TRABAJO (video OXFAM)

En octubre del 2017, la gente de más 10 países de América Latina y el Caribe filmó su rutina de trabajo. Desde la madrugada hasta el anochecer, se nos revela un mosaico de dificultades cotidianas, aspiraciones y sueños.

 

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Innovation and the future of work

Globalization brings both good and bad job news. The bad news for high-wage developed countries is that jobs will be outsourced into lower-wage locations as soon as the associated economic activity becomes mechanized and predictable. The good news is that globalization creates opportunities that can be realized by people bold enough to transform new ideas and knowledge into innovations. In that way, entrepreneurs will play a vital role in creating the jobs of the future by transforming ideas and knowledge into new products and services, which will require skilled workers and will provide a competitive advantage for advanced economies.

https://wol.iza.org/key-topics/innovation-and-the-future-of-work

Cómo prepararnos para el examen de nuestro retiro

El retiro es uno de los grandes exámenes de nuestras vidas, el momento en el que dejamos de ingresar cada mes lo que estamos acostumbrados a recibir y pasamos a vivir principalmente de nuestra pensión. En muchos países de la región, nuestra pensión (la de quienes consiguen acceder a una) depende de qué tanto logremos ahorrar durante nuestra etapa laboral. Es decir, de nuestro ahorro dependerá qué tanto logremos mantener nuestro estilo de vida y ser independientes.

Nuestro ahorro no solo depende de factores como nuestro ingreso y nuestra cultura financiera, sino también de cuál sea nuestra disposición a ahorrar. La región de América Latina presenta un gran acertijo en este aspecto: la gran mayoría de personas manifiestan que quieren ahorrar para su retiro, pero muy pocos lo hacen. Un ejemplo típico es México, donde el 92% de los jóvenes de entre 20 y 30 años quieren mantener su independencia económica a la hora de jubilarse, pero solamente el 43% cree que su pensión le alcanzará para una buena calidad de vida. Y si nos enfocamos exclusivamente en los trabajadores independientes, no obligados en su gran mayoría a aportar, virtualmente nadie ahorra para su pensión.

La región de América Latina presenta un gran acertijo en este aspecto: la gran mayoría de personas manifiestan que quieren ahorrar para su retiro, pero muy pocos lo hacen.

Cómo pensamos sobre el retiro es parte del problema

Que actuemos de forma diferente a como pensamos se debe a la presencia de sesgos psicológicos. Es así como Richard Thaler, Premio Nobel de Economía en 2017, ha llegado a afirmar que al no ahorrar para nuestro retiro podemos estar siendo irracionales.

Somos irracionales al ser excesivamente impacientes y dejarnos tentar fácilmente por recompensas inmediatas, ahorrar menos por ceder a la presión social, o dejar de ahorrar porque se nos olvida.

Soluciones al reconocer nuestros sesgos

Tener conciencia de un sesgo ayuda a tomar medidas para superar el sesgo y llegar a tener suficiente ahorro para nuestra pensión. Por ejemplo, podemos buscar ahorrar para el retiro de manera automática, eliminando las tentaciones que existen con el dinero en la mano o la nómina. Así, nos podemos inscribir a programas de descuento automático al momento de recibir nuestros ingresos. Además, se puede participar en programas que hagan pequeños cargos al realizar acciones cotidianas —como comprar en el mercado— de tal forma que, de poquito en poquito, se llene el chanchito. ¿Te interesan estas ideas? No te pierdas este video y comienza a ahorrar ya para tu retiro.

Estrategias para ayudarnos a ahorrar más

Las soluciones del ahorro para el retiro no sólo existen al nivel del individuo, sino que también son posibles desde la política pública. La CONSAR de México, por ejemplo, ha desarrollado AforeMóvil, una app que facilita el ahorro para el retiro proveyendo información importante de una manera amigable y abriendo la posibilidad, entre otras, de inscribirse en débitos automáticos. La introducción de tecnologías como AforeMóvil, ganadora del Premio Interamericano a la Innovación Financiera y Empresarial 2017, es sumamente valiosa en una era que cada vez más personas usan teléfonos inteligentes.

En Colombia, Colpensiones viene desarrollando, en asociación con el Laboratorio de Ahorro para el Retiro (un proyecto de la División de Mercados Laborales del BID), una estrategia de recordatorios de mensajes de texto (SMS) para su programa Beneficios Económicos Periódicos (BEPS), un esquema de ahorro voluntario para el retiro para las personas de menores recursos.

Estrategias como las generadas por la CONSAR y Colpensiones pueden ayudar a lograr que, en la región, cada vez más quienes tienen un deseo de ahorrar para su futuro lo lleguen a hacer de forma efectiva.

 

https://blogs.iadb.org/trabajo/2018/01/19/como-prepararnos-para-el-examen-de-nuestro-retiro/

Why is youth unemployment so high and different across countries?

Young people experience worse labor market outcomes than adults worldwide but the difference varies greatly internationally

Elevator pitch

In Germany, young people are no worse off than adults in the labor market, while in southern and eastern European countries, they fare three to four times worse. In Anglo-Saxon countries, both youth and adults fare better than elsewhere, but their unemployment rates fluctuate more over the business cycle. The arrangements developed in each country to help young people gain work experience explain the striking differences in their outcomes. A better understanding of what drives these differences in labor market performance of young workers is essential for policies to be effective

Youth versus adult unemployment rates in
                        OECD countries, 2015

Key findings

Pros

Countries differ dramatically in their ability to generate the work-related competences young people need to succeed in the labor market.

Central European, Anglo-Saxon, and several Asian countries perform better with respect to many youth outcomes.

Recent reforms are reducing cross-country institutional differences; the worst performing countries are learning from the best.

Education systems that integrate more with the labor market, through apprenticeship, job placement services, or direct hiring by firms, seem to setup their youth for success in the labor market.

Cons

In most countries, the ratio of youth to adult unemployment is between two and three; in eastern and southern Europe, young people fare even worse.

Southern and eastern European countries were the hardest hit by the global financial crisis, with youth suffering most.

Temporary work does not solve the youth disadvantage; it helps only the most skilled workers and those in need of general, not job-specific skills.

Author’s main message

In a time of ever increasing educational attainment levels, young people still experience lower employment, income, and participation rates as well as higher unemployment compared to adults. The share of high school and tertiary graduates who accept jobs suited for lower education levels (skills mismatch) is high in many countries. The reason is the low level of work-related competences held by young people. Generating these competences should become a top priority for modern education systems. In addition, labor markets should be more flexible to allow earlier labor market entrance, though they should be wary of becoming over-reliant on the use of temporary contracts.

Motivation

Young people, in nearly every country, experience worse labor market outcomes than adults. However, there are striking differences across countries, with some performing much better than others. The reason behind the worldwide youth disadvantage can be traced back to their lower than average human capital. This may be because some youth drop out of school before achieving at least compulsory education, or because when they do achieve a high secondary or tertiary education level, they miss other key components of human capital, namely general and job-specific work experience. General competences can be acquired through any type of (even short) work experience. However, job-specific competences can be acquired and used only in specific jobs and require long periods of time to accumulate, say several years, depending on the actual professional content of the job. This low level of human capital among young people correlates with, among other things, jobs mismatch, which is the difference between the competences supplied by young people and those that firms require from them.

Discussion of pros and cons

Youth face a variety of challenges in different countries’ labor markets. In which countries do young people perform relatively better or worse in the labor market? Answering this question can provide important insights into the factors that lead to the success or failure of a country’s school-to-work transition (SWT) system. SWT regimes comprise all institutions that impact the education-to-work transition, including the education and training system, labor market regulations, the organization of the welfare state, and family structures. All these factors can have important implications for labor market outcomes of young people. A noteworthy study defines a transition system as “the relatively enduring features of a country’s institutional and structural arrangements which shape transition processes and outcomes” [1].

The youth disadvantage in a given labor market can be assessed using different indicators. The most common is the unemployment rate, namely the share of the workforce that is actively seeking work. Nonetheless, especially in the case of young people, the unemployment rate tells only part of the story. An alternative is to look at the ratio of youth to adult unemployment rates. The former is affected more by the fluctuations of the business cycle than the latter, which more closely mirrors a country’s institutional characteristics and the functionality of its SWT system. OECD countries tend to cluster around similar values of the youth and adult unemployment rates and, hence, also the ratio of the two. The evolution over time of these rates is likewise similar within given groups of countries. Such evolutions are mostly independent of economic conditions and compositional differences in young people’s educational and social backgrounds [2]. This suggests that several countries belong to the same SWT regime.

Following a study from 2015, at least five different SWT regimes can be identified [3]: (i) the north European or Scandinavian model (Finland, Norway, and Sweden); (ii) the continental European model (Austria, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, as well as—in some opinions—Belgium and Denmark); (iii) the Anglo-Saxon model (the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand); (iv) the south European model (Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain); and (v) that of former socialist countries, which include the new EU member states. These SWT regimes overlap with the identification of welfare state regimes—social democratic, conservative, liberal—with the addition of the so-called Latin Rim (southern European countries) [4], and former socialist countries.

Other indicators, such as the employment rate, the rate of inactivity, and the not in education, employment, or training (NEET) rate, are also useful to catch specific aspects of young people’s labor market behavior, but the first two mentioned—the youth unemployment rate and the ratio of the youth to the adult unemployment rate—are the most commonly used.

As shown in the Illustration, young people experience a disadvantage compared to adults in every OECD country. In most countries, the youth unemployment rate is two to three times larger than for adults. Germany and Japan are the only two countries in which young people have nearly the same risk of unemployment as adults. These two countries have experienced the lowest relative disadvantage of young to adult people in their labor markets for decades [3]. In Anglo-Saxon countries (the US, the UK, and Australia, among others), both youth and adults have a relatively low unemployment rate, though the youth rate still exceeds that of adults.

More generally, there is considerable cross-country variation when it comes to youth’s labor market success. For instance, many central European countries (especially Germany, Austria, and Switzerland), Anglo-Saxon ones, and some Asian countries (especially Japan) have lower youth unemployment and inactivity rates, and higher employment rates and earnings than the rest of the EU—especially southern and eastern Europe as well as, to a lesser extent, the Scandinavian countries. This comparison also holds true for a number of Latin American, Central Asian, and African countries.

Important differences have emerged in terms of how young people in different countries have faced the recent global financial crisis. Figure 1 compares groups of countries with similar SWT institutions from 2000 to 2015. The two panels show the youth unemployment rate and the ratio of youth to adult unemployment rates, respectively. The youth unemployment rate (shown in Panel A) has increased during this period in each group of countries. The 2007 financial crisis had a particularly strong impact in the Anglo-Saxon, eastern European, and, above all, the southern European countries. The reason for this vulnerability is probably the greater degree of labor market flexibility in these groups of countries. It should be noted that labor flexibility impacts the entire workforce in Anglo-Saxon countries, but only new hires in the eastern and southern European countries. In these latter two groups, labor flexibility has been achieved only recently through the so-called two-tier reforms, which generally only affect new entrants into the labor market, without changing the contracts of the majority of the existing workforce. These reforms essentially make it more convenient for firms to hire workers on temporary contracts. Temporary contracts, in turn, are the first to be discontinued during economic crises, simply because the easiest way for management to reduce staff numbers is by not renewing temporary contracts upon their natural expiration date. Thanks to this marked increase in temporary contracts, firms find it much easier to apply the so-called last in, first out (LIFO) principle, usually at the expense of young people in particular. According to this principle, when necessary, managers tend to fire the most recently hired workers first, which reduces both the loss of human capital for the firm as well as the overall social cost to society, since the youngest workforce is the easiest to relocate and is often unmarried and/or has no children. Nonetheless, the post-crisis recovery is well underway in the Anglo-Saxon and eastern European countries, whereas youth unemployment remains extremely high in southern European countries. A persistent slow growth has played a significant role in keeping youth unemployment high in this last group of countries.

Youth unemployment rate and the ratio of
                        youth to adult unemployment rates

Figure 1, Panel B looks at the ratio of youth to adult unemployment rates. Each group, with the exception of the southern European countries, saw an increase in this ratio in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The reason that the ratio in southern European countries does not appear to have been affected is because the crisis has been so deep and prolonged in that region that it has also impacted the adults to a much larger extent than elsewhere; indeed, the fact that adults have been affected so significantly is often seen as an indicator of the depth of the crisis in these countries [5]. By 2015, the Anglo-Saxon countries had returned to their pre-crisis ratio levels or even below. This is likely related to the fact that both firing and hiring are easier than in the other country groups.

Another typical aspect of youth behavior is that they tend to seek jobs in a haphazard and discontinuous way. They are particularly affected by news about the labor market outlook and tend to get more easily discouraged than other demographic groups when the average unemployment rate is high. Since many young people are not actively seeking work, they tend to be classified more often as inactive rather than unemployed, but, in fact, they are still seeking a job. To take this behavior into account, many observers suggest looking at youth’s inactivity rate as well as their unemployment rate.

In addition to these two metrics, the NEET rate offers another statistical indicator that is able to account for young people’s tendency to be discouraged in their job search. NEET accounts for the tendency of young people to move more frequently between different labor market statuses, including education and training. Being in education and/or training should not be considered as a negative state for young people, since their main aim should be to build their own human capital. Moreover, in recent times, young people are increasingly involved in insecure, very-short-term labor market experiences, especially in those countries where labor flexibility has been achieved by liberalizing temporary work arrangements. In fact, in most countries, but especially in southern and eastern Europe, many young people are hired on short fixed-term contracts. This trend has led to calls for labor market reforms aimed at introducing a single type of permanent labor contract, which would entail less employment protection and lower litigation costs, and be achieved through the definition of pre-defined severance pay as well as lower fiscal and social security costs than are currently associated with fixed-term contracts [6]. The Italian Jobs Act of 2015 is one reform that moves in this direction.

Last, but not least, another commonly observed fact is that youth labor markets around the world are segmented. Some young people, especially those coming from rich families, tend to experience a smooth SWT. They achieve the highest educational level they wish and soon after find the jobs best suited for them. On the other hand, there are segments of young people who remain at a constant disadvantage in the labor market. This primarily includes low-educated young people, especially those without compulsory educational attainment and those who come from a poor background.

Seeking explanations for the youth disadvantage

Why do young people experience a disadvantage in the labor market? A mix of factors should be considered when attempting to answer this question. First and foremost among these is the lack of sufficient economic growth in many countries. The youth disadvantage is strongly and inversely affected by the business cycle: when an economy is expanding, its youth unemployment rate decreases more than the average, while it increases more than average when an economy is contracting. A study from 2012 supports this, by showing that the youth unemployment rate is particularly sensitive to economic and financial crises [7].

