Precarious work and mental health

EESC opinion: Precarious work and mental health

Key points


  • strongly believes in the evidence showing that precarious work increases the chances of workers' mental health deteriorating;
  • acknowledges that precarious working arrangements are rarely a voluntary choice, although there are workers who choose them;
  • draws attention to the fact that precarious work is more prevalent among workers in manual labour jobs, women, young people and migrants. This adds to social inequalities and can multiply discrimination and the social gradient of mental illness;
  • believes that precarious work is incompatible with the achievement of the SDGs in the EU;
  • proposes, to reduce precarious work and the prevalence of the associated mental health problems, to make sure that the European and national legislation establishing quality, healthy working and employment conditions is fully implemented and enforced;
  • proposes to step up measures to monitor and audit compliance with this legislation, subject to adequate resources being allocated to the competent public authority and to ensure appropriate financial sanctions for non-compliance;
  • proposes to introduce debarment from public procurement tenders and public aid for businesses and organisations that do not guarantee compliance with this legislation, in line with the current public procurement Directives;
  • proposes to adopt specific legislation on preventing psychosocial risks at EU level, as well as developing and modernising the Directive on Occupational Safety and Health (89/391/EEC), implementing prevention of occupational psychosocial risks at the source, and changing the way work is designed, managed and organised, since scientific evidence has shown that specific national legislation in this field is a more effective form of preventative action and of reducing exposure to these risks. Its benefits could therefore be extended to all EU countries by a directive;
  • proposes to combat identified work-related psychosocial risks at the source, using organisational interventions to reshape working conditions, in line with what was outlined by the WHO and the ILO in their guidelines and policy brief of September 2022;
  • proposes to support the ongoing negotiations on the 2021 proposal for a Directive on improving working conditions in platform work and to develop appropriate approaches to manage the use of artificial intelligence at work in a way which prevents occupational risks and the undermining of other labour rights;
  • proposes that an industrial policy at European and national level be designed in order to create quality jobs that ensure healthy working conditions and improve competitiveness.