Flexicurity as a measuring leakage protection of workers: between "social pollution" and "total security".

Calogero Massimo Cammalleri


Was not the labour problem the same everywhere? The paper attempts to answer this question by proposing a re-interpretation of flexicurity through the comparison with the economic concepts of externalities and distortion of competition.

After a methodological and epistemological premise, based on a multidisciplinary literature, the paper - critically addresses the origins of flexicurity and argues that it lacks an archetypical definition, especially in the formulation of the EU Commission.

Hence, the paper considers flexicurity as any balance between flexibility and security and, therefore, proposes ordering any set of contracts, providing the same balance and with the same regulatory framework, in communities. It is assumed, therefore, that communities can differ either in terms of a protective trade-off, where the differential is not a surrogate measure of security, or in terms of an economic trade-off, where it is met by the provision of social insurance or security.

One of these sets is called community 0 and it corresponds to undeclared work, not only illegal, but also completely devoid of security and fully flexible.

After identifying from ILO, EU and constitutional sources the foundation of the incompressibility of rights which guarantee decent work, the paper likens decent work to a public good of general interest, in the same way as laws generally recognize the natural environment.

On the basis of this comparative axiom, the paper proposes considering the dispersion of security produced by undeclared work as un-decent work and, therefore, as a form of pollution.

The paper proposes, conversely, to define as a total secure environment one where there is no loss of security and, therefore, a non-polluted environment.

Because an environment can be little or very polluted, the paper proposes considering as social pollution any form, even legal, of security leakage - such as that induced by the precarious and atypical jobs. Any form of employment is, therefore, considered in an nth community and every community is ordered from the least secure to the most secure, using as tertium comparationis standard employment, which is itself a point of balance between flexibility and security, and it is therefore a community of flexicurity.

In this way, each community expresses a degree of social participation in environmental pollution: from the maximum produced by undeclared work to the minimum produced by labour standard.

The adopted economic approach allows defining this pollution as a negative externality and, therefore, refer to its contrast in terms of internalization. Among the techniques of internalization, the preferred one is the Pigovian tax, because it can overcome the difficulties associated with the identification of taxable income in the undeclared work and in the informal sector. It has been observed, in fact, in an economic study on the effects of social security contributions on the tax revenues (IRAP), that the insurance mechanism creates a regressive effect on the competitiveness of labour standards, making it less competitive in favour of precarious and atypical work and, thus, triggering a vicious cycle that increases social pollution.

Developing from these economic studies, the paper proposes using an enforcement mechanism based on a social indirect tax on the output of the work, instead of a traditional insurance mechanism, such as that of flexinsurance, which is instead levied on the earnings of workers. Indeed, in the case of undeclared work these earnings are not reported and are not affected by the social security contributions.

In this way, it is believed that on one hand you lose your interest in hiding most of the black job. On the other hand, a mechanism would be enforced that forces polluters to contribute to the financing of the security needed to address the pollution created. Because of the adopted ordering of communities, this positive effect would also impact on precarious forms of employment and atypical work in proportion to the security dispersed.

In conclusion, the paper gives an answer to the starting question. This answer, however, mostly wants to be a stimulus to think more deeply on the security component, rather than on the flexibility component of the labour market. As such it should also be taken as a provocation to refuse, like Orwell, any unique thought, even if this were flexicurity.

Parole chiave

flexicurity, undeclared work, social pollution, socila security, social securuty tax, fundamental rights

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