The changing nature of employment relationships and its impact on maintaining a living wage (exploratory opinion requested by the Dutch presidency)

EESC opinion: The changing nature of employment relationships and its impact on maintaining a living wage (exploratory opinion requested by the Dutch presidency)

Key points

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 creativity 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.

The EESC recommends further data and analysis on:

  • the changing nature of work and employment relationships to inform EU employment policy;
  • the impact of these developments on skills;
  • the lifetime implications of new forms of work, whether they are gendered or related to other demographic variables (such as age, disability, ethnicity and migrant status);
  • the impact on collective bargaining coverage, and the right to freedom of association needs to be assessed and concerns to be addressed and remedied.

EESC requests and/or recommends:

  • clarification of the legal status of new labour market intermediaries and which standards, obligations, liabilities and rules of operation should apply;
  • that new forms of employment relationships be addressed should the EU Commission decide to revisit the Written Statement Directive;
  • that issues relating to regulation of the activity of the intermediary, liability for accidents, damage and service failures in relation to on-line platforms, crowdsourcing, economically dependent self-employed and other new forms of self-employment be addressed;
  • clarification of the applicability of existing EU regulations on safety and health at work for these new forms of employment, procedures for dealing with breaches of these regulations, responsibilities for inspection and for workers', consumers' and public liability insurance;
  • labour inspectorates should be ensured a role and given the resources and training to fulfil this role;
  • an investigation into the contractual status of crowd workers and other new forms of work and employment relationships;
  • guidelines to clarify possible grey zones linked to employment status in relation to taxation and social insurance;
  • that the European Commission, the OECD and the ILO work together with the social partners to develop appropriate provisions on decent working conditions and protection for online workers;
  • any concerns over collective bargaining coverage and the right to freedom of association need to be addressed and remedied;
  • EU employment policy agenda underpins the digital transformation of our economies and labour markets and aims to maximise quality employment and protect and re-skill / up-skill those who will be affected by digitalisation;
  • that effective rights and protections, monitoring and enforcement are put in place to avoid widening income inequalities and reduction in disposable incomes and ensure the sustainable and potential for economic growth across the EU;
  • encouraging the development of European platforms, so value created remains in local economies.