A mix of factors explain this counter-cyclical nature. First, the aforementioned LIFO principle plays a role, as it disproportionately impacts young workers. Second, the LIFO principle is amplified by policies that reduce the cost of firing, either for all workers, as in the Anglo-Saxon countries, or primarily for young workers, as is the case in countries that have implemented two-tier reforms that only apply to the new hires, such as most south and east European countries. If the majority of new hires are made through temporary contracts, it is easy to discontinue such contracts by simply not renewing them. This leads to a situation in which many youth cycle rapidly in and out of employment.

In addition to macroeconomic factors, one should consider more structural factors. In fact, differences in the youth disadvantage across countries are stubbornly persistent, and this is typically explained by different institutional settings. Structural factors are directly affected by the way in which SWT systems are organized and, indirectly, depend on policies regarding the education system and employment protection legislation. These institutions affect the length and degree of smoothness of youth’s SWT, and are so important in terms of labor market outcomes because they affect the main difference between youth and adults, namely the lack of two of the three main components of human capital: general and job-related competences. Human capital is not only based on education, but also on these components, which generate what has been called the “experience gap of young people” [3].

This gap is the main reason firms prefer adults to young people. Therefore, the gap generates what is sometimes called the “experience trap”: firms need not only general competences in their employees, which are gained through education, but also work-related competences and skills, which can be gained only through work experience. While general competences and work experience are gained quite quickly in any type of job and are easily transferred to any other type of job, job-specific competences and specific work experience can only be gained and used in the specific job for which they apply. Moreover, these specific traits require a long period of time to acquire. Examples of general competences acquired through any kind of work experience (e.g. a short time working at a fast-food restaurant) are: timeliness, ability to deal with the fact that in any organization there is a hierarchical and social division of labor, ability to deal with customers, and ability to use a word processing program. Examples of job-specific work experience are: teaching pupils for a teacher or professor, preparing a summons for a barrister, or preparing a tax return for a financial advisor.

Both general and job-related competences are subject to market failure. One study dating from the 1960s showed that it is not convenient for firms to provide general training because the competences acquired can be easily transferred to a competitor when workers change jobs [8]. Consequently, firms will tend to transfer the cost of training to workers via lower wages, unless the state offers financial or practical training support.

Likewise, job-specific competences tend to generate market failures and thereby require intervention from the state to be fully developed. As these competences are acquired through long periods of work experience, job-specific training is unlikely to be provided to workers on temporary contracts. Neither workers nor firms have sufficient incentives to invest in this form of training when contracts are temporary. It is therefore not uncommon that workers wishing to start a liberal profession, for instance, will find it hard to receive the necessary training from firms. One way to overcome this problem is by means of long-term contracts and wage structures that increase with job tenure to make workers more faithful to their employer [9].

Temporary work can be a tool to provide general but not firm-specific human capital. Due to their lower cost to firms, temporary contracts could incentivize them to provide on-the-job training to build general human capital, because workers will pay the cost of training via lower than market wages. Conversely, employers will be willing to provide on-the-job training to build firm-specific human capital in employees under the condition that the employee remains at the firm long enough to fully return the firm’s investment. Toward this end, firms tend to offer increasing wages to their employees for the exact purpose of incentivizing them to remain with the firm for this sufficiently long period of time.

Lower wage costs, which are attached to fixed-term (temporary) contracts, might be sufficient to allow young people to acquire the training that they need to overcome their gap in general, but not their gap in job-specific human capital. In other words, while temporary contracts may incentivize employers to hire young people, thereby imparting them with general skills, these arrangements will not lead to the development of job-specific competences. This is because firms worry that they will not benefit from the returns to job-specific competences that young workers would acquire if given job-specific training while under temporary contracts.

Differences in school-to-work transition regimes

The state plays a critical role in helping young people acquire all three of the key components of human capital. However, the way in which such help is provided differs dramatically across countries and the mix of institutions involved is highly complex; hence, it is important to identify different regimes or models used in different countries.

SWT systems differ on whether it is the mission of the education system itself to provide work-related competences (as in dual education systems) or whether young people are expected to acquire these competences after completing their education (as in sequential education systems) [5].

With their flexible labor markets, Anglo-Saxon countries provide the best example of sequential education systems, in which young people are able to acquire their work-related competences directly through work. If the labor market is sufficiently flexible, young people are able to move from one job to the next in a relatively quick and easy way, which allows them to gain a variety of work-related competences fairly quickly. To understand the importance of labor flexibility to reduce the experience gap of young people, consider a simple example. In the US, the annual job finding rate is above 60%, which means that 60 out of every 100 unemployed people find a job within the year, and, hence, if chances are equally distributed among unemployed individuals, every unemployed person has, on average, a chance to find a job in less than two years, which is a relatively short period of time.

Another important feature of Anglo-Saxon countries is their aversion to nationwide wage-setting mechanisms. Such practices tend to equalize wages across age groups, forcing firms to pay equal wages for different human capital and skill levels. In the absence of these nationwide policies, the ability to pay lower entry wages for young people incentivizes firms to hire them.

With its apprenticeship system involving about 60% of any young cohort, Germany is the best example of a dual education system. In Germany, the majority of young people acquire work-related competences during school, through their apprenticeship contract. Professional universities are also provided for graduates from the apprenticeship system. The main limitations of the German approach are to be found in the excessively specific knowledge of workers, which could be an obstacle in periods of dramatic structural change. Additionally, students are subject to early tracking, in which they are obliged to choose at the age of ten between going to a Gymnasium (a type of school with a strong emphasis on academic learning, which qualifies students for university) or other school types (which would qualify students for an apprenticeship). At this age, individuals have not fully developed their individual preferences; therefore adults usually make the choice instead [10].

Other types of SWT systems are more cumbersome (e.g. the Scandinavian model) or disorganized (e.g. the southern European model) in how they build work-related competences. Scandinavian countries include only small aspects of the dual principle in work-related learning at school in combination with rigid labor markets. These countries tend to help young people gain work-related competences by means of active labor market policies, implemented on a large scale and provided to everybody who has not found a job within four months of the beginning of their unemployment spell or completion of education. This is called the Youth Guarantee and has been recently extended by the EU to all EU countries.

Last, but not least, the southern European SWT, which is similar to that found in many Latin countries all over the world, also tends to include some aspects of the dual principle and quite rigid labor markets. For example, in Italy, in the early 1990s before the recent labor reforms, the job finding rate was only about 13%, which means that 13 out of 100 unemployed job seekers found a job within a year of their unemployment spell’s start. This meant that, on average, an unemployment spell was likely to last just less than eight years, which is obviously a very long duration. Only after the recent reforms (started in the late 1990s and still ongoing) has the job finding rate increased to about 30%, but this only applies to new hires. Only since the start of the 2010s have educational reforms introduced work-related learning into students’ curricula and the state adopted some proactive labor market measures similar to those found in the central European and Scandinavian systems.

Limitations and gaps

The most important limitation in the context of youth labor market performance is the tendency of labor economists to overrate the importance of labor markets and employment protection legislation. Labor flexibility and labor market institutions more generally are only some of the factors that affect the development of human capital among youth. Another important factor, which has only recently been understood as crucial, is the role of educational policy and well-designed educational reforms.

Additionally, the strong emphasis on economic growth, which is typical of the Keynesian approach, is often exaggerated by economists. Of course, economic growth is an obvious pre-condition to increase employment, especially among young people, but some aspects of the youth-specific challenges are independent of the business cycle and the degree of labor market flexibility. Instead, they depend on the way in which SWT systems are structured and, in particular, on the way education systems are built.

