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Access to social protection for non-standard workers and self-employed

20 December 2018

In the light of Principle 12 of the Social Pillar, the last Council of the European Union (EPSCO) meeting in December 2018 has reached an agreement on a proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for non-standard workers and self-employed.

In spite of several difficulties both on political and financial level, some steps forward towards a shy implementation of the Social Pillar are being taken. Specifically, in the light of Principle 12 of the Social Pillar, the last Council of the European Union (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council - EPSCO) meeting in December 2018 has reached an agreement on a proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for non-standard workers and self-employed.

The Commission’s proposal contained recommendations for EU Member States to “allow non-standard workers and the self-employed to adhere to social security schemes (closing formal coverage gaps); 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 schemes; increase transparency regarding social security systems and rights”. The recommendation was adopted unanimously by the Ministers.

Although CECOP welcomes the adoption of the recommendation, it is important to remind that recommendations are not binding documents. However, the political relevance of such an agreement is not negligible: in the past, Council recommendations have represented the first step for a concrete measure proposal (e.g. the Youth Guarantee).

Because of the increasing amount of cooperatives being established by non-standard workers (freelancers, self-employed etc) CECOP took part, in January 2018, in the European Commission’s consultation on this topic stressing the key role that cooperatives play in providing security for non-standard workers.

The cooperative offers a double advantage to the non-standard workers:

  • they maintain all the advantages deriving from the autonomy in the organisation of their work, relations to clients etc
  • through the democratic governance proper to cooperatives, they benefit from a series of advantages (like economies of scale) and mutualised services, consultancy and trainings, administrative and legal services, advocacy etc.).

In addition, in some of them the worker members benefit from an employee status and access to all the social rights and protection which an employee is entitled to.