Contractual Insecurity in the EU15: Using Multiple Surveys to Investigate Working with ‘No Contract’


  • Amy E. Healy Mary Immaculate College
  • Seán Ó Ríain


Our analysis makes use of three comparative European datasets to investigate the nature and meaning of working with ‘No Contract’ across a range of European societies in the mid-2010s. Using the EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS, 1995-2015), European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS, 1995-2015), and European Social Survey (ESS, 2002-2016) we show that the presence of workers with ‘No Contract’ is a significant feature of the labour market for a small number of Mediterranean countries, Ireland and the UK. We analyse how respondents describe their employment situation in different countries, given different possible contract categories; the subjective perception of their labour market insecurity by workers in various contract situations; and investigate how ‘No Contract’ working relates to other key variables in particular work and employment configurations. The paper reveals two primary patterns of ‘No Contract’ working. The first is related to ‘temporary contract’ work, with ‘No Contract’ employment serving as a related form of casualised work in the Mediterranean economies in particular. This also suggests that estimates of precarity are somewhat under-estimated in Mediterranean and Liberal economies in Europe. The second is present only in the UK and Ireland and represents a group of ‘No Contract’ workers primarily in market services, whose situation is best analysed as a particular, potentially more uncertain, form of permanent work.