Small and Medium-sized Establishments in Europe: Operating Hours and Working Time Patterns
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises have become an increasingly important component of policy at both the national and European level in recent years (Unger, 2003; Devins and Johnson, 2003). The importance of SMEs in terms of their share of employment is undeniable and Gray (2004) suggests that around 99% of EU firms are SMEs accounting for 122 million private sector jobs. Although SMEs are often promoted for their employment creation or innovation potential, less is known about their workingtime patterns (Sieglen et al., 2001). This chapter explores the relationship between operating hours and working patterns in establishments of different sizes in six European countries. We analyse the extent to which the operating times of small and medium sized establishments are explained by their different utilisation of working arrangements and the particular constraints or flexibilities that smaller organisations may face in relation to larger establishments. SMEs are often identified as a source of job growth and increased competitively in a European context but while SMEs may have inherent flexibilities their size may also create constraints when it comes to the development and implementation of complex working-time arrangements and compensation systems. Using the EUCOWE survey of more than 17,000 establishments based in Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, we show how operating hours are positively related to establishment size and the use of various working-time patterns. However, at the same time, the operating hours of SMEs can benefit from the adoption of working time practices likely to extend operating hours.
The chapter is divided into six sections. The next Section 5.2 reviews the links between working time and organisational size. Section 5.3 briefly considers some methodological issues relating to the use of the EUCOWE survey in this paper. Section 5.4 examines the operating hours by establishment size, establishment autonomy and country, and examines the working-time arrangements employed to meet operating time requirements. Section 5.5 uses multivariate analysis to examine the extent to which working patterns and other factors affect operating hours in SMEs. The final Section 5.6 draws on the empirical results and discusses the implications of the findings.
KeywordsShift Work Collective Agreement Large Establishment Small Establishment Extend Operating Time
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