More information should be collected on how the structure of an education system affects youth labor market issues, rather than the current focus on the role of employment protection legislation. How much do countries spend on education? How interlinked are education systems with the labor market? How flexible are education systems and how many limitations are imposed on young people preventing them from fully developing their talent? All these questions should be addressed to get a better understanding about the mechanisms and reasons for differences in youth unemployment.

Summary and policy advice

Young people are the most affected by adverse economic conditions. One of the main reasons for this is that firms prefer to fire the most recently hired workers when layoffs are called for. They do this for both social and economic reasons: young people have fewer family commitments, which allows them to transition into new work situations more easily, and they possess less firm-specific human capital, thereby minimizing the firm’s losses when laying off employees.

Structural and institutional factors also matter. Young people are becoming ever more educated around the world, but they still have lower human capital than adults because they lack work-related competences. These competences can only be acquired on the job, through general and job-specific work experience. This experience gap generates an experience trap as employers search for employees who already possess competences, but young people need work experience to acquire them.

SWT regimes differ across countries in how they address this youth human capital gap. Anglo-Saxon countries utilize high-quality education and flexible labor markets. Central European countries, especially Germany, employ the dual principle of education (apprenticeship). Scandinavian countries have a sequential education system like the Anglo-Saxon countries, but rigid labor markets; they prevent long-term unemployment by providing proactive schemes on a large scale. Meanwhile, eastern and southern European countries are still trying to reform their institutions to come in line with these other systems.

In sum, if the youth disadvantage indeed depends on a human capital gap, then it is not by chance that the countries with the lowest youth disadvantage have education systems that are more integrated with the labor market and a modern system of “flexicurity” at work. Flexicurity means not only flexibility, but also labor security, which implies that if not job stability, then at least employment and income stability should be provided by means of passive income support, while proactive training schemes increase employability. From the point of view of young people, it should now be clear that a well-designed education system is important to have efficient flexicurity. While each country must address their own unique challenges, these features do appear key in providing youth with the tools they need to succeed in the labor market.

Acknowledgments

The author thanks two anonymous referees and the IZA World of Labor editors for many helpful suggestions on earlier drafts. Previous work of the author contains a larger number of background references for the material presented here and has been used intensively in all major parts of this article [3]. The author has received no financial, material, or personal source of support for his research.

Competing interests

The IZA World of Labor project is committed to the IZA Guiding Principles of Research Integrity. The author declares to have observed these principles.

© Francesco Pastore

Pastore, F. Why is youth unemployment so high and different across countries?. IZA World of Labor 2018: 420 doi: 10.15185/izawol.420

https://wol.iza.org/articles/why-is-youth-unemployment-so-high-and-different-across-countries/long

Post-work: the radical idea of a world without jobs

Work has ruled our lives for centuries, and it does so today more than ever. But a new generation of thinkers insists there is an alternative.

By 

Work is the master of the modern world. For most people, it is impossible to imagine society without it. It dominates and pervades everyday life – especially in Britain and the US – more completely than at any time in recent history. An obsession with employability runs through education. Even severely disabled welfare claimants are required to be work-seekers. Corporate superstars show off their epic work schedules. “Hard-working families” are idealised by politicians. Friends pitch each other business ideas. Tech companies persuade their employees that round-the-clock work is play. Gig economy companies claim that round-the-clock work is freedom. Workers commute further, strike less, retire later. Digital technology lets work invade leisure.

In all these mutually reinforcing ways, work increasingly forms our routines and psyches, and squeezes out other influences. As Joanna Biggs put it in her quietly disturbing 2015 book All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work, “Work is … how we give our lives meaning when religion, party politics and community fall away.”

And yet work is not working, for ever more people, in ever more ways. We resist acknowledging these as more than isolated problems – such is work’s centrality to our belief systems – but the evidence of its failures is all around us.

As a source of subsistence, let alone prosperity, work is now insufficient for whole social classes. In the UK, almost two-thirds of those in poverty – around 8 million people – are in working households. In the US, the average wage has stagnated for half a century.

As a source of social mobility and self-worth, work increasingly fails even the most educated people – supposedly the system’s winners. In 2017, half of recent UK graduates were officially classified as “working in a non-graduate role”. In the US, “belief in work is crumbling among people in their 20s and 30s”, says Benjamin Hunnicutt, a leading historian of work. “They are not looking to their job for satisfaction or social advancement.” (You can sense this every time a graduate with a faraway look makes you a latte.)

Work is increasingly precarious: more zero-hours or short-term contracts; more self-employed people with erratic incomes; more corporate “restructurings” for those still with actual jobs. As a source of sustainable consumer booms and mass home-ownership – for much of the 20th century, the main successes of mainstream western economic policy – work is discredited daily by our ongoing debt and housing crises. For many people, not just the very wealthy, work has become less important financially than inheriting money or owning a home.

Whether you look at a screen all day, or sell other underpaid people goods they can’t afford, more and more work feels pointless or even socially damaging – what the American anthropologist David Graeber called “bullshit jobs” in a famous 2013 article. Among others, Graeber condemned “private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers … telemarketers, bailiffs”, and the “ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza delivery) that only exist because everyone is spending so much of their time working”.

The argument seemed subjective and crude, but economic data increasingly supports it. The growth of productivity, or the value of what is produced per hour worked, is slowing across the rich world – despite the constant measurement of employee performance and intensification of work routines that makes more and more jobs barely tolerable.

Unsurprisingly, work is increasingly regarded as bad for your health: “Stress … an overwhelming ‘to-do’ list … [and] long hours sitting at a desk,” the Cass Business School professor Peter Fleming notes in his new book, The Death of Homo Economicus, are beginning to be seen by medical authorities as akin to smoking.

Work is badly distributed. People have too much, or too little, or both in the same month. And away from our unpredictable, all-consuming workplaces, vital human activities are increasingly neglected. Workers lack the time or energy to raise children attentively, or to look after elderly relations. “The crisis of work is also a crisis of home,” declared the social theorists Helen Hester and Nick Srnicek in a paper last year. This neglect will only get worse as the population grows and ages.

And finally, beyond all these dysfunctions, loom the most-discussed, most existential threats to work as we know it: automation, and the state of the environment. Some recent estimates suggest that between a third and a half of all jobs could be taken over by artificial intelligence in the next two decades. Other forecasters doubt whether work can be sustained in its current, toxic form on a warming planet.

Like an empire that has expanded too far, work may be both more powerful and more vulnerable than ever before. We know work’s multiplying problems intimately, but it feels impossible to solve them all. Is it time to start thinking of an alternative?


Our culture of work strains to cover its flaws by claiming to be unavoidable and natural. “Mankind is hardwired to work,” as the Conservative MP Nick Boles puts it in a new book, Square Deal. It is an argument most of us have long internalised.

But not quite all. The idea of a world freed from work, wholly or in part, has been intermittently expressed – and mocked and suppressed – for as long as modern capitalism has existed. Repeatedly, the promise of less work has been prominent in visions of the future. In 1845, Karl Marx wrote that in a communist society workers would be freed from the monotony of a single draining job to “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner”. In 1884, the socialist William Morris proposed that in “beautiful” factories of the future, surrounded by gardens for relaxation, employees should work only “four hours a day”.

In 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by the early 21st century, advances in technology would lead to an “age of leisure and abundance”, in which people might work 15 hours a week. In 1980, as robots began to depopulate factories, the French social and economic theorist André Gorz declared: “The abolition of work is a process already underway … The manner in which [it] is to be managed … constitutes the central political issue of the coming decades.”

