Fixer’ is defined as someone, usually a member of a Band, who negotiates work for the Band. 3. The Musicians Union magazine has now become a digital distribution due to the Covid-19 emergency.

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References Beech, N., Gilmore, C., Hibbert, P., & Ybema, S. (2016). Identity-in-the-work and musicians’ struggles: The production of self-questioning identity work. Work, Employment & Society, 30(3), 506–522. doi:10.1177/0950017015620767 BEIS. (2018). The characteristics of those in the gig economy. UK Government. Retrieved from uploads/attachment_data/file/687553/The_characteristics_of_those_in_the_gig_ economy.pdf. Accessed on August 30, 2020. Bennett, D., & Bridgstock, R. (2014). The urgent need for career preview: Student expectations and graduate realities in music and dance. International Journal of Music Education, 33(3), 263–277. doi:10.1177/0255761414558653 Blustein, D. L., Kenny, M. E., Di Fabio, A., & Guichard, J. (2019). Expanding the impact of the psychology of working: Engaging psychology in the struggle for decent work and human rights. Journal of Career Assessment, 27(1), 3–28. Bullock, A. (2020). Dua Lipa banks £25 million DOUBLING her annual earnings as pop star gains on the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran on the world’s music rich list. Daily Mail. Retrieved from Dua-Lipa-banks-25-million-DOUBLING-annual-earnings-pop-star-gains-likesAdele.html. Accessed on August 30, 2020. Carnegie UK Trust & RSA. (2018). Measuring good work: The final report of the measuring job quality working group. Carnegie UK Trust. Retrieved from https:// Accessed on August 30, 2020. Coulson, S. (2012). Collaborating in a competitive world: Musicians’ working lives and understandings of entrepreneurship. Work, Employment and Society, 26(2), 246–261. Dries, N., Pepermans, R., & Carlier, O. (2008). Career success: Constructing a multidimensional model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73(2), 254–267. doi: 10.1016/j.jvb.2008.05.005 Encore Musicians. (2020). Encore musicians website. Retrieved from https:// Accessed on August 30, 2020. Hall, D. T. (2004). The protean career: A quarter-century journey. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65(1), 1–13. Hall, D. T., Yip, J., & Doiron, K. (2018). Protean careers at work: Self-direction and values orientation in psychological success. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 5(1), 129–156. doi:10.1146/annurevorgpsych-032117-104631 Handy, C. (2011). The empty raincoat: Making sense of the future. New York, NY: Random House. Haynes, J., & Marshall, L. (2018). Reluctant entrepreneurs: Musicians and entrepreneurship in the ‘new’ music industry. British Journal of Sociology, 69(2), 459–482. Huws, U., Spencer, N. H., & Joyce, S. (2016). Crowd work IN Europe: Preliminary results from a survey in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Austria and The Netherlands. FEPS. Retrieved from 463_1.pdf. Accessed on August 30, 2020. ILO. (2019). Work for brighter future. ILO. Retrieved from topics/future-of-work/brighter-future/lang–en/index.htm. Accessed on August 30, 2020.


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Musicians Union. (2020a). Campaign. Musicians Union. Retrieved from https:// Accessed on August 30, 2020. Musicians Union. (2020b). Donate to support musicians. Musicians Union. Retrieved from Accessed on August 30, 2020. Musicians Union. (2020c). Fair pay for musicians. Musicians Union. Retrieved from Accessed on August 30, 2020. Taylor, M., Marsh, G., Nicol, D., & Broadbent, P. (2017). Good work: The Taylor review of modern working practices (pp. 11). London: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. UK Music. (2018). Measuring music 2018 report. UK Music. Retrieved from https:// Accessed on August 30, 2020. UK Music. (2019). Music by numbers 2019. UK Music. Retrieved from https:// Accessed on August 30, 2020. Umney, C. (2017). Moral economy, intermediaries and intensified competition in the labour market for function musicians. Work, Employment and Society, 31(5), 834–850. Umney, C., & Coderre‐LaPalme, G. (2017). Blocked and new frontiers for trade unions: Contesting ‘the meaning of work’ in the creative and caring sectors. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 55(4), 859–878. Umney, C., & Kretsos, L. (2014). Creative labour and collective interaction: The working lives of young jazz musicians in London. Work, Employment and Society, 28(4), 571–588. Umney, C., & Kretsos, L. (2015). “That’s the experience” passion, work precarity, and life transitions among London jazz musicians. Work and Occupations, 42(3), 313–334. Wilson, B. (2017). What is the ’gig’ economy? BBC. Retrieved from https:// Accessed on August 30, 2020.

Chapter 10

Structural Barriers to Achieving Decent Work in the Greek Hospitality Industry: A Critical Employment Relations Approach Orestis Papadopoulos

Abstract Using a critical employment relations approach, the chapter illustrates the implications of labour market reforms for workers. It traces changes in public policy and includes worker reflections on their conditions from data collected during 2018–2019. It unravels the antagonistic and conflict-driven elements of the employment relationship; a relationship that has been reshaped by the active role of the State whose intervention favoured the employers’ side at the expense of employees’ interests. In addition, to shed light on the effects of the pandemic that broke out in February–March 2020, the chapter also draws upon secondary data such as newspaper articles and reports, as access to workers during the pandemic was practically difficult while the latter is still evolving. The chapter concludes by demonstrating that the crisis and labour market reforms was an opportunity for employers to introduce and implement a cost-cutting agenda that was in clear conflict with basic facets of a decent work agenda. Keywords: Decent work; employment relations; Greece; hospitality; tourism; public policy

Introduction The food service and hotel industries sector has grown impressively in recent years and is today one of the fastest growing sectors internationally. According to the World Bank (2017), in 2016 tourism-related food and service and hotel businesses contributed 10% ($7613.3bn) of global gross domestic product (GDP) and generated 292 million jobs. The hotel industry has seen record-breaking revenues that reached $830 billion in 2018 (Deloitte, 2018). In a context of high Decent Work, 129–139 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211010


