Labour MP flirts with Danish work-model

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Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson has expressed his interest in an alternative employment model – one which would mean big changes for HR if it ever came to fruition.

“We are looking at the Danish Flexi Security model; at the universal basic income ideas,” he told Politik, before expressing some reservations.

“I think that the universal basic income has got a long way to go before anyone could legitimately say it was an answer,” he said, “but the ideas that lie behind it are really important which is providing that income security at a time of volatility.”

Despite his minor misgivings, the Wellington MP said the Commission is considering flexi security – or “flexicurity” – seriously.

In Denmark, workers pay high taxes and have less job security but, should they be laid off, they can access a relatively generous unemployment pay and can rely on getting a new job fairly quickly or receiving education while they’re out of work.

The system also offers flexible rules for hiring and firing which would mean employers could dismiss workers with ease during downturns and hire new staff when things improve – about 25 per cent of Danish private sector workers change jobs each year.

The aim of the model is to promote employment security over job security, benefiting employers by ensuring they have access to a flexible labour force while offering employees a benefit system safety net.

"There's a sense of insecurity about work and about what work will look like and … about what needs to be done to ensure there are still decent jobs available for people," said the former deputy leader.

Robertson is scheduled to attend a major HR event in Paris later today, where over 300 academics, business leaders, and politicians will discuss strategies to build more resilient labour markets.

The event has attracted a global following, with ministers from more than 40 OECD and partner countries convening.

“All over the world countries are grappling with how to ensure the future of work is fair and prosperous for all, and they will be sharing those ideas at the forum,” Robertson said.

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