One in eleven employees work flexible hours

30/09/2008 15:00

In 2007, one in eleven (575 thousand) workers in the employed labour force worked flexible hours. The share of flex workers has risen since 2003 after years of decline, but the high level of the late 1990s has as yet not been reached. Flexible jobs are mainly temp jobs and holiday jobs filled by young people.

Fewer differences between men and women

Traditionally, more women than men work flexible hours. The differences between men and women have been reduced substantially over the past decade as the share of female flex workers declined dramatically between 1998 and 2003. The share of male flex workers also dropped, but to a lesser degree. After 2003, the share of flex workers rose at the same rate for both genders.

The decline in the share of flexible workers after 1999 is mainly caused by legislation change. In 2000, the Working Hours Adjustment Act (WAA) was introduced. The WAA enabled people to opt for part-time employment. Women could continue to work on a part-time basis after the birth of their first child without jeopardising their permanent labour contract rights. In the past, women often gave up their jobs. When they re-entered the labour market, they were often forced to accept flexible contract terms. 

Share of 15 to 65-year-old employees working on flexible contracts

Share of 15 to 65-year-old employees working on flexible contracts

Flexible workers often young and poorly educated

Flexible workers are mostly young. One in three working people aged between 15 and 25 are flex workers, often pupils and students working alongside their studies to supplement their incomes. Lower educated people more often work flexible hours than higher educated. Working flexible hours is also more common among people with a non-western background than among native Dutch.

Share of flexible workers by gender, age, education level and ethnic background, 2007

Share of flexible workers by gender, age, education level and ethnic background, 2007

More flexible jobs available in summer

The seasonal pattern in flexible employment is entirely accounted for by young people in the 15-25 age category, mostly pupils and students active in short-hour jobs during the summer. The seasonal pattern does not apply to older flex workers.

Number of 15 to 65-year-old flexible workers by age

Number of 15 to 65-year-old flexible workers by age

Ilona Bouhuijs and Clemens Siermann