Globalisation, technological progress and demographic change profoundly affect OECD labour markets, influencing both the quantity and quality of jobs that are available, as well as how and by whom they are carried out. Policy makers need to strengthen the resilience and adaptability of labour markets so that workers can manage the transition with the least possible disruption, while reaping as much as possible its benefits. Against this backdrop, the OECD Future of Work initiative looks at how demographic change, globalisation and technological progress are affecting job quantity and quality, as well as labour market inclusiveness - and what this means for labour market, skills and social policy.

New technologies lower transaction costs, making it easier for firms to outsource tasks, and for individuals to offer and market their services and to compete with firms, blurring the lines between dependent work and self-employment. This challenges traditional social protection systems, which, in many countries, were built with a stable employer-employee relationship in mind.

Non-standard work and self-employment, in particular, are not recent phenomena. It is therefore interesting to take a closer look at existing programmes in OECD countries that provide social protection to non-standard workers, and to learn from the practical experiences with such approaches. This volume contains seven case studies that shed light on different aspects of the social protection of non-standard workers (the self-employed, those at the border between self- and dependent employment, temporary workers, and workers on flexible or on-call contracts). The first chapter brings together some key policy insights from these case studies, and discusses other recent policy initiatives across the OECD. It also looks at the special challenge of providing social protection to platform workers, and offers policy options to increase the income security of on-demand and flexible hours workers.

The seven case studies in this volume were prepared by independent national experts in cooperation with the Social Policy Division of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs under the supervision of Monika Queisser (Senior Counsellor, Head of the OECD Social Policy Division). The first chapter was written by Monika Queisser and Raphaela Hyee. The volume benefitted from many useful comments provided by Stefano Scarpetta (Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs) as well as by staff in the Directorate’s Skills and Employability Division. Steve Whitehouse edited the seven case studies, and Liv Gudmundson and Lucy Hulett provided editorial support.

The financial support provided by Germany’s Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs is gratefully acknowledged, as well as the inputs of speakers and participants of the Workshop on the Future of Social Protection, held in June 2017 in Berlin.

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