|Job Quality and Small Enterprise Development - Working Paper No. 4 (ILO, 1999, 35 p.)|
The term job quality refers to a range of inter-connected employment concerns. These concerns incorporate the seven ILO Conventions identified by the ILOs Governing Body as being fundamental to the rights of human beings at work, irrespective of the levels of development of individual member States. These rights are a precondition for all others in that they provide for the necessary implements to strive freely for the improvement of individual and collective conditions of work. Further to this, job quality refers to the absence of child labour and the provision of the following:
· remuneration levels - where salary payments, working hours, fringe benefits and equal opportunities are adequately provided;
· job security - where employment contracts and the length of tenure provide a sense of long-term stability for workers;
· social protection - where mechanisms for health, life, disability and unemployment insurance, as well as pension schemes, child care, and maternity leave are in place;
· safety and health concerns - where working conditions are adequate and include the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases, the containment of environmental hazards as well as the promotion of health in the workplace;
· human resource development - where workers are treated as an integral and valuable asset to the enterprise, provided with education and training opportunities, prospects of promotion and incentives for improvement;
· management and organisation - where contemporary management methods are used (e.g. Total Quality Control), sound industrial relations practised, freedom of association and opportunities for participation and involvement encouraged; and
· freely chosen employment: concerning areas such as the existence and character of bonded labour and exploitative apprenticeship arrangements.
Whilst it is recognised that many small enterprises do not provide employment of this type, it is essential that such qualitative aspects become an integral part of job creation in this sector. Safe and secure workplaces not only meet vital human needs, they also boost productivity and enable businesses to grow. Hazardous working conditions create risks and harm workers. They also decrease productivity. This reduces income, which also decreases health and subsequently, productivity. At the same time, many workers in small enterprises are facing a high degree of risk due to their poor incomes and lack of access to social services. This makes them more vulnerable in time of crisis; whether this is financial crisis, sickness or, as is often the case, both.
If the institutional framework for improving working conditions and providing social protection is right, secure workers will invest more in themselves and in their jobs. Social policy can be used to reinforce productivity enhancement and improve the social environment.