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Job Loss and the Fraying of the Implicit Employment Contract

Author

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  • Kevin F. Hallock

Abstract

Most workers have one employment contract that is explicit and another one that is implicit. The explicit employment contract specifies working hours, compensation, and job tasks. The implicit contract involves expectations about the extent to which the employment relationship is likely to continue over time. Will the firms will seek to avoid mass layoffs unless or until absolutely necessary? Will firms cushion the wages and compensation of employees to some extent from broad swings in the economy? Will employees show some degree of loyalty to the firm? This paper will argue that, along a number of dimensions, the nature of the worker-firm employment relationship may have changed substantially in recent years -- a group of changes that as a whole have negatively affected the lives of workers and produced modest, if any, benefits for firms. If employers have become less involved with cushioning the blow of unemployment and avoiding layoffs where possible, then public policy might have a role to play in spreading the burden of a down labor market so that the burden is not borne so heavily by those who lose their jobs entirely.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin F. Hallock, 2009. "Job Loss and the Fraying of the Implicit Employment Contract," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 69-93, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:23:y:2009:i:4:p:69-93
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.23.4.69
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.23.4.69
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Juan Elegido, 2013. "Does It Make Sense to Be a Loyal Employee?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 116(3), pages 495-511, September.
    2. Bratsberg, Bernt & Fevang, Elisabeth & Røed, Knut, 2010. "Disability in the Welfare State: An Unemployment Problem in Disguise?," IZA Discussion Papers 4897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Bratsberg, Bernt & Fevang, Elisabeth & Røed, Knut, 2013. "Job loss and disability insurance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 137-150.
    4. Gary Slater & David A. Spencer, 2014. "Workplace relations, unemployment and finance-dominated capitalism," Review of Keynesian Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 2(2), pages 134-146, April.
    5. Keisuke Kawata, 2013. "Capital market integration and optimal employment protection policies," IDEC DP2 Series 3-9, Hiroshima University, Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC).
    6. Jaap Oude Mulders & Hendrik Dalen & Kène Henkens & Joop Schippers, 2014. "How Likely are Employers to Rehire Older Workers After Mandatory Retirement? A Vignette Study Among Managers," De Economist, Springer, vol. 162(4), pages 415-431, December.
    7. Parsons, Donald O., 2011. "Double-Sided Moral Hazard in Job Displacement Insurance Contracts," IZA Discussion Papers 6003, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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