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internationalization (opening up of new markets) and heightened competition, the hotel industry in particular has seen important consolidation and concentration trends exemplified in the emergence of a small number of global companies that control a large number of brands and employ a numerous workforce. Around 250 hotel chains worldwide control around 6,000 hotels and employ 150,000 workers in 100 countries. This does not mean that small and medium-sized business disappeared overnight, but it does show the tendency towards higher concentration and competitive pressures upon smaller and medium-sized hotels. However, the industry is susceptible to geopolitical, economic and health-related changes (as the current pandemic), and therefore, economic and employment indicators can suddenly change. Moreover, in recent years, the economic growth in the hospitality industry has risen hopes that a decent work agenda can be implemented helping improve hospitality employees’ working conditions (ILO, 2017). Within this context, many international organizations and policymakers stress (ILO, 2017; UNWTO, 2020) the possibility for creating sustainable and competitive tourism that advances the interests of both workers and business within a decent work framework. This chapter investigates the possibilities for and challenges to decent work in hospitality in Greece during the period (2013–2019) that the country experienced strong tourism and hospitality growth. Although the industry has traditionally seen stronger sectoral regulation (existence of sectoral agreement) and union presence in comparison to other countries (Papadopoulos & Lyddon, 2020), significant labour market reforms have been implemented as part of the three austerity packages introduced in Greece (from 2010 to 2015). The chapter seeks to explore how these reforms have affected working conditions and reflect on the challenges and possibilities for the promotion of a decent work agenda.

Adopting a Critical Employment Relations Approach Despite economic success in the sector, previous studies have reported that in both high-end and medium-level product markets hotel workers experience bad working conditions, low wages and precarity (Baum, 2019; Bernhardt, Dresser, & Hatton, 2003; Lopez Andreu, Papadopolous, & Mandi, 2019). In their attempt to reduce costs and become more competitive, hotels pursue strategies that cause work intensification, limit job control and increase employee stress. These strategies are actively supported by weak union presence, lack of multi-employer agreements and violations of labour rights (Vanselow, Warhurst, Bernhardt, & Dresser, 2010; Warhurst, Lloyd, & Dutton, 2008). Most accounts have explained limited collective agreements in the hospitality industry by references to weak trade unions and the regionally dispersed and fragmented nature of tourism, but less attention has been given to countries with strong traditions of sectoral regulation like Greece (Grossman & Greenfield, 2006). Similarly, although the complexity of globalized corporate ownership structures allows outsourcing and subcontracting (Lopez Andreu et al., 2019), less attention has been paid to how the economic crisis and the subsequent labour market reforms enabled businesses to make use of these contracts in order to undermine collective agreements.

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Moreover, in many accounts, workers are seen as a factor of production whose needs can be satisfied by mutually beneficial agreements with employers and other organizations (Robinson, Martins, Solnet, & Baum, 2019; Winchenbach, Hanna, & Miller, 2019). Although the gap between decent work rhetoric and working conditions have been discussed (Robinson et al., 2019), the power imbalance and the antagonistic relationship between employers and employees is rarely integrated into these analyses. As a result, most of them fail to grasp why and how decent jobs and quality employment are actively jeopardized in this industry. This happens for two main reasons: First, the State is seen as a neutral actor that helps both employers and employees advancing the interests of the industry as a whole. But, as this chapter demonstrates, State policies have clearly benefited the employers’ side. Secondly, most of these accounts see flexible work as an industry-related characteristic (necessary in many respects), whose impact can be mitigated through regulation and mutually beneficial agreements. However, less emphasis is placed on how flexible contracts are serving the interests of employers for labour costs reduction, creating a rather bleak employment environment for workers. Adopting a critical employment relations approach (Kelly, 2012), the chapter looks at significant developments in the industrial relations field in Greece and discusses the extent that State-led labour market reforms and policies responded to employers’ needs. The findings demonstrate that the challenges to decent work in the hospitality industry are structurally determined and reveal the different interests that employers and employees have. Legal reforms enacted by the State actively reshaped the capital–labour relationship, changing the precrisis balance of power between them (Papadopoulos, 2016). So, even though the tourism industry saw significant revenues in the period 2013–2020, the rate of exploitation of workers increased as wages were dropped and flexible contracts skyrocketed. Young workers in particular shouldered most of the weight mainly because they lacked work experience and collective consciousness (knowledge of employment rights etc), while the lack of other labour market opportunities made them more prone to accepting inferior working conditions without resistance. This has empowered employers’ right to unilaterally organize the labour process, weakening employees’ rights and ability to resist (Bianchi & de Man, 2021).

Methods The research findings are drawn from a larger project on the Greek tourism industry conducted by the author during 2018–2020 period, in which a series of aspects of the employment relations in the Greek hospitality industry were examined through multiple methods. More specifically, the data derive from 35 interviews with employees, trade unions and employers associations’ representatives of the hotel industry carried out between October 2019 and March 2020. The interview questions centred on the work experiences (working hours, pay and benefits) of hotel employees and the challenges to the introduction of a decent work agenda. Most interviews were held with workers from mainly large,


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usually 5-star (some 4-star) hotels. More than half worked in Athens, five others on the mainland, with the rest either from the large island of Crete or from the smaller islands of Corfu and Kefalonia, in the Ionian Sea, and Mykonos, Paros, Rhodes and Santorini, in the Aegean. These regions accounted for 85 percent of the total revenue generated by the Greek hotel industry in 2017 (ITEP, 2018) and are, therefore, representative of the industry as a whole. The sample of interviewees was clearly not large enough to be considered in any way representative, but it did allow us to explore the reality of the changes since the crisis. Quotations from participants are woven into the following sections which explore changes in the industry. In addition, a significant number of newspaper articles, press releases and speeches were analyzed in order to gain more insights into the effects of labour market reforms and employers strategies on the working conditions of hotel employees.

