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Europe – European Commission seeks greater social protection for gig economy workers

14 March 2018

The European Commission has recommended that gig economy workers such as Deliveroo couriers and Uber drivers, should be entitled to benefits such as unemployment benefits and maternity leave.

In its proposal for access to social protection, the commission announced that its objective is to support people in non-standard forms of employment and self-employment who, due to their employment status, are not sufficiently covered by social security schemes and thus are exposed to higher economic uncertainty. The commission aims to encourage countries to allow non-standard workers and the self-employed to adhere to social security schemes (closing formal coverage gaps); to take measures allowing them to build up and take up adequate social benefits as members of a scheme (adequate effective coverage) and facilitating the transfer of social security benefits between scheme and to increase transparency regarding social security systems and rights. The proposal also covers social security schemes for unemployment, sickness and healthcare, maternity or paternity, accidents at work and occupational diseases, disability and old age.

"Offering access to social protection is crucial for the economic and social safety of the workforce and well-functioning labour markets that create jobs and sustainable growth. Nevertheless, there is a growing number of people who, due to their type of employment relationship or form of self-employment, are left without sufficient access to social protection," the commission stated.

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented, "Our work to ensure fair labour mobility culminates in today's proposal for a European Labour Authority. This is essential for a well-functioning European labour market. It will help citizens and businesses on the move find the right information and strengthen cooperation between the member states to enforce fair and effective rules.  And with our proposal on access to social protection, we are working with member states to make sure that nobody is left behind. Our aim is to ensure that people have access to adequate benefits no matter how the new world of work evolves." 

According to the European Commission, approximately 40% of EU citizens are part of the irregular labour market, which includes the self-employed and those on part-time contracts. “As labour markets evolve, social protection systems too need reforms to make our social model fit for purpose, ensuring that no one is left behind,” the commission stated. The commission added that it wants mandatory coverage for all workers however social security rules are the responsibility of the EU’s national governments rather than the commission.

Next month, Staffing Industry Analysts will present 'Collaboration in the Gig Economy'. For more information click here and to register, click here.

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