EU Member States With The Highest Rates Of Precarious Labor

A march for workers' rights in Lisbon, Portugal. Editorial credit: Pedro Louro /
A march for workers' rights in Lisbon, Portugal. Editorial credit: Pedro Louro /

Precarious labor refers to employment that is non-standard and characterized by poor pay, job insecurity, and can therefore rarely support a household. The employee has no control over the events occurring while on the job since there is no jurisprudence definition of the nature of the contract. In most EU member states, there are no statutory guidelines hence it is difficult for an aggrieved worker to lodge a complaint. Precarious Labor is also referred to as irregular employment, a typical work or unprotected labor.

Rate of Precarious Labor by the EU Countries

Top Six States With The Highest Precarious Jobs

The country with the highest precarious jobs in the EU is Croatia. Statistics indicate that 8.4% of the total workforce is in irregular employment. Most of the jobs are offered on three months contract. France and Spain come second and third at 4.8% and 4.7% respectively. The numbers in France are contributed by entrepreneurs and people hired on fixed term contract. Spain offers apprenticeship with other organizations preferring part time jobs. Unstructured employment in Spain began the 1880s.

Poland and Slovenia with a workforce of 4.5% each follows closely. The two countries are characterized by the availability of short fixed-term contracts which are preferred by employers. The existence of Civil law contracts in Poland, which are engagements not regulated by the labor laws, accelerates precarious labor. At position six is Finland with precariously engaged workforce of 4.4%.

Countries With Below 4%

Sweden, Belgium, Italy, and Portugal are the EU member states with between 3 and 4% rate of precarious employment. Sweden leads the group at 3.7% followed closely by Belgium at 3.5%. At position nine is Italy with 3.2%. Portugal has 3.2% of the workforce in precarious employment. The workers are basically on short-term predetermined contracts or are interns gaining skills and paid a small amount of money.

The European Union states (EU-28) have an average of the precarious labor of 2.3%, the same as the state of Slovakia. Hungary recorded a rate of 2.2% while Denmark and Greece have a recorded a rate 1.9 and 1.6% respectively. The rate is slightly higher than Luxembourg and Latvia which have 1.5% each. Estonia, Malta, Netherlands, and Austria follow each other in that order with Austria at only 1%.

EU Member States With The Lowest Rates Of Precarious Labor

Some countries have a negligible percentage of employees in precarious labor. The percentage of such employees in comparison with the permanent and pensionable employees is below one percent. The countries are Lithuania, Bulgaria, Cyrus, Ireland, and Germany. The bottom three countries at position 27, 28 and 29 respectively are Czech Republic, United Kingdom, and Romania. The three have a percentage of below 0.4%.

Forms Of Precarious Labor

Precarious labor takes the form of part-time jobs, temporary work, on-call jobs, and home-based employment. Most of the jobs are offered on contracts not exceeding three months. The jobs are mainly in the construction industry, manufacturing sector, agriculture, and the service industry. Growth has been promoted by globalization, information technology, and cost cutting on the side of the employer. Benefits like the medical cover, pension schemes, and other allowances are not availed. Entrepreneurs whose turnover is lower than the minimum wage are also a form of precarious labor.

EU Member States With the Highest Rates of Precarious Labor

RankCountryPercentage of Workers in Precarious Jobs
27Czech Republic0.4
28United Kingdom0.4

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