Since the early 2010s, as the crisis of work has become increasingly unavoidable in the US and the UK, these heretical ideas have been rediscovered and developed further. Brief polemics such as Graeber’s “bullshit jobs” have been followed by more nuanced books, creating a rapidly growing literature that critiques work as an ideology – sometimes labelling it “workism” – and explores what could take its place. A new anti-work movement has taken shape.

hamster wheel illustration for andy beckett long read on post-work 19 jan 2018
 Illustration: Nathalie Lees for the Guardian

Graeber, Hester, Srnicek, Hunnicutt, Fleming and others are members of a loose, transatlantic network of thinkers who advocate a profoundly different future for western economies and societies, and also for poorer countries, where the crises of work and the threat to it from robots and climate change are, they argue, even greater. They call this future “post-work”.

For some of these writers, this future must include a universal basic income (UBI) – currently post-work’s most high-profile and controversial idea – paid by the state to every working-age person, so that they can survive when the great automation comes. For others, the debate about the affordability and morality of a UBI is a distraction from even bigger issues.

Post-work may be a rather grey and academic-sounding phrase, but it offers enormous, alluring promises: that life with much less work, or no work at all, would be calmer, more equal, more communal, more pleasurable, more thoughtful, more politically engaged, more fulfilled – in short, that much of human experience would be transformed.

To many people, this will probably sound outlandish, foolishly optimistic – and quite possibly immoral. But the post-workists insist they are the realists now. “Either automation or the environment, or both, will force the way society thinks about work to change,” says David Frayne, a radical young Welsh academic whose 2015 book The Refusal of Work is one of the most persuasive post-work volumes. “So are we the utopians? Or are the utopians the people who think work is going to carry on as it is?”


One of post-work’s best arguments is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the work ideology is neither natural nor very old. “Work as we know it is a recent construct,” says Hunnicutt. Like most historians, he identifies the main building blocks of our work culture as 16th-century Protestantism, which saw effortful labour as leading to a good afterlife; 19th-century industrial capitalism, which required disciplined workers and driven entrepreneurs; and the 20th-century desires for consumer goods and self-fulfillment.

The emergence of the modern work ethic from this chain of phenomena was “an accident of history,” Hunnicutt says. Before then, “All cultures thought of work as a means to an end, not an end in itself.” From urban ancient Greece to agrarian societies, work was either something to be outsourced to others – often slaves – or something to be done as quickly as possible so that the rest of life could happen.

Even once the new work ethic was established, working patterns continued to shift and be challenged. Between 1800 and 1900, the average working week in the west shrank from about 80 hours to about 60 hours. From 1900 to the 1970s, it shrank steadily further: to roughly 40 hours in the US and the UK. Trade union pressure, technological change, enlightened employers, and government legislation all progressively eroded the dominance of work.

Sometimes, economic shocks accelerated the process. In Britain in 1974, Edward Heath’s Conservative government, faced with a chronic energy shortage caused by an international oil crisis and a miners’ strike, imposed a national three-day working week. For the two months it lasted, people’s non-work lives expanded. Golf courses were busier, and fishing-tackle shops reported large sales increases. Audiences trebled for late-night BBC radio DJs such as John Peel. Some men did more housework: the Colchester Evening Gazette interviewed a young married printer who had taken over the hoovering. Even the Daily Mail loosened up, with one columnist suggesting that parents “experiment more in their sex lives while the children are doing a five-day week at school”.

Piccadilly Square in London during the three-day week of 1974.
 Piccadilly Square in London during the three-day week of 1974. Photograph: PA Archive

The economic consequences were mixed. Most people’s earnings fell. Working days became longer. Yet a national survey of companies for the government by the management consultants Inbucon-AIC found that productivity improved by about 5%: a huge increase by Britain’s usual sluggish standards. “Thinking was stimulated” inside Whitehall and some companies, the consultants noted, “on the possibility of arranging a permanent four-day week.”

Nothing came of it. But during the 60s and 70s, ideas about redefining work, or escaping it altogether, were commonplace in Europe and the US: from corporate retreats to the counterculture to academia, where a new discipline was established: leisure studies, the study of recreations such as sport and travel.

In 1979, Bernard Lefkowitz, then a well-known American journalist, published Breaktime: Living Without Work in a Nine to Five World, a book based on interviews with 100 people who had given up their jobs. He found a former architect who tinkered with houseboats and bartered; an ex-reporter who canned his own tomatoes and listened to a lot of opera; and a former cleaner who enjoyed lie-ins and a sundeck overlooking the Pacific. Many of the interviewees were living in California, and despite moments of drift and doubt, they reported new feelings of “wholeness” and “openness to experience”.

By the end of the 70s, it was possible to believe that the relatively recent supremacy of work might be coming to an end in the more comfortable parts of the west. Labour-saving computer technologies were becoming widely available for the first time. Frequent strikes provided highly public examples of work routines being interrupted and challenged. And crucially, wages were high enough, for most people, to make working less a practical possibility.

Instead, the work ideology was reimposed. During the 80s, the aggressively pro-business governments of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan strengthened the power of employers, and used welfare cuts and moralistic rhetoric to create a much harsher environment for people without jobs. David Graeber, who is an anarchist as well as an anthropologist, argues that these policies were motivated by a desire for social control. After the political turbulence of the 60s and 70s, he says, “Conservatives freaked out at the prospect of everyone becoming hippies and abandoning work. They thought: ‘What will become of the social order?’”

It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but Hunnicutt, who has studied the ebb and flow of work in the west for almost 50 years, says Graeber has a point: “I do think there is a fear of freedom – a fear among the powerful that people might find something better to do than create profits for capitalism.”

During the 90s and 00s, the counter-revolution in favour of work was consolidated by centre-left politicians. In Britain under Tony Blair’s government, the political and cultural status of work reached a zenith. Unemployment was lower than it had been for decades. More women than ever were working. Wages for most people were rising. New Labour’s minimum wage and working tax credits lifted and subsidised the earnings of the low-paid. Poverty fell steadily. The chancellor Gordon Brown, one of the country’s most famous workaholics, appeared to have found a formula that linked work to social justice.

A large part of the left has always organised itself around work. Union activists have fought to preserve it, by opposing redundancies, and sometimes to extend it, by securing overtime agreements. “With the Labour party, the clue is in the name,” says Chuka Umunna, the centre-left Labour MP and former shadow business secretary, who has become a prominent critic of post-work thinking as it has spread beyond academia. The New Labour governments were also responding, Umunna says, to the failure of their Conservative predecessors to actually live up to their pro-work rhetoric: “There had been such high levels of unemployment under the Tories, our focus was always going to be pro-job.”

In this earnest, purposeful context, the anti-work tradition, when it was remembered at all, could seem a bit decadent. One of its few remaining British manifestations was the Idler magazine, which was set up in 1993 and acquired a cult status beyond its modest circulation. In its elegantly retro pages, often rather posh men wrote about the pleasures of laziness – while on the side busily producing books and newspaper articles, and running a creative consultancy with corporate clients, Idle Industries. By the early 21st century, the work culture seemed inescapable.


The work culture has many more critics now. In the US, sharp recent books such as Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It) by the philosopher Elizabeth Anderson, and No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea by the historian James Livingston, have challenged the dictatorial powers and assumptions of modern employers; and also the deeply embedded American notion that the solution to any problem is working harder.

In the UK, even professionally optimistic business journals have begun to register the extent of work’s crises. In his 2016 book The Wealth of Humans: Work and its Absence in the 21st Century, the Economist columnist Ryan Avent predicted that automation would lead to “a period of wrenching political change” before “a broadly acceptable social system” emerges.

