Our figure of the month 09/2018: Temporary employment – a phenomenon only at universities? Structural evaluation of figures from the current Mikrozensus

The number of fixed-term employment contracts has increased in recent years despite the good labour market situation (Hohendanner 2018) and has thus moved into the political focus: According to the decisions of the ruling coalition, fixed-term employment is to be curtailed in the coming years, chain time limits restricted and ultimately more job security for employees is to be created.

It is well known that fixed-term employment is widespread in certain areas of the world of work, such as higher education. Accordingly, the evaluation of the Microcensus also shows that fixed-term employment particularly affects employed persons with a Master's, Bachelor's or PhD degree: Among them, 25.9%, 22.7% and 18.9% respectively have temporary contracts, while the average for all groups on the labour market is 13.1% (see figure). The gap with those who have completed apprenticeships or vocational training is immense, since on average they only work for a limited period of time in 7.5% of cases.


However, a look at the sectors reveals that fixed-term employment is not only widespread in private and public services with a share of 17.2% (which includes higher education, but also health and social services, among others), but also above average in business-related services (share 13.6%) and in public administration (share 13.5%). In fact, for all sectors, the proportion of temporary jobs is not too far from the overall average, so no sector is free of this problem.

The mostly young age of those affected indicates the frequent use of fixed-term employment contracts in the years of career entry. In the course of the employment biography, however, the probability of a fixed contract gradually increases. Only 5% of the over 50-year-olds are employed on a temporary basis.

Whether the reform efforts will change the structural incidence of temporary employment can be observed and analysed in the coming years. Employers benefit from the flexibility in their personnel planning, but for affected employees they often mean uncertain future planning.

Source: Hohendanner, Christian (2018): Reichweite, Risiken und Alternativen. Reform der befristeten Beschäftigungen im Koalitionsvertrag. IAB-Kurzbericht 16/2018. Nürnberg.

Other figures can be found here.

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