The EESC agrees with the proposal in the final report of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE, May 2022) and the resolution of the EP (9 June 2022), to add a social progress protocol (SPP) to the Treaties. This would help ensure that fundamental social rights are effectively protected in the event of conflict with economic freedoms. The EESC considers the SPP to be essential in order to strengthen the autonomy of the social partners, linking, on the one hand, the proper functioning of the single market and economic freedoms, including fair competition between the Member States and, on the other hand, respect and promotion of collective social rights. A SPP will enable the EU to be a leader when it comes to economic growth, the well-being of its citizens, and robust and sustainable businesses.
Fair work in the platform economy (Exploratory opinion at the request of the German presidency) - Related Opinions
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In this opinion, requested by the upcoming Spanish presidency of the EU, the EESC is exploring the consequences of precarious working conditions on the mental health of workers.
- strongly upholds the evidence showing that precarious work increases the chances of worker´s mental health deteriorating and it is incompatible with the achievement of SDGs in the EU: it is a public health issue that has to be eradicated
- stresses that combating work-related psychosocial risks at the source, using organisational interventions to reshape working conditions, is an essential first step in promoting mental health in the workplace as has highlighted by WHO and ILO
- proposes adopting specific EU legislation on preventing psychosocial risk as well as developing and modernising the current directive on occupational safety and health
The EESC welcomes the European Commission's proposal for a Directive on improving working conditions in platform work. The EESC underlined that the platform economy opens up opportunities for both businesses and workers but also raises concerns, which need to be addressed at European and national level and through collective bargaining. The EESC deems it necessary to ensure equal treatment between "traditional" companies and those using digital means based on the functions of algorithmic management, when used to manage work organisation and employment relations: direction, control and/or organisational power. The EESC supports the aim of the European Commission's legislative proposal to address the very diverse regulations in the Member States on the legal classification of the employment relationship.
In the rapid transformation process of the global industrial landscape, digitisation has assumed a fundamental strategic function. It now covers the entire cycle of the value chain of products and services and involves both large enterprises as well as small enterprises and micro enterprises. In this process, the need for flexibility and speed of adaptation often lead to the need to outsource parts of the production process to professionals who often have the position of "freelancers".
The EESC supports transparent and predictable working conditions for all workers, including in atypical employment, as a concrete step towards implementing the European Social Pillar. The definition of worker and employer should be clarified in the Commission's proposal and on-demand workers be guaranteed a minimum number of hours or pay. The EESC finds the provisions relating to minimum requirements relating to working conditions acceptable, but recommends clarification of certain aspects, recommending a strong role for social dialogue and that responsibility be left up to the national level.
Delivering on balanced economic growth and social progress should be the guiding principle for the debate on the social dimension of Europe. A clear road map for the implementation of European Pillar of Social Rights is advisable with clear assignment of tasks coupled with accountability. The social dimension debate is connected to the debate on deepening the EMU. Social policy has to be embedded in a different EU economic policy. A strong EU can shape globalisation and digitalisation to the benefit of all.
The nature of work and employment relationships is developing rapidly. The impact on the labour market and standards, economy, tax and social security systems and the living wage need to be assessed and grey areas in rights and protections addressed. The challenge is to encourage innovation and deliver positive outcomes for a sustainable and competitive social market economy. The EESC considers it a priority to develop social welfare models adapted to cover more flexible forms of employment. This should be given consideration in the development of the EU Pillar of Social Rights.
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