Since it has no powers to intervene in the domestic social security systems of its Member States, the European Union has “recommended” to the Member States to ensure that all workers have access to social protection. On 8 November, the Council definitively adopted a recommendation – a non-binding legal instrument – implementing Principle no. 12 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. This text states that “regardless of the type and duration of their employment relationship, workers, and, under comparable conditions, the self-employed have the right to adequate social protection”. The recommendation notes that “some non-standard workers and some self-employed persons have insufficient access” to social protection, which in the long run could “put at risk the welfare and health of individuals”, “contribute to increasing economic uncertainty, the risk of poverty and inequalities” or “reduce trust in institutions”.
Member States should “guarantee access to all branches (unemployment benefits; sickness and healthcare benefits; maternity and equivalent paternity benefits; invalidity benefits; old-age benefits and survivors’ benefits; benefits in respect of accidents at work and occupational diseases)”. Employees should enjoy mandatory cover against these risks, and the self-employed should have at least voluntary access. Member States are also recommended to ensure that “entitlements – whether they are acquired through mandatory or voluntary schemes – are preserved, accumulated and/or transferable across all types of employment and self-employment statuses and across economic sectors, throughout the person’s career or during a certain reference period and between different schemes within a given social protection branch”.
Member States have 18 months to implement these recommendations.