Flexicurity In Labor Law

I. What is Flexicurity in Labor Law?

Flexicurity, a combination of the concept of flexibility and security, was created to provide support against the labor market problems that emerging economies face as a result of globalization. A win-win situation is desired by fulfilling the employers demand for more flexibility and the workers demand for more safety. An attempt is made to strike a balance between the demands of employers and workers.

In the study published by the European Commission to determine the common principles of safe flexicurity, the topic of flexicurity has been handled in detail.  This concept comprises of two main elements joined against the threats posed by globalization. Flexicurity can be identified as; the employment, income and ‘combination’ security bringing workers with relatively weak labor market attachment back into the labor market which will improve their careers and prevent social exclusion, and the numerical (internal and external) functional and wage flexibility that will provide the means for adequate adaptation of businesses to changing conditions, and protection of competitiveness and productivity that will provide further development.

A. External Numerical Flexibility

External numerical flexibility is defined as the ease of adjustment of the number of workers in line with the employer’s needs. It can be defined as the freedom to determine the quantity and quality of the workforce to be used by businesses according to the demand in the market and new production techniques under the changing eceonomic and technological conditions. According to the Turkish Labor Law; fixed-term employment, temporary employment and subcontracting is possible for its implementation.

Instead of making a fixed term employment contract, which is employment law contract, the employer has the flexibility with other atypical means such as subcontracting. Numerical flexibility is defined as “the ability of businesses to adapt the amount of workforce they employ depending on the market conditions” by Treu.  It should be accepted that flexible working such as part-time jobs, job sharing, temporary work facilitate and increase the application of numerical flexibility.

The stringent provisions on job security regarding the external numerical flexibility is a much debated subject in the doctrine.  Atypical labor relations and the possibility for the employer to withdraw from the employment contract and capability for employers to adjust their own labor cost with the ability to outsource (subcontract) are regulations that increase external numerical flexibility.

Employment agencies (occupational temporary labor relation), temporary labor contracts, allows employers to adjust the company’s workforce in accordance with the company, industry or economy, and is considered to be the application of external numerical flexibility.

Short time work, which has been applied more frequently in recent years due to seasonal employment and economic difficulties are also seen as external numerical flexibility.

B. Internal Numerical Flexibility

Internal numerical flexibility provides the employer with the opportunity to make changes to the work schedule and working hours without amending the number of workers. By using the external means, the employer can determine the workforce while changing the working hours, and adjust the number of employees in a certain period in order to reduce labor costs. Internal numerical flexibility is the functional use of the present workforce.

Procedures that enable internal numerical flexibility are; part-time work, overtime, shift work, night and weekend work, tele-working, job sharing, on-call work, equalization and paid or unpaid leave.

II. What are Flexible Working Models?

Flexible working models are: fixed term contract, part-time work (short), on-call work, compressed work week, working from home, tele-working, shift work, overtime, flexible working hours, job sharing, compensatory work, temporary labor relations, parental leave, maternity leave, care leave,  career (sabbatical) leave, early retirement, gradual retirement.

III. Assurances

It is important to achieve a balance between security and flexibility. This can be achieved by bringing an increasing number of workers back into the labor force, providing income, job, employment and combination security that will enable career development and prevent social exclusion, while increased productivity in companies, keeping up with changing conditions and ability to compete in the market can be achieved by providing assurance of numerical, wage and functional flexibility.

The mentioned flexibility and security concepts are based on a matrix issued in the studies conducted by Wilthagen and Tros in 2004. Assurances provided in this matrix are; job security, employment security, income security and ‘combination’ security.  The combination of the four assurances and the four flexibilities creates the Wilthagen flexicurity matrix which is the basis of the current flexicurity idea.

Job security; the certainty of retaining a specific job with the same employer,

Employment security; the certainty of staying employed without the obligation to work at a particular employer,

Income security; certainty of receiving a stable level of income in the event of accident, illness, unemployment etc. even if the paid work is terminated,

Combination security; including work with the private life and social activities of the worker means the assurance of combining work with other social responsibilities and obligations.

The EU (European Union) has adopted a solution to the employment problem in line with the flexicurity approaches, which is the basis chosen to make the labor market more flexible. In the Lisbon strategy presented to the EU Commission, flexicurity is seen as a tool to create a labor market based on healthy competition. This is based on four principles:

  1. Active employment policy measures as a means for the workforce to keep up with the rapid changes in the labor market and for the workers to change jobs,
  2. The importance of lifelong learning in order to increase the qualifications of workers and increase productivity,
  3. Advanced social security system,
  4. In arranging the business relationship between the employer and the worker, legally fixed term contracts should be accepted.

Albeit the concept of flexicurity in the Turkish Legal literature is new and uncommon, it is a supported and developing concept that is accepted both in Turkey and the world.

Labor relations are changing in framework of increased competition in labor markets, the changes to working methods and the demands on efficient labor by the employer and employees as a result of globalization. Legislative regulations also have to keep up with this change. We believe that the implementation of flexicurity, which strikes a balance between the demands of the employer and employee, will spread with every passing day.

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