The Effects on Workers of Labour Market Reforms In 2012, many state actors and employers organizations representatives identified tourism as ‘a national affair’ whose success could be of paramount significant for the economic recovery of the then indebted country. As opposed to the depressing conditions observed in other sectors of the Greek economy (primarily construction and manufacturing), tourism experienced indeed a considerable increase in revenues, visitors and investments in subsequent years. Taking advantage of geopolitical developments in neighbouring countries, Greece saw an increase in visitors from 17.9 million in 2013 to 33 million in 2019, while its overall contribution to GDP was 11.7% in 2018 (INSETE, 2019a). This translated into significant employment gains with employment rising by an annual average of 0.9% in the period 2008–17, with 7.8% growth in 2014 (INSETE, 2018). Total employment in tourism was 398,700 in 2017 with its national share climbing to 10.4% compared with 7.5% in 2008. In 2018, tourism became such an important export-oriented sector that almost half of Greek exports were related to tourism activities (INSETE, 2019b). However, these gains were not translated into better working conditions mainly because of the labour market reforms enacted since 2009–2010 as part of austerity measures deregulating the Greek labour market and making the use of labour power more flexible and adjustable (Eleftheriou & Papadopoulos, 2018). Union officials claimed that deregulation fulfilled an industry-wide objective previously blocked by national laws and sector agreements. More specifically, the crisis and labour market reforms enabled Greek employers to respond to fluctuating demands and reduce their labour costs by using a myriad of flexible contracts (14 different forms of flexible work are available for employers) such as temporary, part-time, one-day, rotation, agency and outsourcing/subcontracting among others. In a report, on the developments of the Greek tourism industry, the Research Institute of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (INSETE) indirectly praised the labour market reforms, calling on the current government to sustain the flexible employment regime that has been established in the labour market (INSETE, 2018).

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Available data show that during the period 2009–2018 the annual increase of permanent employment in the Greek hospitality industry was 0.3% when parttime rose by 9.7% during the same period (Rizospastis, 2019). This enabled employers to reduce their labour costs as for the same period the average day wage rate for hospitality workers reached 39.56 euro in 2018 when in 2011 the rate was 50.84 euro. Flexible work has also resulted in work intensification and higher exploitation, mainly because these workers are more vulnerable, fearful and inexperienced. A 26-year-old female waitress employed as an agency worker by a large hotel in Central Greece specializing in conferences described in a rather blunt way how hotels are taking advantage of these contracts: I was employed in food and beverage department where there were not enough staff. We were just two people for the breakfast and the bar, I had to work very intensely and fast. However, I never got extra pay for Sundays, holidays or overwork, since my pay was fixed at 450 a month. This has created a segmentation of the workforce with older and permanent workers having better working conditions (albeit declining) and younger and less experienced employed through flexible contracts with less pay and limited employment rights. The introduction of clauses according to which company-level agreements can contain inferior terms from those of sectoral agreements was also introduced by labour market reforms and helped employers to individualize the employment relationship and avoid regulation (Koukiadaki & Kretsos, 2012). The abolition of the compulsory implementation of sectoral agreement and the opportunity granted to employers to just pay the minimum wage was additional means through which the working conditions of hospitality workers were seriously eroded. Contrary to the pre-crisis period where a large number of workers were covered by the sectoral agreement, since the crisis only around 10 percent of all hotel workers were covered and only in those workplaces with union presence only or in hotels that wanted to avoid reputational damage. But, even in these workplaces where sectoral agreements remained in place, their weight and impact were undermined by the increasing use of flexible work. For instance, even in cases where flexible contracts were covered by sector agreements, working hours were very unpredictable and some benefits (such as sick leave and holiday pay) often did not apply to them. A 40-year-old male (full-time but temporary) nonunion cleaner in a large unionized 5-star Athens hotel explained: I am only guaranteed a minimum of one day per month, so in quite periods my salary can be rely low and in some cases my employer decides to not renew my contract at all. Employers use also other forms of flexible employment patterns such as workbased training programs and voucher schemes to reduce their costs. For instance, those that have participated in traineeships in tourism as part of their practical


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education have reported a working environment where traineeships are treated as free or very cheap labour. Labour centres from Rhodes and Crete in a letter to the prime minister condemned the increasing use of trainees from tourist schools in Greece and abroad (mainly Eastern Europe) that experience very bad working/ accommodation conditions and receive no training opportunities (MIIR, 2020). These practises along with the ones mentioned above also contribute to the generation of a very adaptable workforce prepared to accept continuous changes and requirements because this is precisely what the tourism sector requires.

Seasonal Employees Fare (Even) Worse The situation is more difficult for those workers employed in tourism (seasonal) destinations. Seasonal hotels in particular are heavily dependent on informal employment, low wages, tax reduction (and evasion) and exploitative working conditions (Gialis et al., 2018, p: 16). For instance, reports about the extensive use of interns in many 5-star hotels in popular islands like Mykonos and Crete were combined with employers’ practices to officially declare fewer hours than these workers had been employed for. According to a recent report by the Labour Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), around 50 percent of hotel workers work more hours than those specified in their employment contracts without these extra work officially registered, and in many occasions paid (INE- GSEE, 2020). In these workplaces, workers experienced work intensification, long-working hours and reduction of employment protection to have worsened substantially in recent years. Nasos (37 years of age employed by a 5-star hotel in Mykonos) stressed the informal, intense and exploitative nature of his work: In many occasions social contributions are not properly paid and employees have to do multiple tasks, meaning that they work overtime without extra pay in most cases. The additional pay (75%) for Sunday work is not paid by most hotels with most employees ending up working 12–15 hours per days for 5–6 months without any day off. Working conditions had negative effects on workers’ health and safety as some reported increasing incidents of occupational-related injuries. The following quote is indicative of that trend which was quite common among seasonal workers: ‘Work intensity was such that I got a problem in my ear which was related with high stress. I was scared about my health’ (Melina, female, 41, 4-star hotel in Paros). According to the findings, seasonal workers have been experiencing unhealthy housing conditions mainly because employers attempt to reduce their costs by putting together as many workers as possible in badly maintained accommodation. This prompted the president of the Hellenic Federation of Food Workers and Employees of Tourism Professions (PIEE-HSE) to state that in some Greek islands (Cyclades) the working and housing conditions of seasonal workers

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resemble ‘a jungle’. There were cases where employees (eight people) stay in small containers in the summer without air-conditioning and drainage. He explained that in most occasions employees complain anonymously (via telephone) about employers’ practices, but they refuse to accuse their employers officially due to fear of job loss. The absence of unions in most seasonal hotels together with the very limited presence of enforcement agencies exacerbated the problems that hotel workers were experiencing even before the economic crisis. The steep rise in unemployment rates was a contributing factor in making employers strategies more aggressive since the reserved army of unemployed (especially young people) was supplying hotels with a continuing number of workers making them less concerned about high turnover. Because of the above, many employees have been victimized and forced to either accept managerial decisions or face dismissal and non-renewal of contracts. Reduced workloads and unstable schedules were also used widely to punish those reacting to the degradation of their working conditions. For instance, a 26-year-old female waitress in a medium-sized 5-star hotel in Santorini explained that her refusal to accept a salary below the sector agreement reduced significantly her chance of keeping her job, with more compliant employees preferred.

