How typical are "a-typical" employment contracts? An organizational perspective
The paper presents an organizational analysis of so-called 'atypical work contracts', the purpose being to gain better understanding of their variety and to provide useful indications for their assessment, considering not only the legal alternatives but also the organization of work. Exploratory research was conducted on two groups of Italian workers (flexible and permanent) and a group of firms. The Italian labour market has recently undergone a reform which introduced a number of flexible contracts, and it is therefore a good context for analyzing the use of these employment arrangements. Workers were requested to describe their 'ideal employment contract', ranking its characteristics and comparing it with their actual contract. At the same time, we interviewed a group of HR managers, asking them to make a similar evaluation. The results show that different legal contracts are sometimes used for jobs with the same contents. Hence, the 'atypical features' of some contracts are not confirmed in practice, and the choice of a flexible employment relationship appears to be the result of a complex evaluation, in which the contractual form is just one (but not the most important) element. Then identified are some 'critical' areas to be considered in designing effective employment relationships (flexibility; contract architecture; risk allocation).
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