Post-work ideas are also circulating in party politics. Last April, the Green party proposed that weekends be lengthened to three days. In 2016, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour was “developing” a proposal for a UBI in the UK. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told his party conference last September that automation “can be the gateway for a new settlement between work and leisure – a springboard for expanded creativity and culture”.

“It felt like a watershed moment,” says Will Stronge, head of Autonomy, a British thinktank set up last year to explore the crisis of work and find ways out of it. “We’re in contact with Labour, and we’re going to meet the Greens soon.” Like most British post-workists, he is leftwing in his politics, part of the new milieu of ambitious young activist intellectuals that has grown up around Corbyn’s leadership. “We haven’t talked to people on the right,” Stronge admits. “No one’s got in contact with us.”

Yet post-work has the potential to appeal to conservatives. Some post-workists think work should not be abolished but redistributed, so that every adult labours for roughly the same satisfying but not exhausting number of hours. “We could say to people on the right: ‘You think work is good for people. So everyone should have this good thing,’” says James Smith, a post-workist whose day job is lecturing in 18th-century English literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. “Working less also ought to be attractive to conservatives who value the family.”

Outside the insular, intense working cultures of Britain and the US, the reduction of work has long been a mainstream notion. In France in 2000, Lionel Jospin’s leftwing coalition government introduced a maximum 35-hour week for all employees, partly to reduce unemployment and promote gender equality, under the slogan, “Work less – live more.” The law was not absolute (some overtime was permitted) and has been weakened since, but many employers have opted to keep a 35-hour week. In Germany, the largest trade union, IG Metall, which represents electrical and metal workers, is campaigning for shift workers and people caring for children or other relatives to have the option of a 28-hour week.

Even in Britain and the US, the vogues for “downshifting” and “work-life balance” during the 90s and 00s represented an admission that the intensification of work was damaging our lives. But these were solutions for individuals, and often wealthy individuals – the rock star Alex James attracted huge media attention for becoming a cheesemaker in the Cotswolds – rather than society as a whole. And these were solutions intended to bring minimal disruption to a free-market economy that was still relatively popular and functional. We are not in that world any more.


And yet the difficulty of shedding the burdens and satisfactions of work is obvious when you meet the post-workists. Explorers of a huge economic and social territory that has been neglected for decades– like Keynes and other thinkers who challenged the rule of work – they alternate between confidence and doubt.

“I love my job,” Helen Hester, a professor of media and communication at the University of West London, told me. “There’s no boundary between my time off and on. I’m always doing admin, or marking, or writing something. I’m working the equivalent of two jobs.” Later in our interview, which took place in a cafe, among other customers working on laptops – a ubiquitous modern example of leisure’s colonisation by work – she said knowingly but wearily: “Post-work is a lot of work.”

Yet the post-workists argue that it is precisely their work-saturated lives – and their experience of the increasing precarity of white-collar employment – that qualify them to demand a different world. Like many post-workists, Stronge has been employed for years on poorly paid, short-term academic contracts. “I’ve worked as a breakfast cook. I’ve been a Domino’s delivery driver,” he told me. “I once worked in an Indian restaurant while I was teaching. My students would come in to eat, and see me cooking, and say: ‘Hi, is that you, Will?’ Unconsciously, that’s why Autonomy came about.”

James Smith was the only post-workist I met who had decided to do less work. “I have one weekday off, and cram everything into the other days,” he said, as we sat in his overstuffed office on the Royal Holloway campus outside London. “I spend it with our one-and-a-half-year-old. It’s a very small post-work gesture. But it was a strange sensation at first: almost like launching myself off the side of a swimming pool. It felt alien – almost impossible to do, without the moral power of having a child to look after.”

Wheelbarrow and computer monitors in empty office
 Photograph: Getty

Defenders of the work culture such as business leaders and mainstream politicians habitually question whether pent-up modern workers have the ability to enjoy, or even survive, the open vistas of time and freedom that post-work thinkers envisage for them. In 1989, two University of Chicago psychologists, Judith LeFevre and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, conducted a famous experiment that seemed to support this view. They recruited 78 people with manual, clerical and managerial jobs at local companies, and gave them electronic pagers. For a week, at frequent but random intervals, at work and at home, these employees were contacted and asked to fill in questionnaires about what they were doing and how they were feeling.

The experiment found that people reported “many more positive feelings at work than in leisure”. At work, they were regularly in a state the psychologists called “flow” – “enjoying the moment” by using their knowledge and abilities to the full, while also “learning new skills and increasing self-esteem”. Away from work, “flow” rarely occurred. The employees mainly chose “to watch TV, try to sleep, [and] in general vegetate, even though they [did] not enjoy doing these things”. US workers, the psychologists concluded, had an “inability to organise [their] psychic energy in unstructured free time”.

To the post-workists, such findings are simply a sign of how unhealthy the work culture has become. Our ability to do anything else, only exercised in short bursts, is like a muscle that has atrophied. “Leisure is a capacity,” Frayne says.

Graeber argues that in a less labour-intensive society, our capacity for things other than work could be built up again. “People will come up with stuff to do if you give them enough time. I lived in a village in Madagascar once. There was this intricate sociability. People would hang around in cafes, gossiping, having affairs, using magic. It was a very complex drama – the kind that can only develop when you have enough time. They certainly weren’t bored!”

In western countries too, he argues, the absence of work would produce a richer culture. “The postwar years, when people worked less and it was easier to be on the dole, produced beat poetry, avant garde theatre, 50-minute drum solos, and all Britain’s great pop music – art forms that take time to produce and consume.”

The return of the drum solo may not be everyone’s idea of progress. But the possibilities of post-work, like all visions of the future, walk a difficult line between being too concrete and too airy. Stronge suggests a daily routine for post-work citizens that would include a provocative degree of state involvement: “You get your UBI payment from the government. Then you get a form from your local council telling you about things going on in your area: a five-a-side football tournament, say, or community activism – Big Society stuff, almost.” Other scenarios he proposes may disappoint those who dream of non-stop leisure: “I’m under no illusion that paid work is going to disappear entirely. It just may not be directed by someone else. You take as long as you want, have a long lunch, spread the work though the day.”

Town and city centres today are arranged for work and consumption – work’s co-conspirator – and very little else; this is one of the reasons a post-work world is so hard to imagine. Adapting office blocks and other workplaces for other purposes would be a huge task, which the post-workists have only just begun to think about. One common proposal is for a new type of public building, usually envisaged as a well-equipped combination of library, leisure centre and artists’ studios. “It could have social and care spaces, equipment for programming, for making videos and music, record decks,” says Stronge. “It would be way beyond a community centre, which can be quite … depressing.”

This vision of state-supported but liberated and productive citizens owes a lot to Ivan Illich, the half-forgotten Austrian social critic who was a leftwing guru during the 70s. In his intoxicating 1973 book Tools for Conviviality, Illich attacked the “serfdom” created by industrial machinery, and demanded: “Give people tools that guarantee their right to work with high, independent efficiency … from power drills to mechanised pushcarts.” Illich wanted the public to rediscover what he saw as the freedom of the medieval artisan, while also embracing the latest technology.

There is a strong artisan tendency in today’s post-work movement. As Hester characterises it: “Instead of having jobs, we’re going to do craft, to make our own clothes. It’s quite an exclusionary vision: to do those things, you need to be able-bodied.” She also detects a deeper conservative impulse: “It’s almost as if some people are saying: ‘Since we’re going to challenge work, other things have to stay the same.’”

Instead, she would like the movement to think more radically about the nuclear home and family. Both have been so shaped by work, she argues, that a post-work society will redraw them. The disappearance of the paid job could finally bring about one of the oldest goals of feminism: that housework and raising children are no longer accorded a lower status. With people having more time, and probably less money, private life could also become more communal, she suggests, with families sharing kitchens, domestic appliances, and larger facilities. “There have been examples of this before,” she says, “like ‘Red Vienna’ in the early 20th century, when the [social democratic] city government built housing estates with communal laundries, workshops, and shared living spaces that were quite luxurious.” Post-work is about the future, but it is also bursting with the past’s lost possibilities.


Now that work is so ubiquitous and dominant, will today’s post-workists succeed where all their other predecessors did not? In Britain, possibly the sharpest outside judge of the movement is Frederick Harry Pitts, a lecturer in management at Bristol University. Pitts used to be a post-workist himself. He is young and leftwing, and before academia he worked in call centres: he knows how awful a lot of modern work is. Yet Pitts is suspicious of how closely the life post-workists envisage – creative, collaborative, high-minded – resembles the life they already live. “There is little wonder the uptake for post-work thinking has been so strong among journalists and academics, as well as artists and creatives,” he wrote in a paper co-authored last year with Ana Dinerstein of Bath University, “since for these groups the alternatives [to traditional work] require little adaptation.”

Pitts also argues that post-work’s optimistic visions can be a way of avoiding questions about power in the world. “A post-work society is meant to resolve conflicts between different economic interest groups – that’s part of its appeal,” he told me. Tired of the never-ending task of making work better, some socialists have latched on to post-work, he argues, in the hope that exploitation can finally be ended by getting rid of work altogether. He says this is both “defeatist” and naive: “Struggles between economic interest groups can’t ever be entirely resolved.”

Yet Pitts is much more positive about post-work’s less absolutist proposals, such as redistributing working hours more equally. “There has to be a major change to work,” he says. “In that sense, these people want the right thing.” Other critics of post-work are also less dismissive than they first sound. Despite being a Tory MP from the most pro-business wing of his party, Nick Boles accepts in his book that a future society “may redefine work to include child-rearing and taking care of elderly relatives, and finally start valuing these contributions properly”. Post-work is spreading feminist ideas to new places.

Hunnicutt, the historian of work, sees the US as more resistant than other countries to post-work ideas – at least for now. When he wrote an article for the website Politico in 2014 arguing for shorter working hours, he was shocked by the reaction it provoked. “It was a harsh experience,” he says. “There were personal attacks by email and telephone – that I was some sort of communist and devil-worshipper.” Yet he senses weakness behind such strenuous efforts to shut the work conversation down. “The role of work has changed profoundly before. It’s going to change again. It’s probably already in the process of changing. The millennial generation know that the Prince Charming job, that will meet all your needs, has gone.”

After meeting Pitts in Bristol, I went to a post-work event there organised by Autonomy. It was a bitter Monday evening, but liberal Bristol likes social experiments and the large city-centre room was almost full. There were students, professionals in their 30s, even a middle-aged farmer. They listened attentively for two hours while Frayne and two other panellists listed the oppressions of work and then hazily outlined what could replace it. When the audience finally asked questions, they all accepted the post-workists’ basic premises. An appetite for a society that treats work differently certainly exists. But it is not, so far, overwhelming: the evening’s total attendance was less than 70.

And yet, as Frayne points out, “in some ways, we’re already in a post-work society. But it’s a dystopic one.” Office employees constantly interrupting their long days with online distractions; gig-economy workers whose labour plays no part in their sense of identity; and all the people in depressed, post-industrial places who have quietly given up trying to earn – the spectre of post-work runs through the hard, shiny culture of modern work like hidden rust.

Last October, research by Sheffield Hallam University revealed that UK unemployment is three times higher than the official count of those claiming the dole, thanks to people who come under the broader definition of unemploymentused by the Labour Force Survey, or are receiving incapacity benefits. When Frayne is not talking and writing about post-work, or doing his latest temporary academic job, he sometimes makes a living collecting social data for the Welsh government in former mining towns. “There is lots of worklessness,” he says, “but with no social policies to dignify it.”

Creating a more benign post-work world will be more difficult now than it would have been in the 70s. In today’s lower-wage economy, suggesting people do less work for less pay is a hard sell. As with free-market capitalism in general, the worse work gets, the harder it is to imagine actually escaping it, so enormous are the steps required.

But for those who think work will just carry on as it is, there is a warning from history. On 1 May 1979, one of the greatest champions of the modern work culture, Margaret Thatcher, made her final campaign speech before being elected prime minister. She reflected on the nature of change in politics and society. “The heresies of one period,” she said, always become “the orthodoxies of the next”. The end of work as we know it will seem unthinkable – until it has happened.

  • This article was amended on 22 January 2018 to clarify the categories of unemployed counted in the Sheffield Hallam research.

Main illustration: Nathalie Lees

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https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jan/19/post-work-the-radical-idea-of-a-world-without-jobs

7 artículos importantes que debe conocer del Código de Trabajo

Es de suma importancia conocer el Código de Trabajo, le presentamos los 7 artículos que creemos que todos deberían conocer.

¿Qué es el Código de Trabajo y cuál es su función?

¿Por qué debo saber la importancia del código de trabajo? Muchas son los guatemaltecos que se cuestionan la relevancia de tener conocimiento del código de trabajo.

Este código estructurado permite establecer la importancia que: toda persona que labora posee derechos y deberes; por lo tanto, el patrono debe regirse bajo este marco legal y propiciar un ambiente adecuado para el desenvolvimiento de los trabajadores.

Función del código de trabajo

El código de trabajo contiene normas especiales que determinan las clases de contratos para los trabajadores de la empresa privada o gobierno.

Este documento legal estable los roles entre los Gerentes o Representantes frente al personal que tiene bajo su mando. Pero ¿Quién regula este código? Para el cumplimiento de éstas normas, el ente regulador es el Ministerio de Trabajo y Prevención Social de Guatemala que vela por el buen desempeño de las relaciones empleado-empleador, personal-patrón u obrero-patronales, con el fin de establecer leyes que procuren mantener un equilibrio y respeto entre los dos agentes involucrados.

Además, El Código de Trabajo de Guatemala tiene el fin de contribuir a la paz social, a fomentar la productividad y el desarrollo social.

El Código de Trabajo es el encargado de establecer las normas para el desarrollo de la persona que labora, y abarca todo tipo de especialidades profesionales y oficios  riesgos de trabajo y enfermedades. Sucede con gran frecuencia el desconocimiento por parte de los guatemaltecos acerca de los beneficios y nivel de protección que brinda el código de trabajo.

Siete artículos importantes:

Permisos con goce de salario a los que tienes derecho:

  • De acuerdo al artículo 61, numeral ñ del Código de Trabajo, los patronos tienen obligación de conceder licencia con goce de sueldo a los trabajadores en los siguientes casos:
  • Cuando ocurriere el fallecimiento del cónyuge o de la persona con la cual estuviese unida de hecho el trabajador, o de los padres o hijos, tres días.
  • Cuando contrajera matrimonio, cinco días.
  • Por nacimiento de hijo, dos días.
  • Cuando el empleador autorice expresamente otros permisos o licencias y haya indicado que estos serán también retribuidos.
  • Para responder a citaciones judiciales por el tiempo que tome la comparecencia y siempre que no exceda de medio día dentro de la jurisdicción y un día fuera del departamento de que se trate.
  • Por desempeño de una función sindical, siempre que esta se limite a los miembros del Comité Ejecutivo y no exceda de seis días en el mismo mes calendario, para cada uno de ellos.
  • En todos los demás casos específicamente previstos en el convenio o pacto colectivo de condiciones de trabajo.

