European labour-market patterns tend to contain a growing element of flexible employment, which deviates from the norm of the secure, lifelong career. What do we mean by flexible work? Dex and McCullogh (1997) offer the following definition: ‘Flexible work … is a description of a change in the distribution of labour market jobs, away from standard full-time permanent employee contracts, and towards a growth in various types of non-standard employment forms.’ Pollert (1988) argues that flexibility refers to a combination of different factors. It involves firms being flexible enough to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to technological and economic changes; it also refers to organisations that are flexible in terms of employee numbers. In addition, it refers to a workforce that is multi-skilled and/or flexible with regard to time. This may result in a trend for firms to retain ‘core ’employees who work flexibly, with a periphery of employees who are flexible because they are irregularly employed. The result of this process is that employment is no longer as stable as it was. The development of the new, flexible labour market undermines security, leading to the so-called ‘risk society’ (Crompton et al.,1996).