WP 16 - Flexible work and organisational arrangements: Regulatory problems and responses

Author/s (editor/s):

Quinlan, Michael

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

Peer Reviewed Publication:Quinlan, Michael. "Flexible Work and Organisational Arrangements". In OHS Regulation for a Changing World of Work ( Bluff, Gunningham and Johnstone Eds), (Sydney: Federation Press, 2004), 120-145.The past 25 years have witnessed substantial changes in work organisation in Australia and most if not all other industrialised countries. Notable amongst these changes has been an expansion in part-time and fixed term or temporary employment (and a corresponding decline in permanent full-time jobs especially for males) a growth in home-based and telework as well as multiple jobholding. The proportion of workforce employed in small business has risen and there have changes in the industry and occupation distribution of self-employed workers. The growth of flexible work arrangements is a consequence of organisational changes including increased use of outsourcing/elaborate supply chains, repeated rounds of downsizing/restructuring by large public and private sector employers, privatization and management techniques such as labour leasing, franchising, lean production or business process re-engineering.There is now a substantial body of international research indicating that in many instances flexible work arrangements such as temporary and home-based work, the use of subcontractors/outsourcing and increased job insecurity resulting from downsizing are associated with inferior outcomes in terms of worker safety, health and well-being. It is also becoming increasingly clear that a number of the work arrangements and organisational changes just described pose a significant problems for OHS regulators and those administering workers compensation/rehabilitation regimes. Government agencies in Australia and overseas are beginning to respond to these problems (in some cases with the active co-operation of industry bodies, employers and unions).This paper is concerned to identify the nature of the problems that flexible work and the organisational changes referred to can pose for OHS regulation as well as assessing the responses being implemented to address them. It will also try to indicate where more strategic responses can be developed in the future.

Cite the publication as

Quinlan, Michael, 2003, WP 16 - Flexible work and organisational arrangements: Regulatory problems and responses, National Research Centre for OHS Regulation, Canberra

Download/View publication

PDF icon WorkingPaper_16.pdf194.48 KB

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet