Need for companies to address non-standard employment risks

REPORT | 22 December 2017

Employment forms that do not provide full-time and permanent employment are increasingly used by companies to secure flexibility in their workforces. The trend risks having negative effects on workers in terms of employment insecurity, unequal wages and infringed union rights – especially in countries with weak legislation or social security. In a new report, Swedwatch seeks to address companies’ responsibility to handle these challenges, as well as to provide a basis for dialogue concerning the fulfilment of SDG 8.

Over recent decades, the use of non-standard forms of employment has increased in several parts of the world. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), this type of jobs is associated with several risks, including job and income insecurity, unfair wages and limited possibility to join unions or influence working situations.

As a basis for discussions regarding the Sustainable Development Goals – in particular Goal 8 regarding decent work and sustainable economic growth – Swedwatch has developed a report relevant for companies active in sectors and regions where non-standard forms of employment are common.

The report is based on a case study from India, where many Swedish and multinational companies are active. India is expected to house the largest workforce in the world by 2026, and its labour market faces extensive challenges. According to the ILO, the country has witnessed a significant increase of the use of non-standard employment over the last decades, particularly in the use of contract labour.

During a brief field study, Swedwatch was provided with the opportunity to interview local management, union representatives and workers with different forms of employment at two of Volvo Group’s factories in Bangalore, India. The study discusses the interviewees’ different experiences and views of salary levels and working conditions for permanent and temporary employees.

In accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the study calls on companies to act responsibly in identifying, mitigating and managing risks associated with the use of non-standard forms of employment. To properly address these challenges and to fulfil the global goal of decent work and inclusive growth, cooperation between private stakeholders, civil society and states is necessary, the study concludes.