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Principle 5

Secure and adaptable employment

The labour market in Europe underwent a huge deterioration in the first half of 2020, this was initiated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures taken to prevent the contagion. Workers with unstable, low-paid and/or part time jobs (including undocumented and undeclared workers) were the first to suffer the social consequences of the pandemic.

The dramatic expansion of non-standard and insecure work in recent decades is a direct result of a business model that shifts the risks from the employer onto the worker. Transitions toward open-ended contracts are limited because taxation and legislation create a negative economic bias against standard forms of employment. As a matter of fact, indicators show neither convergence nor improvement at EU level concerning the quality of work. It is time to introduce a set of indicators that measures the quality of jobs as a sub-section of the social scoreboard. When measuring job quality, a dashboard could check for the following elements: decent wages; work security via standard employment and access to social protection; lifelong learning opportunities; decent working conditions in safe and healthy workplaces; reasonable working hours with a good work-life balance; and trade union representation and bargaining rights (see also P4). In the context of the Covid-19 crisis, a trade-off between boosting the economic activity on the one hand and creating quality jobs on the other should be avoided at all times.

Platform workers have been delivering food and goods to the homes of those in quarantine or infected by the virus. The global pandemic has shown the need for non-standard workers to have the same legal protection similar to workers with regular legal contracts, with access to preventive health and safety, social protection and all other labour rights. While fully respecting national labour market models and the autonomy of national social partners and their right to conclude collective agreements, this will be carried out through initiatives aimed at establishing and ensuring a comprehensive set of rights for all workers, including undocumented, undeclared, non-standard and self-employed workers, so that insecure workers have more power to negotiate working conditions that cater to their needs.

The legislative framework should be improved and ensure the coordinated transposition of the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive (TPWCD). Such a concerted effort should reduce the amount of time needed for transposition through the use of interprofessional agreements of national social partners.

Steps towards reducing fragmentation of the labour market will come from implementation and monitoring implementation of the EU Recommendation on Access to Social Protection (see also P13). In particular, the Social Scoreboard will monitor discrimination based on employment status (at the moment, discrimination is identified based on age, gender and educational attainment).

Actions aimed at setting a minimum floor of rights in the EU, a level playing field in the Single Market

  1. Introduce the right to fair and equal access to training for all workers regardless of their employment, immigration status and qualification levels, in the initiative on access to training (as in Principle 1).
  2. Monitor implementation of the Recommendation on Access to Social Protection and, in four years’ time, decide whether a directive would be more effective.
  3. Ensure effective implementation of the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions (TPWCD).
  4. Upcoming EU regulation on non-standard workers and workers in platform companies.
  5. Upcoming European Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion
  6. Ensure effective implementation of the Employers Sanctions Directive

Actions aimed at establishing upward convergence in living and working conditions

  1. EU Programme for Quality Employment: monitor effects of labour market segmentation and measure progress toward secure and adaptable employment, activation measures, and remove gaps based on occupational status.
  2. Assessment of the national and EU acquis in light of new forms of work and prepare for the future of work: labour guarantee, protection against unfair dismissal, right to full-time employment, workers’ sovereignty over working time.