Working life has changed at an increasing pace during the last few years. This change includes work methods, ways of how work is organized, and the professions themselves. This rapid breakdown includes several reasons: the development of technology has raised the requirements for worker’s expertise so much that the skills of some people in their working years are no longer sufficient on open work markets. Additionally, industrial work has become less prominent, while nearly seven employees out of ten work in the services. Industrial production has, to some degree, been transferred to other countries, but a larger reason to industrial work being reduced is the increase in the productivity of work – meaning less employees are needed. New jobs are thus created, on one hand, for services professions with low wages and lousy employment terms and, on the other hand, in demanding expert tasks.
The nature of work conditions is also changed by digitalization, which sets more and more work outside the sphere wage economy. Instead of common employment contracts, people increasingly work as self-employed persons, entrepreneurs or between different ways of work. This change of labour patterns also alters the conditions of labour markets to suit zero-hour contracts, rent and gig labour and part-time work contracts. Currently, approximately two out of three of employed persons work in continuous full-time employment. The share of those employed in atypical work relations is constantly growing.
In the midst of this change we wish to ensure that working life becomes more fair, equal and relaxed. The changing working conditions are the most important factor in the process of the changing of the working life. Legislation must be updated to answer the changes of work and must take into account the attributes of atypical work relationships and self-employed persons.
We believe that working life becomes more efficient and productivity is improved by investing in conditions of work and flexible working time arrangements, not lengthening working hours or cutting from vacations. The costs of work-related mental disorders are estimated to be as many as tens of millions of euros per year for society. Investing in work welfare is thus sustainable, both regarding human and economic costs.