¿Cada cuánto debo descansar?

Además de vacaciones y asuetos, todo trabajador tiene derecho a disfrutar de un día de descanso remunerado después de cada semana de trabajo. La semana se computará de cinco a seis días según costumbre en la empresa o centro de trabajo. — Artículo 126.

¿Puedo cambiar mis vacaciones por dinero?

De acuerdo con el artículo 133: ‘Las vacaciones no son compensables en dinero, salvo cuando el trabajador que haya adquirido el derecho a gozarlas no las haya disfrutado por cesar en su trabajo cualquiera que sea la causa. Se prohíbe al trabajador prestar sus servicios a cualquier persona durante el período de vacaciones’.

¿A qué tengo derecho si estoy embarazada?

Según el artículo 152 del Código de Trabajo: ‘La madre trabajadora gozará de un descanso retribuido con el ciento por ciento (100%) de su salario durante los treinta (30) días que precedan al parto y los cincuenta y cuatro (54) días siguientes’.

Los días que no pueda disfrutar antes del parto, se le acumularán para ser disfrutados en la etapa post-parto, de tal manera que la madre trabajadora goce de ochenta y cuatro (84) días efectivos de descanso durante ese período.

Jornadas de trabajo

El artículo 116 expresa: La jornada ordinaria de trabajo efectivo diurno (06:00 — 18:00 horas) no puede ser mayor de 8 horas diarias, ni exceder de un total de 48 horas a la semana.

La jornada ordinaria de trabajo efectivo nocturno (18:00 — 06:00 horas) no puede ser mayor de 6 horas diarias, ni exceder de un total de 36 horas a la semana.

Trabajo en menores de edad

Los menores de edad deben trabajar en menor cantidad que los mayores, así lo indica el artículo 149: La jornada ordinaria — diurna se debe disminuir así:

En una hora diaria y en seis horas a la semana para los mayores de catorce años; y
En dos horas diarias y en doce horas a la semana para los jóvenes que tengan esa edad o menos, siempre que el trabajo de estos se autorice por la Inspección General de Trabajo.

¿Cuáles son razones justas de despido?

De acuerdo al artículo 77 del Código de Trabajo, son algunas causas justas de despido:

Cuando el trabajador deje de asistir al trabajo sin permiso del patrono o sin causa justificada, durante dos días laborales completos y consecutivos o durante seis medios días laborales en un mismo mes calendario.
Cuando el trabajador revele los secretos técnicos, comerciales o de fabricación de los productos.
Cuando el trabajador sufra la pena de arresto mayor o se le imponga prisión correccional por sentencia ejecutoriada.
Cuando el trabajador incurra en cualquier otra falta grave a las obligaciones que le imponga el contrato.

¿Qué lleva un reglamento interior de trabajo?

Todo patrono que ocupe en su empresa permanentemente diez o más trabajadores, queda obligado a elaborar y poner en vigor su respectivo reglamento interior de trabajo. Este debe contener:

Las horas de entrada y salida de los trabajadores, el tiempo destinado para las comidas y el período de descanso durante la jornada;
El lugar y el momento en que deben comenzar y terminar las jornadas de trabajo;
Los diversos tipos de salarios y las categorías de trabajo a que correspondan;
El lugar, día y hora de pago;
Las disposiciones disciplinarias y procedimientos para aplicarlas
La designación de las personas del establecimiento ante quienes deben presentarse las peticiones de mejoramiento o reclamos en general y la manera de formular unas y otros.

Aquí encontrarás más información acerca del Código del Trabajo:

http://biblio3.url.edu.gt/Libros/2011/codigo-de-trabajo.pdf

http://www.guatevision.com/2018/01/17/7-articulos-importantes-conocer-del-codigo-trabajo/

El Salvador y la cancelación del TPS

Crear una bolsa de empleo e inversión para salvadoreños en EE.UU. con competencias y habilidades específicas, y facilitar una una línea de financiamiento especial para quienes regresen al país es parte de lo que propone el sector privado.
Ante el impacto económico que se espera tendrá en El Salvador y también en los demás países del Triángulo Norte, la cancelación del estatus temporal de trabajo de aproximadamente 195 mil salvadoreños que hoy residen en EE.UU, el sector empresarial propone algunas alternativas para comenzar a solucionar los problemas que irán surgiendo a partir de septiembre de 2019.

El gobierno apenas se limita a anunciar posibilidades para hacer frente a la situación, como la extraña idea de enviar a los salvadoreños afectados a Qatar, y por otro lado el sector empresarial propone acciones concretas para capitalizar la crisis y convertirla en oportunidad. Ver: “El Salvador buscará que salvadoreños vivan en Qatar tras cancelación de TPS

Del comunicado de la ANEP:

OPORTUNIDADES Y EMPLEO PARA SALVADOREÑOS ANTE CANCELACIÓN TPS

El inadecuado manejo de la política exterior del gobierno del FMLN, ha sido un claro factor que ha influido de manera determinante en la cancelación del TPS, que beneficiaba a cerca de 200 mil salvadoreños en Estados Unidos y a sus familias acá en El Salvador.

La terca insistencia del gobierno del FMLN de alabar constantemente a los gobiernos fracasados y dictatoriales de Cuba y Venezuela, en adición a su histórica postura “anti-imperalismo yanqui”, es decir anti-Estados Unidos, ha incido entre otros factores, la decisión del gobierno de Estados Unidos. Prueba de ello es que a Honduras sí se le ha dado una prórroga para estudiar la situación.

Las consignas antiestadounidenses y la persistente quema de banderas en actos oficiales del FMLN, fue el la gota que rebalsó el vaso. “No permitiremos que se irrespete nuestra bandera” ha expresado tajantemente el Presidente Trump, sin embargo, los salvadoreños podemos convertir lo que podría ser una grave crisis humanitaria, en una oportunidad si hacemos las cosas bien y de manera proactiva.

La Asociación Nacional de la Empresa Privada propone las siguientes 3 medidas estratégicas:

1. La creación de una bolsa de trabajo e inversión en un sitio web orientando a salvadoreños en Estados Unidos con competencias y habilidades específicas a fin de que puedan conectar con empresarios en el país, ya sea para ser contratados o para inversiones conjuntas. Estamos conscientes que miles de salvadoreños han triunfado en Estados Unidos como emprendedores en un medio difícil tanto por las diferencias culturales como por el idioma, el talento de nuestros compatriotas podría perfectamente ser aprovechado para generar mayor inversión y empleo.

2. La creación por parte del sistema financiero de una línea de crédito con condiciones especiales para los emprendedores salvadoreños que regresen al país, tal apalancamiento financiero servirá para apoyar la creación de nuevos emprendimientos que podrían redundar no solo en la absorción productiva de los salvadoreños que regresan sino también en la generación de nuevas empresas y empleos en el país.

3. La realización de un foro nacional multidisciplinario del cual salgan propuestas concretas tendientes a mejorar el clima de negocios y la elaboración de propuestas sectoriales con el propósito de estimular la inversión privada nacional y atraer inversión extranjera a fin de aumentar el empleo.

Estamos claros que las anteriores propuestas solo pueden ser exitosas con un gobierno que comprenda a cabalidad la importancia de tener buenas relaciones con nuestros principales socios comerciales y el papel fundamental de la empresa privada para generar empleo, prosperidad y desarrollo constante.