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Can overtime premium flexibility promote employment? Firm- and worker-level evidence from a labour law reform

Listed author(s):
  • Pedro S. Martins

In 2012, in the midst of a recession, a labour law reform in Portugal allowed firms to reduce the overtime premium paid to their workers by 50% or more. Until then, overtime premiums were set by law at a relatively high level and could not be cut unilaterally. We analyse matched employer-employee panel data, including worker-level base and overtime hours and pay, to shed light on the effects of the resulting greater flexibility in overtime pay setting. We find that half of the firms using overtime in 2011 did reduce their overtime premiums in a manner consistent with the reform, in particular those firms making greater use of overtime and paying higher premiums. Moreover, using difference-in-differences matching and a long list of covariates, we find that those firms that cut overtime premiums exhibit significant relative increases in overtime usage, employment and sales following the reform. Overall, our results highlight the important but not exclusive role of legal restrictions behind downward nominal pay rigidity. Our findings also suggest a significant potential of overtime pay flexibility to promote employment, even during a downturn.

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File URL: http://webspace.qmul.ac.uk/pmartins/CGRWP72.pdf
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Paper provided by Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research in its series Working Papers with number 72.

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Date of creation: Aug 2016
Handle: RePEc:cgs:wpaper:72
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  1. Dickens, William T. & Götte, Lorenz & Groshen, Erica L. & Holden, Steinar & Messina, Julián & Schweitzer, Mark E. & Turunen, Jarkko & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie, 2006. "How wages change: micro evidence from the International Wage Flexibility Project," Working Paper Series 0697, European Central Bank.
  2. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra E. Todd, 1997. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 605-654.
  3. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & John Van Reenen, 2004. "Evaluating the Employment Impact of a Mandatory Job Search Program," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 569-606, 06.
  4. Jennifer Hunt, 1999. "Has Work-Sharing Worked in Germany?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 117-148.
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  6. Jan Babecký & Philip Du Caju & Theodora Kosma & Martina Lawless & Julián Messina & Tairi Rõõm, 2010. "Downward Nominal and Real Wage Rigidity: Survey Evidence from European Firms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(4), pages 884-910, December.
  7. Stephen J. Trejo, 2003. "Does the Statutory Overtime Premium Discourage Long Workweeks?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 530-551, April.
  8. Pedro S. Martins & Sofia Pessoa e Costa, 2014. "Reemployment and Substitution Effects from Increased Activation: Evidence from Times of Crisis," FEUNL Working Paper Series wp590, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
  9. Michael W. L. Elsby, 2005. "Evaluating the economic significance of downward nominal wage rigidity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19882, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  10. Pedro S. Martins, 2014. "30,000 Minimum Wages: The Economic Effects of Collective Bargaining Extensions," FEUNL Working Paper Series wp589, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
  11. Babecký, Jan & Du Caju, Philip & Kosma, Theodora & Lawless, Martina & Messina, Julián & Rõõm, Tairi, 2012. "How do European firms adjust their labour costs when nominal wages are rigid?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 792-801.
  12. Aedin Doris & Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman, 2013. "Wage Flexibility and the Great Recession: The Response of the Irish Labour Market," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n244-13.pdf, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  13. Fehr, Ernst & Goette, Lorenz, 2005. "Robustness and real consequences of nominal wage rigidity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 779-804, May.
  14. Pedro S. Martins & Sofia Pessoa e Costa, 2014. "Reemployment effects from increased activation: Evidence from times of crisis," Working Papers 52, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
  15. Crépon, Bruno & Kramarz, Francis, 2000. "Employed 40 Hours or Not Employed 39: Lessons from the 1982 Mandatory Reduction of the Workweek," CEPR Discussion Papers 2358, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra Todd, 1998. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 261-294.
  17. Pedro S. Martins, 2016. "Should the maximum duration of fixed-term contracts increase in recessions? Evidence from a law reform," Working Papers 73, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
  18. Anabela Carneiro & Pedro Portugal & Jose Varejao, 2013. "Catastrophic job destruction during the Portuguese economic crisis," Special Conference Papers 24, Bank of Greece.
  19. Matthieu Chemin & Etienne Wasmer, 2009. "Using Alsace-Moselle Local Laws to Build a Difference-in-Differences Estimation Strategy of the Employment Effects of the 35-Hour Workweek Regulation in France," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(4), pages 487-524, October.
  20. Bauer, Thomas & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 1999. "Overtime Work and Overtime Compensation in Germany," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 46(4), pages 419-436, September.
  21. Pierre Cahuc & Stéphane Carcillo, 2014. "The Detaxation of Overtime Hours: Lessons from the French Experiment," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/1aeo7h7o569, Sciences Po.
  22. Hijzen, Alexander & Martins, Pedro S. & Schank, Thorsten & Upward, Richard, 2013. "Foreign-owned firms around the world: A comparative analysis of wages and employment at the micro-level," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 170-188.
  23. Pedro Martins & Andy Snell & Jonathan P. Thomas, 2010. "Downward Wage Rigidity in a Model of Equal Treatment Contracting," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(4), pages 841-863, December.
  24. David N. F. Bell & Robert A. Hart, 2003. "Wages, Hours, and Overtime Premia: Evidence from the British Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 470-480, April.
  25. Hart,Robert A., 2004. "The Economics of Overtime Working," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521801423, December.
  26. Pedro S. Martins & Gary Solon & Jonathan P. Thomas, 2012. "Measuring What Employers Do about Entry Wages over the Business Cycle: A New Approach," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 36-55, October.
  27. Olivier Blanchard, 2007. "Adjustment within the euro. The difficult case of Portugal," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21, April.
  28. Pedro Portugal & Fernando Martins, 2014. "Wage adjustments during a severe economic downturn," Economic Bulletin and Financial Stability Report Articles, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
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