Since the early 2000s, the ‘new social risks’ approach has shifted the focus in welfare analysis from so-called old social risks to the so-called new social risks related to recent changes in the labour market and family structures. This approach captures a number of important changes in contemporary societies. However, it fails to capture fully the fact that European economies confront a wide range of contradictory pressures to cope with increased levels of uncertainty, while also responding to their populations’ demands for security and social cohesion. Industrial relations, employment laws and policies and social policies are confronted with new challenges and brought into a new relationship to each other. In the present paper the authors present a new framework to examine these changing relationships. They argue that uncertainty is governed by the way in which public and private policy-makers redistribute uncertainty through various modes of governance across time, place and categories of person.