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Journal cover: Employee Relations

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Online from: 1979

Subject Area: Human Resource Management

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Evaluating the nature of undeclared work in South Eastern Europe

Document Information:
Title:Evaluating the nature of undeclared work in South Eastern Europe
Author(s):Colin C. Williams, (University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Citation:Colin C. Williams, (2010) "Evaluating the nature of undeclared work in South Eastern Europe", Employee Relations, Vol. 32 Iss: 3, pp.212 - 226
Keywords:Employment, Europe, European Union, Pay
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/01425451011038762 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The author would like to thank the Employment Analysis Division in the Employment and Social Affairs DG of the European Commission for providing access to the Special Eurobarometer Survey No. 278 database so that the analysis in this paper could be undertaken. The author is also grateful to the reviewers for their insightful comments on an earlier version of the paper. The normal disclaimers of course apply.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the nature of undeclared work in South East Europe and the rest of the European Union and in doing so, to evaluate critically the validity of depicting the character of undeclared work as being the same everywhere.

Design/methodology/approach – A 2007 survey of undeclared work is reported, conducted in 27 European Union (EU) member states involving 26,659 face-to-face interviews. This paper focuses on the results of the 2,432 interviews conducted in five South East European countries, namely Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Slovenia.

Findings – In South Eastern Europe, more undeclared work is found to be waged employment and conducted by marginalised population groups out of necessity compared with other EU regions. Nevertheless, and similar to other EU regions, most undeclared work is conducted on an own-account basis, rather than as waged employment, for close social relations, rather than anonymous employers, and out of choice rather than necessity, although different mixtures prevail in different places and populations both within South Eastern Europe and across the EU as a whole.

Research limitations/implications – This recognition of the multifarious work relations and motives involved in undeclared work, and different mixtures in varying populations, displays the need to move beyond treating undeclared work as everywhere the same and towards nuanced spatially sensitive representations.

Practical implications – Given the proportion of undeclared work conducted on an own-account basis and for closer social relations, this paper reveals that if South East European governments continue to seek its eradication, they will deter with one hand precisely the entrepreneurship and mutual aid that with another they are seeking to nurture.

Originality/value – This is the first evaluation of undeclared work in South East Europe and the EU.

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