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Innovative and flexible approaches to working time

The Institute for Law and Economics o Carlos III University of Madrid (IUDEC) coordinates the internationa resaearch project INNOVAWORKING:  Innovative and flexible approaches to working time.

This project aims to investigate and analyse innovative policies on working time arrangements that have been negotiated between trade unions and employers both in the public and private sector. The research will assess innovative agreements that provide for shorter or flexible working time, also covering hybrid and remote working practices. To what extent those innovative agreements contribute to a better work-life balance will be central to the research. These may take in a wide range of initiatives that could include changes to shift work, annual leave and other new approaches to the organisation of working time. It will also examine trade unions and employers’ responses to any trends towards longer hours and problems created by zero-hour or low-hour contracts.

The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the introduction of digitalisation, the impact of an ageing workforce and the need for urgent action to tackle climate change pose major challenges for companies and their employees (or workers). Trade unions and employers also need to address the potential threats and exploit the opportunities that they face concerning those challenges. Innovative changes to the organisation of working time can be part of the solution, potentially delivering increased productivity, improved work-life balance and well-being, more sustainable working practices and greater flexibility to the benefit of both workers and employers.

The project INNOVAWORKING follows the general objective of this call to promote analysis and research on industrial relations, at EU level as well as in comparative terms, by identifying convergences and differences in how the industrial relations systems in place in several EU Member States are addressing new forms of organising working time. The project aims at promoting exchange of information and experience among the parties actively involved in industrial relations on negotiating innovative and flexible work arrangements. The planned project events and dissemination activities will contribute to promoting awareness of effective industrial relations practices in Europe. Moreover, the project research will contribute to further deepen the analysis on the topics of the adaptation of established labour market regulatory frameworks to technological transformation, global competition forces, and demographic change to ensure adequate protection for workers that were addressed by the European Commission in the ESDE Reports.This project aims to explore these themes and examine new approaches to working time arrangements in private companies and in the public sector. It will look in detail at why and how trade unions and employers have managed to negotiate innovative working practices, particularly shorter working time patterns, and so provide examples which could be adapted and adopted by trade unions and employers across the sectors.

Demographic change will bring a shift in the age profile of workplaces and initiatives are being taken to encourage older workers to stay longer in employment. Reduced working time schemes can play a role here raising questions about their impact and the age groups entitled to such benefits. 

In addition, new forms of work and growing outsourcing practices may be encouraging more flexible approaches such as the use of zero-hour contracts and the contracting of services provided by platform workers. However, more long-standing patterns of non-standard work, above all part-time  and fixed-term work, can be found across public services and companies in several sectors, raising questions about who benefits from these work patterns. 

 

The focus of the project can be summarized in the following research objectives:

  • To contribute to advancing the state of the art and knowledge on innovative practices regarding the organisation of work.¬†
  • Identify bench-marking and exchanging good practices in collective bargaining to negotiate reduction of working time and flexible working arrangements in the EU.¬†
  • To improve expertise and knowledge on industrial relations at European and national level.
 
  1. Literature review
  2. Short 6 case study fiches 
  3. Case study reports: covering 6 case studies 
  4. Comparative overview report 
  5. Policy paper/executive summary (translated to the languages of the countries under study)

Coordination

1. UNIVERSIDAD CARLOS III DE MADRID (UC3M), Spain.

Partners

2. TAMPEREEN KORKEAKOULUSAATIO SR (TAU),  Finland- 

3. EOTVOS LORAND TUDOMANYEGYETEM (ELTE),  Hungary- 

4. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, DUBLIN, Ireland- 

5. FUNDACION CULTURAL PRIMERO DE MAYO (F1M),  Spain. 

6. UNION GENERAL DE TRABAJADORAS Y TRABAJADORES DE ESPA√ĎA (UGT),¬†Spain.

Associated Partner

7.CONFEDERATION EUROPEENNE DES SYNDICATSETUC)

Project Coordination

Disclaimer and funding acknowledgement

Ana B.
Mu√Īoz Ruiz

Coordination and research

abmunoz@der-pr.uc3m.es

Jes√ļs R.
Mercader Uguina

Research

jmercarde@der-pr.uc3m.es

Francisco J.
Gómez Abelleira

Research

fjgomez@der-pr.uc3m.es

Pablo
Gimeno Díaz de Atauri

Research

pgimeno@der-pr.uc3m.es

Lourdes
S√°nchez- Galindo M√°s

Research

loursanch@der-pr.uc3m.es

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.