Making consistent use of the opportunities offered by flexible forms of employment

Flexible forms of employment such as temporary work, fixed-term contracts, part-time work and mini-jobs have made a decisive contribution to the strong increase in employment in recent years. They are indispensable components of a balanced overall package for more labour market dynamism as a whole. In many cases, they make it easier to get into work and offer new employment prospects, especially for the low-skilled and the long-term unemployed.

The complaint about the alleged decline of the so-called "normal employment relationship" is false and misleading. It obscures the view of the great successes achieved in recent years at. Since 2006, the number of dependent employees in a "normal employment relationship" has risen by over 4.5 million to 27 million. Flexible employment, on the other hand, has actually fallen by 250,000 to 7.3 million in the same period (source: ). It was mainly through flexible forms of employment that many people managed to (re-)enter the labour market quickly during the economic upswing following the severe financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009. The deregulation of flexible forms of employment was an essential prerequisite for the fact that more people in Germany are in gainful employment today than ever before. Against the background of the Corona pandemic, it is all the more important to maintain flexible forms of employment and not to regulate them.
Flexible forms of employment create additional opportunities
Flexible forms of employment are above all an expression of increased flexibility requirements in companies. The result of greater regulation would not be more "normal employment relationships", but fewer employment opportunities for all. Flexible forms of employment - above all temporary work - often prove to be a stepping stone to employment, especially for people who have a hard time on the labour market: From May 2018 to April 2019, according to the Federal Employment Agency, every sixth unemployed person who took up employment subject to social security contributions found it in temporary employment. For people who were previously long-term unemployed or had never been employed, as many as one in four took up employment in temporary work. lowers the barriers to entry, especially for younger people. At the same time, they offer longer-term employment prospects, since almost three quarters of those initially employed on a fixed-term basis obtain a follow-up job. In addition, flexible forms of employment often meet the needs of many employees that deviate from the "normal employment relationship". This is particularly true of part-time work. Part-time work is more often than not taken up by parents for whom a full-time job is often not an option for reconciling work and family life because of the persistent lack of childcare facilities to meet their needs. Ultimately, the aim must be to facilitate transitions between forms of employment and to increase employment opportunities. In its annual report for 2018/2019, the German Council of Economic Experts rightly emphasised once again how important flexible forms of employment are, particularly for people entering the labour market, and that further restrictions on temporary work and should be avoided.
Do not stigmatise flexible forms of employment as "atypical
It is absurd and defamatory to describe flexible forms of employment as "atypical" or even "precarious". This is intended to create the impression that flexible forms of employment do not in principle provide sufficient income. This is unjustified for various reasons: Fixed-term employment or temporary employment relationships in particular also include demanding activities that are well remunerated and improve the employment prospects of many people. Fixed-term employment relationships are prohibited from being treated less favourably than permanent employees. In the case of mini-jobs, which are limited to a monthly wage of €450, or also in the case of part-time employment with a (often freely chosen) low number of hours, it is in the nature of things that an income from work that covers needs cannot be achieved with this. People who are only marginally employed often have other sources of income or are not looking to work in the primary labour market: over 40% of mini-jobbers are pupils, students and pensioners. Over 35 % are housewives and men who supplement their partner's income with their mini-job. In addition to the collective agreements in the temporary employment sector, which apply to almost 100% of the employment relationships in temporary employment, there are now supplementary collective agreements in twelve sectors which ensure appropriate remuneration. The lower wage limit under the Temporary Employment Act additionally stabilizes the entire industry.
Mini-jobs are more flexible and easier to handle than employment relationships subject to social security contributions, as mini-jobs involve less administrative work. The employer only has to register and account for a mini-job at and his employers' liability insurance association. The employer has to pay slightly more than 30% flat-rate contributions for marginally employed persons. Thus, the employer's tax burden is even higher for a mini-job than for an employment relationship subject to social insurance. Nevertheless, marginal employment is more economical for covering production peaks and seasonal requirements.

PDFs and links on the topic

Facts and figures

Theso-called normal employment relationship is on the advance - flexible employment remains constant
This is the percentage of 15-64 year olds in the respective forms of employment (Source: Federal Statistical Office, 2020; Eurostat, 2020, own calculations)

20. November 2023

Flexible employment