Good work for everyone should be the new social mission

The automation, flexibilization and intensification of work will have significant consequences for people. For this reason, good work for everyone should become a priority for companies, institutions, employer and trade union associations, and the government. Good work is essential for the quality of individual lives as well as for the economy and society more broadly.

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Image: ©WRR

This is the outcome of an analysis by the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR), summarized in a report entitled Better Work: the Impact of Automation, Flexibilization and intensification on Work. The WRR argues that improving the quality of work for all people is the new societal mission and advances nine policy proposals to promote and facilitate good work for more people. They can be clustered in four categories: control over income, control over work, control in life and good work.

Control over income

  1. Eliminate unfair competition between workers with different forms of employment contract.
  2. Develop a system of contract-neutral basic social insurance and provisions for all citizens, tailored to the new world of work.
  3. Reinstate an active labour-market policy, including a greater focus on personal guidance.
  4. Provide people on benefits with little chance of finding work on the open labour market a basic job.

Control over work

  1. Develop a programmatic approach to good work within companies and work organizations.
  2. Strengthen the position of workers within work organizations.

Control in life

  1. Create more options for people to choose how many hours they work by, for example, improving the provision of care for children and the elderly and making it easier for workers to demand more hours.
  2. Introduce collectively financed long-term leave arrangements for care-givers and allow people more say over the hours they work.

Good work

  1. Make the three criteria for good work and their distribution across the population the basis of government policy and track them in the Monitor of Well-Being.

Better Work: the Impact of Automation, Flexibilization and intensification on Work, in the Springer book series Research for Policy, is the English translation of Het betere werk. De nieuwe maatschappelijke opdracht. When the original report was presented to the Dutch government early 2020, there appeared to be broad support for making the WRR’s main message – to focus on better work – the central theme of labour market policy.

The coronavirus pandemic struck shortly thereafter, realigning the focus of politicians and policymakers. Structural changes to policy – rather than just emergency measures – aimed at better work were put on hold. The report and its recommendations nevertheless remain in the spotlight, witnessed in discussions about the disadvantages of flexibilization, compulsory insurance for the self-employed, better childcare, improving conditions for healthcare professionals, and the basic jobs that more and more municipalities are introducing.

Webinar ‘Better Policies for Better Work’

To celebrate the release, the WRR and the European University Institute (EUI) organise a webinar ‘Better Policies for Better Work’, which will take place on December the 9th from 3.30 to 5 pm.(CET) 

The webinar consist of two parts. In the first section on Better work, prof. dr. Monique Kremer (WRR) will present the book, while prof. dr. Duncan Gallie (University of Oxford) and dr. Stijn Broecke (OECD) will respond. In the second part prof. dr. Anton Hemerijck (EUI) will discuss Better Policies, based on this ERC- research Robust welfare states in knowledge economises and aging societies, with comments by prof. dr. Bea Cantillon (University of Antwerp) and dr. Tim van Rie (European Commission).

The webinar will be moderated by prof. dr. Godfried Engbersen (WRR).

If you would like to join the webinar, please register via A week before the event you will receive a confirmation by email with a link to access the webinar.