Hybrid work organisation in the construction sector in Bulgaria: employees or sub-contractors?
The article investigates the hybrid employment and work-organisation practices contributing to the flexibilisation of the construction-sector labour market in Bulgaria. Although it is commonly assumed that the formal economy is separate from the informal economy, authors such as Williams (2003) draw attention to a “hybrid”, semi-formal work practice where formal employees receive two wages from their formal employer: one declared and the other – undeclared. We argue that in the context of South-Eastern Europe this phenomenon is accompanied by other arrangements blurring the boundary between formality and informality. In the construction sector in Bulgaria work teams (“brigades”) are formally employed by a construction company, but de facto act as sub-contractors, as the brigade “leader” negotiates the terms and conditions with the employer, manages the team and distributes its wages. The article examines the implications of this hybridisation for the employment status, working time, and wages and job-skills using three case studies conducted in the European comparative research project WALQING (Work and Life Quality in New and Growing Jobs).