ILO and EUROSTAT host global conference on measuring new forms of employment

The ILO called for better and authoritative data to track the changing world of work at the conference, which discusses the development of reliable statistics to measure and understand new forms of employment, setting a common path for the coming years.

The ILO underlined the need for comprehensive and meaningful statistics to describe and address the changing work realities, driven by digital, environmental and demographic shifts, at a Global conference on measuring new forms of employment, organized jointly by the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The world of work is changing in ways and at a pace which are truly unprecedented. Digital, environmental and demographic shifts are driving rapid and unpredictable change in the nature of work and how it is organized, while working relationships keep evolving, and the traditional employment relationship is eroding rapidly.

“Against this backdrop, the availability of comprehensive, meaningful and reliable statistics is of utmost importance,” said Manuela Tomei, ILO Assistant Director-General for Governance, Rights and Dialogue. “They permit to better seize the changing work realities and monitor developments overtime, facilitating better informed policy action. Good-quality data are essential to improving the working conditions and the well-being of workers and therefore enhancing labour rights.”

New statistical standards adopted since 2013 promote a better understanding of paid and unpaid work, working relationships and the informal economy. This includes a new statistical standard concerning statistics of work, employment and labour underutilization, which reckons that unpaid care work is also work.

“This standard was revolutionary and has given further impetus and legitimacy to policies facilitating a more even distribution of unpaid care work within and between families and the State through, for instance, greater investments in public policies for childcare and elderly care,” said Ms Tomei.

She also underlined the close alignment between the new statistical standard on informality and ILO Recommendation No. 204 on the transition from the informal to the formal economy, which provides guidance on policy action. Both standards use the same definition of informality and cover informality of jobs, work activities, and economic units, as well as the contribution of informal activities to GDP.

But major data gaps persist, as current data is insufficient to accurately track the changing world of work. “There are almost no authoritative data available to inform discussions on the impact of artificial intelligence and algorithmic management, for example. To fully harness their potential benefits, we must understand their implications for workers. High-quality data is vital for the quality of these debates,” Ms Tomei added.

In addition, data is not always sufficiently embedded in policy making, sometimes due to a lack of clarity in what is being measured and why.

“I hope that at the end of this conference, we will have a better sense of which path to take, not only to improve data availability on ongoing labour market transformations, but also to better link data to policy making for better informed decisions that promote fair, inclusive, sustainable employment practices and decent work for all,” Ms Tomei concluded.

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