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Forms of Employment and Quality of Employment

Quality of employment is an important element of well-being and affects the lives of individual workers and members of their households. Quality of employment frameworks cover a broad range of dimensions and indicators related to employment, including the working environment, income, work-life balance, social security, work motivation and development opportunities.

According to the UNECE statistical framework on measuring quality of employment, there are seven key dimensions of quality of employment, organized on the basis of an assessment of human needs that may be satisfied through employment:

  1. Safety and ethics of employment
  2. Income and benefits from employment 
  3. Working time and work-life balance
  4. Security of employment and social protection
  5. Social dialogue
  6. Skills development and training
  7. Employment-related relationships and work motivation

This framework defines quality of employment from the viewpoint of the employed person and their well-being; however, these dimensions may vary from the perspective of the employer or of society.  Any assessment of quality of employment will depend, to some extent, on the point of view taken and may differ between countries and from person to person.

The OECD Job Quality Framework and the ILO’s Decent Work Indicators have slightly different approaches to defining quality of employment. The OECD Job Quality Framework focuses largely on job quality outcomes while the ILO’s Decent Work Indicators also includes “legal framework indicators” which describe relevant national legislation, policies and institutions. Despite their differences, all existing quality of employment frameworks focus on aspects of employment which broadly relate to human needs.

Dimensions of Quality of Employment in the UNECE framework

1.    Safety and ethics of employment

  • focuses on physical safety and conditions at work, physical health and mental well-being, as well as the rights and treatment of the person in employment.
  • three sub-dimensions: 1a) Safety at work, 1b) Child labour and forced labour, and 1c) Fair treatment in employment

2.    Income and benefits from employment

  • The income and benefits dimension can vary by the form of employment and serves as an important component of quality of employment. 
  • This dimension is divided into two sub-dimensions: 2a) Income and 2b) non-wage pecuniary benefits 

3.    Working time and work-life balance 

  • This dimension focuses on two concepts: (1) working time refers to the length and arrangement of time associated with employment, and (2) work-life balance measures the time spent doing paid work versus time available for private life (e.g., trying to balance employment and childcare). 
  • This dimension is divided into three sub-dimensions: 3a) Working hours, 3b) Working time arrangements, and 3c) Work-life balance

4.    Security of employment and social protection 

  • Employment security and social protection focuses on threats to employment security and examines social insurance programs which can mitigate these risks (e.g., programs that offset the effects of unemployment, illness/ disability, retirement etc.).
  • Two sub-dimensions: 4a) security of employment and 4b) social protection 

5.    Social dialogue 

  • This dimension measures the extent to which workers can freely join associations, organize, and bargain collectively with their employers and the government.
  • Social dialogue is an important determinant of quality of employment because it helps facilitate discussion about employment conditions and worker concerns, though it is not always applicable to all categories of workers.   

6.    Skill development and training 

  • This indicator evaluates the match between workers’ skills and those required by the job and the opportunities for workers to further develop their skills through training.
  • These indicators offer an assessment of quality of employment by shedding light on lower skilled workers who have difficulties finding employment due to a lack of training opportunities and skills mismatch. 

7.    Employment-related relationships and work motivation

  • Employment-related relationships and work motivation impact worker well-being. For example, having a supportive and positive relationship with co-workers and superiors can help cope with difficult work situations, while increased job autonomy and lower work intensity can improve employee motivation.  
  • This dimension is divided into two subdimensions: 7a) employment-related relationships and 7b) work motivation 
Forms of employment as indicators and drivers of quality of employment

Forms of employment are mainly characterized by work relationships (classified according to ICSE-18) and work modalities. The prevalence of different types of work relationships and work modalities can represent important indicators of quality of employment by themselves.

The proportion of jobs featuring specific types of work relationships, such as independent workers without employees or temporary employment agency workers, could be an indicator of the quality of employment in a country. For instance, permanent employees typically have more security than dependent contractors or independent workers without employees.

  • In the UNECE framework, indicators based on work relationships are all classified under the sub-dimension of security in employment and reflect the status in employment categories found in ICSE-93. 


Some work modalities are also indicators of quality of employment. For example, excessively long or short hours of work, or working night shifts may have a significant impact on worker well-being.

  • Modalities are mostly associated with the working time and work-life balance dimension of the UNECE Quality of Employment Framework.


Work relationships and modalities can also be drivers of quality of employment by shaping other indicators that impact quality of employment. For example, some forms of employment are associated with lower or higher earnings or a higher chance of receiving informal training.

To compare the quality of employment associated with different forms of employment, it is important to use indicators that can be measured at the level of the job. Analysis at this level focuses on evaluating whether different modalities or relationships are associated with a higher or lower quality of employment.

The impact of specific work modalities and work relationships on quality of employment can be assessed by comparing the forms of employment of interest with other forms (e.g. training participation for fixed-term employees compared with permanent employees) using indicators from the seven broad dimensions of the quality of employment framework.

Forms of employment as drivers and indicators of quality of employment

Society-level and person-level indicators

Some indicators from the UNECE framework on quality of employment are not measured at the level of the job, nor do they describe a specific job. In such cases, the analysis is no longer strictly about evaluating the impact of a specific form of employment on quality of employment, but instead concerns assessing person-level or society-level indicators which might have an indirect relationship with forms of employment. 

Person-level indicators relate to the personal circumstances of a worker or how personal circumstances interact with certain employment characteristics. Examples include:

  • 3a3 Involuntary part-time rate (% of employed persons working part-time for the main reason that they did not find a full-time job)

Society-level indicators cover areas related to fair treatment in employment such as pay gaps, as well as indicators which examine the labour market as a whole. Examples of society-level indicators based on the UNECE Quality of Employment Framework include:

  • 1c1 Pay gap (Pay gap between subpopulation groups (e.g., gender wage ratio)



ILO. (2013). Decent Work Indicators: guidelines for producers and users of statistical and legal
framework indicators. ILO Manual, second version. International Labour Office, Geneva.
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UNECE. (2015). Handbook on Measuring Quality of Employment: A Statistical Framework,
prepared by the Expert Group on Measuring Quality of Employment. United Nations, New York
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