Precarious Work in the Republic of Ireland

The evidence on the prevalence and growth in at-risk categories of precariousness in the Republic of Ireland is mixed. This paper presents evidence from multiple survey sources on an array of indicators of at-risk forms of precarious employment as set out recently by the European Parliament (Broughton et al 2016).


The paper discusses divergence in estimates of some indicators from different data sources. We propose that issues around reliance on survey respondents understanding of their employment contract in data collection likely explains, at least in part, this divergence.

The report presents evidence of a decline in the share of ‘typical’ employment for employees in Ireland i.e. full-time and permanent work. The analysis uncovers strong evidence of growth in the share of several at-risk categories of precarious work, including in part-time work, underemployment, marginal part-time work, part-time temporary contracts and involuntary temporary contracts.

We present evidence that a structural change in the Irish labour market has occurred over the past decade or so. The paper provides time-series analysis of indicators related to new employment, the employment of younger workers and transition rates from at-risk categories of precarious employment to full-time, permanent jobs to support this theory.

The analysis also shows that deprivation rates and the share of workers that would be unable to meet an unexpected expense were still significantly higher in 2016 than in the years leading up to the financial crisis for all but one category of worker (including for full-time and permanent employees). 

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