force). Nonstandard work may help individuals secure permanent jobs elsewhere by helping them gain work experience or skills, but it does not appear to lead directly to permanent jobs, at least on average. Certainly some nonstandard work also meets the needs of individuals who, for a variety of reasons, prefer the schedules such work provides. Some part of the increase in nonstandard work may reflect a changing preference of employees for such schedules. Independent contractors and other self-employed persons who have nonstandard work, however, do not appear to have high job insecurity or employment instability (Houseman and Polivka, 1998) and perhaps neither need nor are interested in making a transition to a permanent job.

The growth of nonstandard work arrangements represents a change in the work context that has implications for a number of issues discussed in this book. Instead of the employer controlling one's work, for example, persons in some nonstandard work arrangements either control their own work (along the lines of independent contractors and other self-employed persons) or are supervised by someone other than their employer (as are employees of temporary help agencies). Employees of temporary help agencies and contract companies also work in locations other than their employing firm, such as in a client organization. Moreover, some nonstandard work arrangements, such as independent contractors, are characterized by multiple employers. These arrangements represent important challenges to traditional definitions and classifications of employment that rely on the single, long-term employer, including most labor and employment law.

Nonstandard work arrangements may also involve the transfer of control over work from the organization in which a person works to occupational groups (such as those to which independent contractors belong) or to other organizations (such as contract companies). This transfer of control has implications for the object of the worker's attachment (e.g., the occupation rather than the organization) and who should be responsible for training the worker. The importance of occupational analysis—particularly in describing the content of work as performed in a variety of organizations—is therefore increased, since the organization may well become less relevant as the unit within which work is primarily defined and structured.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement