CESI on access to social protection in all forms of employment

Until January 5, the European Commission ran a second phase EU social partner consultation on possible EU measures for social protection in all forms of employment. As part of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, this followed a first phase of the consultation which ran earlier in 2017 and may result in legislative and/or non-legislative proposals by the European Commission this spring. In its second phase response, CESI advocated binding rules at the EU level for a formal and mandatory effective social protection coverage at an adequate level for all those economically active in de facto dependent work-relationships, including bogus self-employment.

For CESI, there is a clear added value of certain further EU action in the field of social protection. Not only have socio-economic disparities within and among Member States increased significantly during the past years – a phenomenon which after all was central to the establishment of a European Pillar of Social Rights that now also includes a right to social security for all. Also, subjecting social security only to national legal orders becomes unsuitable and inappropriate as the borders of labour markets are increasingly blurred, with more and more people working online, providing services for different employers in several Member States at the same time, or moving for work between Member States several times during their professional career.

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger added: “Lacking access to social protection is a real problem for the growing number of persons employed in the so-called new forms employment, in the platform economy and in existing non-standard and precarious work models. Any initiative by the European Commission should make sure that everyone is covered by social protection.”

For CESI it remains imperative that in line with the scope of a new directive on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union (ex-EU written statement directive), new measures are based on established case law of the Court of Justice of the EU according to which “a worker would be understood as any person who for a certain period of time performs services for and under the direction of any other natural or legal person(s) in return for which he/she received remuneration” (case 66/85 of July 3 1986).

Klaus Heeger noted: “Minimum benefit floors and contributions-to-benefit ratios -the ‘value’ of payments into the system- should be as equal as possible to those of employees under standard work contracts. A mandatory formal coverage at an adequate level will be the key factors for success.”

CESI also stressed the importance of a well-functioning EU-wide common transferability framework which will allow for transitions between different contracts or types of employment without any losses in rights and entitlements for the worker, including changes inbetween Member States and according to the principle “contributions and benefits as well as rights and obligations from day one.” Klaus Heeger added: “An EU-wide common system of individual ‘entitlements pots’ or ‘entitlement accounts’ for the various aspects of social security could be envisaged. These could follow people in the EU wherever they are economically active throughout their professional career.”

For CESI, regardless of the type of work and the place of work, entitlements and benefits should be fully transferable and traceable, which also necessitates more transparency and administrative simplicity and access to user-friendly information on rights and obligations to social protection. Klaus Heeger said: “Citizens should at any time have the possibility to get information about the different types of social security entitlements which they have accumulated during a work relationship or their career, regardless of their form of employment or the Member State they work in.”

CESI’s full contribution is available here. More information about the European Commission’s work on social protection is available on the European Commission’s website.

Logo: Klaus Heeger © CESI 2018