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No stable jobs

May 19, 2015

Only a quarter of all workers worldwide have stable employment contracts, leading to growing job insecurity as well as increased inequality, says a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

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Image: picture-alliance/C. Mohr

The ILO's 2015 World Employment Social Outlook Report titled "The Changing Nature of Jobs," released on Tuesday, revealed a clear shift away from reliable full-time jobs, as short-term contracts and irregular hours become more widespread.

The report, covering more than 180 countries and 84 percent of the global workforce, said that three quarters of workers across the world are employed on temporary or short-term contracts, held informal jobs often without any contract, or were in unpaid family jobs.

Globally, over 60 per cent of all workers lacked any kind of employment contract. And even among workers who earn salaries, only 42 percent had permanent contracts, the report noted.

Growing insecurity

ILO chief Guy Ryder said that in some cases, non-standard forms of work could help people get a foothold in the job market. However, he also warned that they were causing "widespread insecurity" among workers worldwide.

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The number of women working part-time is on the rise, says ILOImage: iStock

Another current trend is the rise in part-time employment, especially among women. At the same time, many of the world's workers find themselves in dire poverty, with nearly a quarter of them last year living with their families on less than $2 a day.

There were also wide regional variations in terms of solid contract-bound employment with the figure standing at around 80 percent in developed economies and central and southeastern Europe, but falling to about 20 percent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The rest were self-employed or engaged in family jobs.

The report also finds that despite the positive steps made towards improving pension coverage, social protection, such as unemployment benefits, is still mainly available only for regular employees.

'Vicious circle'

"The shift we're seeing from the traditional employment relationship to more non-standard forms of employment is in many cases associated with the rise in inequality and poverty rates in many countries," said Ryder.

"What's more, these trends risk perpetuating the vicious circle of weak global demand and slow job creation that has characterized the global economy and many labor markets throughout the post-crisis period."

Ryder called on governments worldwide to design policies aimed at boosting job creation and productivity, while ensuring adequate income security to all types of workers, not just those on stable contracts.

Global employment growth has meanwhile stalled at around 1.4 percent annually since 2011, down from 1.7 percent on average between 2000 and 2007, the report said.

sri/hg (AFP, ILO)