Overtime regulations of our time - a cross country comparison
Departement of sociology and hunam geography University of Oslo Oslo, Norway
This is a comparative study investigating the evolution of overtime regulations in the bank sector in 3 countries, Ireland, Norway and Sweden, from 1980-2008. Data are collected from statutory legislation and national collective agreements. Because of a decentralisation taking place in all three countries during the 1990?s, the company level had to be included as well in terms of cases from each country. Interviews at both levels are conducted to help the interpretation of the changes taking place.
Since 1980 there have been increased international competition and market-orientation and many scholars discuss how national labour standards are affected by pressure from these changes (Traxler et al 2001, Hall & Soskice 2001).Overtime is normally not seen as a mean of working-time flexibility meeting the requirements in the post-industrial period. It is argued that overtime is replaced by arrangements such as annualised hours working, averaging and flexible scheduling which adapt to variable market demands in a more flexible way (Rubery & Grimshaw 2003). However, overtime still is an important regulative issue (Freyssinet & Michon 2003) and it is not proved that functional alternatives are replacing it in any large scale (Arrowsmith 2007).
The potential outcomes of the evolvement of overtime regulations are stability, de-regulation or re-regulation. In the study, Ireland is the country where overtime regulations are expected to be most subject to de-regulation because it liberal-model regime roots. Despite Ireland?s recent development towards a more coordinated economy and a more hybrid regulative model, it is a contrast to Norway and Sweden, which are traditional examples of highly coordinated regimes. Norway and Sweden are critical cases because deregulation is less likely due to the regulative traditions in the Nordic countries. Moreover, the countries are suitable for comparison because of size and because they are all small open economies.
Factors that can explain the patterns of stability and change will be discussed. Can cases of deregulation be explained by increased international competition? Are cases of stability explained by institutional inertia, strong trade unions or simply by a making of functional alternatives to overtime?