Pandemic and Hospitality Work: Bleak Prospects ahead At the time of writing, the Covid-19 pandemic was at its initial height leading to the decimation of the hospitality business in Greece and highlighting the vulnerabilities of workers discussed earlier. As indication of the above, the arrivals to Greece from abroad dropped by 93 percent in June, reaching 590,000 tourists, when the same time last year, the total number was 8.4 million (Politico, 2020). A significant number of employment contracts have been suspended with employees receiving a State benefit of 534 euro per month as a compensation for the lose income. Many hospitality employees (especially the flexible ones) receive no social benefits at all. Unions estimates that hospitality employees will survive on less than 3000–4000 euros (at the best-case scenario) per year that is almost half of what they would earn in a normal year (Documento, 2020). Unions have organized various demonstrations to express their resentment with the limited support provided by the State and the employers’ refusal to respect the terms and conditions of collective agreements. Also, large hotels and other hospitality businesses responded to the pandemic by not renewing flexible contracts, without technically laying off people although some of them have been employed by those business for a long time (Rizospastis, 2020a). Media reports show that the workers who return to their work have seen a deterioration of their terms and conditions with unpredictable working schedules, overtime, work intensification and unpaid wages becoming the rule (Rizospastis, 2020b). The Federation of hospitality workers announced that many employers violate labour rights either pay lower (than the sectoral agreement) wages or pushing workers to voluntary resign in order to avoid labour costs (POET, 2020). In other instances, seasonal workers are forced to


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sign a written statement according to which they give up their right (stated in the collective agreement) to be rehired by their employer next year (Rizospastis, 2020c). Unions have also reported the widespread use of multitasking since the pandemic as the number of workers returning to work is lower than the one required by the hotels to cover consumer demand, leading to work intensification and no respect for health protection measures (Rizospastis, 2020c).

Discussion and Conclusions This chapter showed that the 2008–2009 economic crisis and labour market reforms enabled Greek hotels to fulfil their long-term demand of responding to fluctuating demands through a more flexible utilization of their labour force. Through a series of labour market reforms, the State acted as a vehicle for implementing long-standing demands of hospitality businesses, central of which was the implementation of flexible work practices and the decentralization of wage-setting mechanisms. Since the crisis, the majority of hospitality workers have not been covered by sectoral agreements, and there is no union presence in most workplaces. This employment landscape has enabled hotels to avoid fixed costs associated with employing staff when the demand was low, but for employees, the outcomes are extreme exploitative practises, stress, fear and insecurity. So, even though the dominant narrative interprets labour reforms as necessary measures taken to stimulate employment and economic growth in tourism, this chapter shows that workers have seen a substantial loss in terms of long-standing employment rights and decent wages. The above outlines the significant challenges that the decent work agenda faces in the hospitality industry even in the more regulated Greek context where unions are present and collective agreements still exist. The significant growth rates observed in hospitality were not translated into better work conditions, and, in fact, labour market reforms have acted as a precondition for making the labour market more flexible reducing the effects of sectoral regulation. Although flexibility has been widely criticized in most accounts, there is a recognition that the right dose of regulation of flexible contracts can result in positive results for both employers and employees. However, the findings strongly show that for hotel employees no positive flexibility–related outcomes were observed as flexible contracts meant higher uncertainty and unpredictability for them in terms of wages, working hours and employment security. Adopting a critical employment relationship perspective, the chapter shows that the interests of employers and employees are antagonistic and conflicting as the former strive to reduce costs, increase flexibility, and the latter need collective protection and secure contracts. The employment relationship in the Greek hospitality industry was actively re-shaped by State-led labour market reforms that responded to the needs of employers undermining some long-standing employment rights. Stateled policies actively prevented workers from seeing an improvement in their conditions despite the significant growth rates in recent years. The current pandemic deserves a more detailed analysis, but for the purposes of this chapter, there was a preliminary identification of the responses of State and

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employers. The pandemic has hit hard the Greek industry with a substantial number of workers remaining outside the labour market for this year. The evidence suggests that the employment rights are under significant pressure mainly because employers tend to respond to the crisis by reducing labour costs and undermining collective agreements. Hospitality workers are forced to survive on very low social benefits that are not even covering all of them. Opening up the Greek tourism industry also presented many challenges to employment rights as the majority of employees experience limited or absent protection measures against the pandemic. This chapter has discussed in some length the challenges that such an agenda faces when implemented in an inherently antagonistic and conflict-driven socioeconomic context. Although hopes have been expressed that some actors like the State will intervene in a reconciling manner to satisfy the interests of both employers and employees, this chapter shows that State policies supported the employers’ side. Since the economic activity in hospitality is profit-driven and situated in a rather competitive international environment, the above observation is not surprising when a critical perspective is adopted. What is more pressing is to adopt critical perspectives that grasp the structural determinants of working conditions and explore how power dynamics are shaped and reshaped in given economic and political conditions. Given that the previous crisis was an opportunity for employers to introduce and implement a cost-cutting agenda through labour market reforms, it will be worth examining in more detail how the current crisis will play out given that this time the hospitality industry is unlikely to recover quickly not only in Greece but internationally as well. I conclude that the outcomes of the pandemic and the crisis will be determined largely by the balance of power between employers and employees and the ability of workers organizations to press employers and the State to respect employment rights.

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Gialis, S., Gourzis, K., & Underthun, A. (2018). Going under-employed: Industrial and regional effects, specialization and part-time work across recession-hit Southern European Union regions. European Urban and Regional Studies, 25(3), 300–319. Grossman, P., & Greenfield, G.(2006) Financialization: New routes to profit, new challenges for trade unions. Labour Education, The Quarterly Review of the ILO 19 Bureau for Workers’ Activities, 1/2006, No.142. Retrieved from http:// ILO. (2017). ILO guidelines on decent work and socially responsible tourism. Geneva: International Labour Office. Retrieved from public/—ed_dialogue/—sector/documents/normativeinstrument/wcms_546337.pdf INE-GSEE. (2020). Violation of employment rights: The case of tourism and hospitality [Η parabatikόthta sthn ergasίa Η perίptvsh toy episitismoύtoyrismoύ]. Studies 48. Retrieved from INSETE. (2018). Employment in tourism and the other sectors of the Greek economy 2008–2017 [Η 0apasxόlhsh ston Τoyrismό kai toy§ Loipoύ§ klάdoy§ th§ ellhnikή§ Οikonomίa§] (Athens, Intelligence Greek Tourism Confederation). INSETE. (2019a). Tourism’s contribution to the Greek economy 2018 [Η symbolή toy toyrismoύ sthn ellhnikή oikonomίa to 2018 in Greek]. INSETE. (2019b). Employment in tourism and the other sectors of the Greek economy 2009–2018 [Η apasxόlhsh sta Κatalύmata kai thn Εstίash kai toy§ Loipoύ§ Κlάdoy§ th§ Εllhnikή§ Οikonomίa§, 2009–2018] (Athens, Intelligence Greek Tourism Confederation). ITEP. (2018). Developments in the basic figures of Greek hotel industry [Oi ejelίjei§ sta basikά megέuh th§ ellhnikή§ jenodoxίa§] (Athens, Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasting). Kelly, J. (2012). Rethinking industrial relations: Mobilisation, collectivism and long waves. Routledge. Koukiadaki, A., & Kretsos, L. (2012). Opening Pandora’s box: The sovereign debt crisis and labour market regulation in Greece. Industrial Law Journal, 41(3), 276–304. Lopez Andreu, M., Papadopolous, O., & Mandi, J. (2019). How has the UK hotels sector been affected by the fissuring of the worker–Employer relationship in the last 10 years. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Mediterranean Institute for Investigative Reporting (MIIR). (2020). Trapped in Paradise the dark side of Greek tourism industry. Retrieved from trapped-in-paradise/ Papadopoulos, O. (2016). Youth unemployment discourses in Greece and Ireland before and during the economic crisis: Moving from divergence to ‘contingent convergence’. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 37(3), 493–515. Papadopoulos, O., & Lyddon, D. (2020). Deregulation and institutional conversion in the Greek hotel industry: An employment relations model in transition. Industrial Relations Journal, 51(1–2), 92–109. POET. (2020). POET press release – Start of tourism [Deltio tύpoy PΟΕΕΤ- Εnarjh toy Τoyrismoύ]. Retrieved from Politico. (2020). Greece’s tourist reopening brings more infections but no economic panacea. Retrieved from Accessed on July 19, 2020.

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Rizospastis. (2019). It is confirmed that … “growth for all” means crushing employees [Εpibebaiώnei όti h… «anάptyjh gia όloy§» shmaίnei tsάkisma tvn ergazomέnvn]. Retrieved from Rizospastis. (2020a). Initiatives for tourism and seasonal workers continue (Synexίzontai oi prvtoboylίe§ gia toy§ ergazόmenoy§ ston Toyrismό kai toy§ epoxikoύ§). Retrieved from Rizospastis. (2020b). Employees in Tourism - Food: Vulnerable, either with a pandemic or without [Εrgazόmenoi ston Τoyrismό - Εpisitismό: Εyάlvtoi, eίte me pandhmίa eίte xvrί§…]. Retrieved from id510728721 Rizospastis. (2020c). Mission of Rizospastis in Crete [Αpostolή toy Ρizospάsth sthn Κrήth]. Retrieved from 2020&pageNo518 Robinson, R. N., Martins, A., Solnet, D., & Baum, T. (2019). Sustaining precarity: Critically examining tourism and employment. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27(7), 1008–1025. UNWTO. (2020). Tourism in the 2030 agenda. Retrieved from Vanselow, A., Warhurst, C., Bernhardt, A., & Dresser, L. (2010). Working at the wage floor: Hotel room attendants and labor market institutions in Europe and the United States. In G. Gautie & J. Schmitt (Eds.), Low-wage work in the wealthy world. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation. Warhurst, C., Lloyd, C., & Dutton, E. (2008). The National Minimum Wage, low pay and the UK hotel industry. Sociology, 42(6), 1228–1236. Winchenbach, A., Hanna, P., & Miller, G. (2019). Rethinking decent work: The value of dignity in tourism employment. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27(7), 1026–1043. World Bank. (2017). Yearbook of tourism statistics, compendium of tourism statistics and data files. Madrid: World Tourism Organization.

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Chapter 11

Epilogue – Preparing for the ‘New Normal’ By the Editors – Mark Crowder, Marilena Antoniadou, Kevin Albertson and Fiona Christie

Abstract The final chapter acts as an epilogue and captures key themes from the book, concluding with a call to action for a future of work that is decent. Reflecting upon the disruption caused by Covid-19, the chapter highlights the importance of Decent Work for economic recovery and illustrates the value of a Decent Work lens for research about work and working lives. It also summarizes the opportunities for policymakers and employers to make Decent Work a reality for more citizens, whilst also exploring the many challenges and structural barriers that inhibit Decent Work. Keywords: Decent Work; Covid-19; future of work; fairness at work; inequality; employment; trade union

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. L.P. Hartley (1953) “The Go-Between” If, as seems reasonable to hold, the past is a different country, it follows the future will be a different country too – different that is from both the present and the past. It is up to us to make the most of it. We stand on the edge of the frontier of this ‘different country’; it is our and our contributors’ hope that this book will provide a road map to aid us in determining our route. ‘Our route to where?’ you may ask: our route to decency.

Road Signs of the Times At the time of writing, the global economy is badly affected (ostensibly) by the impact of a global pandemic and governments’ socio-political response. Decent Work, 141–145 Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved doi:10.1108/978-1-80117-586-920211011


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Frequently we are assured that, once a new vaccine arrives, things can get back to ‘normal’. However, it is not clear that ‘normal’ is the best to which we might aspire. For better or worse, the pre-Covid-19 economic model may be seen as having lived beyond – by at least a dozen years – its best by date. Change is inevitable; progress is not. In the last four decades, we have had much of the former, but relatively less of the latter. We can no longer afford to rely on further creatively destructive global markets to facilitate human well-being in general and Decent Work in particular. As the key contributors to this book demonstrate, there are a number of key challenges facing Decent Work in this season of change. The economic response to the 2008 global financial crisis – the first sign of a failing global economic model – was hampered by the need also to respond to an increasingly significant environmental crisis. The world economy had not yet come to terms with these two challenges when a second financial crisis was triggered by the global pandemic of Covid-19. On top of these global concerns, we must also consider the turbulent political context in many parts of the world, often triggered by the impact of ecological and economic mismanagement and youth unemployment. It is not at all clear that the future will be ‘decent’ or that it will facilitate ‘decency’ either in general or in the area of employment. The global labour market is in a state of flux, with consequential impacts on employment, working conditions and the mental health of employees and those whom they serve. If we are to experience progress, as opposed to mere change, it is important that Decent Work is at the forefront of policy. Whilst many would agree with this analysis, there is much less consensus on what decency means in practice. The analyses presented in this book not only elucidate the concept of Decent Work but also raise a number of pertinent and highly important socio-economic challenges and opportunities. Our contributors explore the theme of Decent Work from a range of perspectives – those of individuals, teams, organizations, societies and the world as a whole – and in doing so shine a light on many practices and many areas of work that have hitherto been comparatively overlooked by previous studies. This offers a broad scope of the field and facilitates an understanding of how its influence has grown in recent years and how this trend is to continue over the coming decade. The book is divided into three sections, each exploring different aspects of Decent Work. The first helps to define what is Decent Work and sets the concept into context. The second focuses on the opportunities that arise from the application of Decent Work analyses for individuals, organizations and society. Finally, we examine Decent Work from a non-traditional employment perspective, including consideration of gig workers, musicians, tourism and hospitality workers; all of which as precarious employees are subject to seasonality, shift work and a generally uncertain and insecure status. Thus, our contributors have illustrated how the economic crises of the last two decades and the policy responses they prompted (some ill-judged, some less so)

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have increased the disruptive elements of the labour market, leading to precarious jobs in many countries becoming more common in both private and public sectors. Precarious employment is generally characterized by relative job insecurity, reduced social benefits, lower salaries and discontinuities of working time.

Decent Work and Where to Find It It is clear from the Chapter 2, a literature review, that there is no consensus as to what Decent Work is, how it impacts on people and on society or even on who is most affected by it. But, if we are not sure what Decent Work entails, it seems clear we may be sure what is likely to prevent its being realized. Economic disruption is a common theme throughout the book, and the current (at the time of writing) Covid-19 pandemic looms large in many chapters. However, for many these are merely contextual issues that shape and refine particular scenarios. Indeed, Chapters 3 and 7 explore the issue of productivity in different forms and suggest that, to facilitate Decent Work, different agendas must be considered, different, that is, from the past. Rather than a reliance on economic growth to pull our social chestnuts out of the fire, we ought to consider constraints, such as sustainability, ecology and the environment, as opportunities, something which Chapter 6 supports. Despite the ambiguity of the phrase Decent Work, it is gaining in importance as a concept. Organizations and governments seek to use it to gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Ironically, however, it may be that the instrumentalization of the concept of Decent Work, and the adoption of ‘indicators’ as quantitative definitions of decency or otherwise, may undermine its realization. The nebulous, and even contradictory nature, of the different components of Decent Work is a theme that the book returns to again and again. Indeed, one of the key aims of this book is to indicate the contemporary signs of decency. The theme of inequality runs strongly throughout most of the chapters in the book, and this manifests in forms such as class, gender and race. However, a key contribution of this book is the recognition that inequality is more multi-facetted than can be captured by a consideration of these identity categories. Inequality also presents itself in terms of discrepancies in opportunities, incomes, working conditions and access to healthcare, and most importantly, of imbalances in agency and power. Some of the impact of power imbalances on Decent Work is driven by the systemic need of business, which must compete globally by reducing current costs (particularly labour costs) or off-loading costs onto future generations through environmental damage. It is not clear at what point employers have gone (or may go) too far down this road at the expense of the physical and mental health of their employees, their families and society at large. Several chapters suggest that there is, therefore, a need for regulation to address such power imbalances and systemic competitive pressures and, thus, to enshrine good practice in law.


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The material we present in this book seeks to prepare workers and managers for the future by considering how work might evolve in conditions of change and ecological pressure. However, as Chapter 5 observes, the development of regulation and the creation of policies are not likely to be enough by themselves – they need to be supplemented by a change in attitude, an acceptance of change – particularly of material aspirations – and a willingness to adapt both the ends and the means of economic production. To this end, many chapters touched on the impact of unionization and stress its importance in facilitating Decent Work through redressing power imbalances and providing employee stakeholders with agency to tackle pressing social issues and help to reduce inequality. There is, of course, a balance to be struck between progress for all stakeholders: employers and employees; and society as a whole. Therefore, unionization needs to take account of the need for regulation and reducing inequality, but it also needs to be pragmatic and take account of the changing environment in terms of remote working and technology. By studying different countries and different cultures, Chapters 4, 7, 8 and 10 argue that the idea of Decent Work goes far beyond the specific contexts of the pandemic and encompasses general principles that can apply globally. The current pandemic may have highlighted existing indecencies, but it is not necessarily their cause. Indeed, global pandemics and global financial crises may even be symptoms of imbalances, given that their impact falls asymmetrically on those with preexisting socio-economic vulnerabilities. Notwithstanding, different countries face different challenges, and, therefore, responses and actions may vary from state to state. Thus, beyond broadly agreed principles, ‘one size does not fit all’. A further important contribution made by this book is the recognition that Decent Work does not only apply to large, well-established organizations with a long and rich history, as much of the literature suggests. The second part of the book, in particular, demonstrates that issues of fairness and economic and social justice apply equally to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to the non-corporate sectors, such as the self-employed and those in transient or lesspermanent roles in the gig economy. Some of these categories are not mutually exclusive; for instance, the self-employed (Chapter 8) may include musicians (Chapter 9). In these cases, it is possible that the effects are exacerbated by the ambiguous nature of the roles, insecurity of work and pay-related issues. However, Chapter 9 found that there may possibly be counterbalancing mitigating factors in these industries where workers value concepts such as dignity and meaningfulness ahead of remuneration.

Doing the Decent Thing This book has built upon a mixture of empirical studies, workplace case studies and academic theory to draw out a number of key themes that will be of interest to practitioners and academics alike in the area of employment as contextualized by the concept of Decent Work. Managers and aspiring managers will find much

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to engage them and help to guide them through these uncertain times, and employees of all types will be able to use this book to understand and deal with the issues they face during this transition. There are also implications for senior managers and policymakers who may use the material in this book to facilitate progress, rather than mere change. The concept of ‘progress’, of course, implies an accepted ‘end’, and it is in this regard that we propose ‘Decent Work’. We must, however, justify the ‘means’ as well as the ‘ends’ of progress. Hence, we may also consider the development of new approaches and new ways of working within a Decent Work context. Ultimately, this book has focused on the signs of progress as well as warning of inhibitors. Many opportunities for development can arise from Decent Work. Overall, we are excited about this book and look forward to seeing its insights prompting further research and realizations on the ways and means of Decent Work in the years to come. We hope these chapters will inspire future researchers to continue trying to understand what promotes Decent Work across the world, and in turn, what can be done to improve access to Decent Work for all. The future is bright – the future is decent!

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Index Ability–Motivation–Opportunity theory, 79 Academic responses to decent work concept, 16–17 Adequate compensation, 46 Adequate earnings and productive work, 41–42 Ambiguity, 86 Atypical jobs, 7 Australian-based ‘HomeMadeJam. net. au’, 115 Auto-entrepreneur, 102–103 Better Work Programme, 21 Boston-based ‘Groupmuse’, 115 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 113–114 Business growth, entrepreneurship skills for, 85–87 Business strategy, 5–6 Byssinosis, 29–30 Canadian Business Network, 89 Career adaptability, 42–43 development, 5–6 Centralized platforms control, 100 Chartered Association of Business Schools (ABS), 85 Chatbots, 105–106 Chief executive officers (CEOs), 74 Child labour, 41–42 CitySprint, 101–102 Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU), 107 Climate Action, 74 Clockingon’ system, 30

Collective des livreurs autonomes de Paris (CLAP), 107 COLLEEM study, 101 Combining work, family and personal life, 41–42 Conf´ed´eration Française D´emocratique du Travail (CFDT), 106–107 Conf´ed´eration G´en´erale du Travail (CGT), 106–107 Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), 43–44 Continuing theme, 115 Conventional pedagogical approaches, 84 Core labour standards, 14 Corporate social responsibility, 74 Cotton mills, 29–30 Country-level monitoring, 42 Covid-19 pandemic, 3–5, 35, 48, 135 Creative Industries, 114 Critical employment relations approach adopting, 130–131 effects on workers of labour market reforms, 132–134 methods, 131–132 pandemic and hospitality work, 135–136 seasonal employees fare (even) worse, 134–135 Cross-cultural articulations of decent work, 45–47 Cultural political economy, 16 Dark Satanic Mills, 27 to Gilded Age, 29–31



Decent work (DW), 3, 5, 7–8, 12, 41–42, 53–54, 83–85, 114, 142–144 academic responses to decent work concept, 16–17 autonomy, control and voice, 105–106 centre for Decent Work and productivity, 5–6 challenge to, 9–10 decent work vs. ‘good work’ or job quality, 19–20 defining, 122–124 and economic growth, 71 entrepreneurship skills needs and policies, 8–9 entrepreneurship skills review for business growth and, 85–87 equal opportunity policies, 58–62 gender inequality, 55–58 within global value chains, 20–22 historical origins, 12–15 history and future of work, 7–8 implementing, 15 international and integrated sustainability frameworks in, 8 lack of opportunities for training and development, 105 literature review, 7 low pay and long hours, 104–105 measuring employee value and sustainability, 75–79 methodological critique, 17 musicians and, 115–117 opportunities for, 8–9 psychological perspectives, 18–20 public policy on entrepreneurship skills and, 88–91 purpose, aims and intention of chapter, 55 representation and organization, 106–108 review of theories, 55–62 scale development, 8

sustainability and incorporation of, 71–75 Decent Work Agreement, 15 Decent Work Index, 15 Decent Work Scale (DWS), 18, 42–44 access to healthcare subscale, 44–45 challenges of, 44–47 cross-cultural articulations of decent work, 45–47 further developments of, 47 limitations, 47–48 psychological perspective on decent work, 42–43 Decent working time, 41–42 Deliveroo, 101–102 Democracy, 34 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), 115 Digital platform work. See also Good work dimensions of decent work, 104–105 mapping platform work in France and United Kingdom, 101–102 Quandry of platform worker classification, 102–104 Diversity, 5–6 Domestic services, 100 Economic(s), 5–6 activity, 102–103 crisis, 130 disruption, 143 growth, 34 growth in hospitality industry, 129–130 measures, 84 nudges, 105–106 shocks, 48 Education choices, 57 Emerging Leaders Executive-Level Development Programme Employee, 70, 102–104 value, 69–70 value and sustainability, 75–79 voice, 43

Index Employers, 41–42, 133–134 Employment. See also Job, 5, 99–100 contract types, 43 creation, 41–42 opportunities, 41–42 relationship in Greek hospitality industry, 136 Entrepreneurial educational attainment, 87 Entrepreneurial networks, 87 Entrepreneurs, 84–85, 90 Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Programme (EIP), 89 Entrepreneurship, 5–6 entrepreneurship skills review for business growth and decent work, 85–87 methodology, 85 public policy on entrepreneurship skills and decent work, 88–91 skills, 83–84 ventures, 85 Equal opportunity business case and moral case, 60–61 equal opportunity polices impact on range of outcomes, 61–62 policies, 58–62 policies impact on range of outcomes, 61–62 possible contextual influences, 62 sameness and difference, 59–60 and treatment in employment, 41–42 Equal Pay Act (1970), 53–55 Equality, 5–6 Equality Act 2010 (EqA), 53–54, 58 European Union (EU), 17 Exploratory factor analysis (EFA), 43–44 Factory Act (1833), 30 Finance-first’ models, 70–71 Financial Capital, 75, 79 Food delivery services, 101–102 Force Ouvri`ere (FO), 106–107


France, mapping platform work in, 101–102 Freelancing platforms, 100–102 French employment policy, 103 Frequently asked question (FAQ), 105–106 Full employment, 53–54 Futurpreneur Canada, 89–90 Gender inequality, 55–58 differences in education choices, 57 human capital theory, 55–56 monopsony, 57–58 social value of roles, 58 Gender pay gap, 54–55, 57 General Social Survey (GSS), 43 Gig economy, 5, 113–114 Gilded Age, from Dark Satanic Mills to, 29–31 Global economy, 141–142 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), 85 Global production networks (GPNs), 12 Global RepTrak 100 Report (2016), 74 Global value chains (GVCs), 12 decent work within, 20–22 Good work, 43 decent work vs., 19–20 Greek tourism industry, 131–132 Gross domestic product (GDP), 13, 115, 129–130 Health and well-being, 43 Human capital, 75–76, 79 theory, 55–56 Human resource management, 5–6 Hyper-outsourcing of labour, 100 Ideological theory, 35 Independent worker, 102–103 Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), 107 Indie music, 117–118 Individualized Learning Accounts (ILAs), 105



Industrial revolution, 27 origins and evolution of work from stone age to, 28–29 Industrial Workers of World (IWW), 107 Inequality, 54–55, 143 Insurance policy, 31–32 Integrated Reporting (IR), 70 Integrated sustainability frameworks, 8 International Integrated Reporting Council model (IIRC model), 76–77 International Integrated Reporting Framework (I,IR.F), 77–79 International Labour Organization (ILO), 12, 31–32, 41–42, 115–116 decent work agenda context, 13–15 International sustainability frameworks, 8 International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), 73–74 Internationalization, 129–130 Jazz music, 117–118 Job decent work vs. job quality, 19–20 design, 43 quality, 43 Labour force, 99–100 Labour market, 3–4 effects on workers of, 132–134 reforms, 129–130 Latent profile analysis (LPA), 47 Liberal approach, 59–60 Macro-level measures of decent work, 41–42 Manufactured Capital, 75 Mapping platform work in France and United Kingdom, 101–102 Marginalization, 43 Marketization, 5

Masters and Servants Act (1823), 30 Mechanization, 30 in textile processing, 29 Micro-work platforms, 100–102 Modern World (1918–1979), 31–33 Monopsony, 57–58 Music Creators, 115 Musical styles, 117–118 Musicians Union (MU), 114, 118, 120 Musicians work, 113–115 defining decent work, 122–124 findings, 118–124 methods, 117–118 musicians and decent work, 115–117 musicians union, 118–120 networks of trust in securing work, 120–122 Natural capital, 76 Neo-classical human capital theory, 55–56 Neo-liberal globalization, 14 Neo-liberalism, 27–28, 34–35, 48 Networking, 87 New Normal, preparing for decent thing, 144–145 decent work, 143–144 road signs of times, 141–143 Non-corporate sectors, 144 Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 76–77 Non-salari´e, 102–103 Office for National Statistics (ONS), 115 One-time contractual engagement, 113–114 Online platforms, 99–100 Opportunity recognition, 86–87 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 12, 85, 87 Organizational behaviour, 5–6 Ownership of land, 28

Index Paid employment, 3 Pandemic and hospitality work, 135–136 Parlourgigs. com, 115 Pay and benefits, 43 Peace Conference, 31–32 PeoplePerHour, 101–102 Platform work, 106 Polachek’s theory, 55–56 Political Corporate Social Responsibility (P-CSR), 74 Pop music, 117–118 Post Covid-19, 35–36 Pre-Covid-19 economic model, 141–142 Precarity of work, 14 Privatization, 5 Productive employment, 53–54 Productivity, 5 centre for Decent Work and, 5–6 Progress, 145 Psychological theory, 18 Psychology of Working Framework (PWF), 42 Psychology of Working Theory (PWT), 18, 42 Public policy on entrepreneurship skills and decent work, 88–91 Quality of employment, 84 Quality of work, 84 Quandry of platform worker classification, 102–104 Radical approach, 59–60 Rights at work, 41–42 Rock music, 117–118 Russian Revolution, 31–32 Safe work environment, 41–42 Salari´e, 102–103 San Diego start-up ‘GigTown’, 115 Seasonal employees fare (even) worse, 134–135 Security of work, 41–42


Self-employed creative industries workers, 115 Self-employee, 103–104 Self-employment, 3 Self-learning algorithms, 105–106 Servicing model, 106–107 Sex, 58–59 segregation, 58 Skills, 86 Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 6, 84, 144 Small Business Administration (SBA), 89 Social Capital, 75, 79 Social dialogue, 41–42, 118 Social protection, 41–42 Social security, 41–42 Social value of roles, 58 Socio-economic status, 43 Stability of work, 41–42 Sustainability, 70 of decent work, 71–75 Sustainability Goals (2030), 115–116 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 13, 53–54, 70–71, 85 SDG 8, 71–73 SDG 13, 74 TaskRabbit, 100–102 Taylorism, 34 Time for money, 3 Time for resources, 3 Total Impact Measuring and Management Framework, 77–78 Trade unions, 118 movement, 31–32 Traditional renewal strategies, 106–107 Trust networks in securing work, 120–122 Uber Eats, 101–102 Unemployment. See also Employment, 32 United Kingdom (UK)



mapping platform work in, 101–102 UK Music, 114 UK-based ‘Encore Musicians’, 115 United Nations (UN), 13, 70, 85 Upwork, 101–102 US Office for Entrepreneurship Education (OEE), 89 Washington Consensus, 35 Web-based platforms, 115 Work, 3, 99–100 from Dark Satanic Mills to Gilded Age, 29–31 future, 35–36 meaning of, 116

Modern World, 31–33 origins and evolution from stone age to industrial revolution, 28–29 relationships, 43 rerun of history, 33–35 stability of, 41–42 volition, 42–43 work–life balance, 43 ‘Work Not Play’ campaign, 114 Worker(s), 103–104, 131 effects on workers of labour market reforms, 132–134 Working lives, 8