17. 1. 2018

European Pillar of Social Rights

By proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, brought into effect one of his ten priorities, mentioned in his State of the Union address in 2015, i.e. to determine fundamental minimal social rights.


In the light of these new principles or rights, Slovenia will have to strive, in particular, to address the problems of low inclusion of adults in the formal and informal educational and training programmes, to increase active support to first employment and unemployment, to address the income and pensions of older people in order to fight poverty, and to improve social security in general.


EPSR includes 20 principles and rights and its content is divided into three parts or chapters. In Chapter I “Equal opportunities and access to the labour market” four principles are emphasised: (i) education, training and life-long learning; (ii) gender equality, (iii) equal opportunities and (iv) active support to employment. Chapter II “Fair working conditions” includes six principles: (i) secure and adaptable employment (the concept flexicurity is maintained, promoting permanent employment with the measures allowing employers to adapt swiftly to changes in the economic context); (ii) wages (the idea of pan-European minimal wage was abandoned because the right to wage is tied to national economic and social conditions, the Member States having to take into account that the minimal wage has to prevent poverty of the employees), (iii) information about employment conditions and protection in case of dismissals, (iv) social dialogue and involvement of workers (social dialog on the European and national levels was significantly reduced due to economic crisis), (v) work-life balance, (vi) healthy, safe and well-adapted work environment and data protection. In terms of substance, Chapter III “Social protection and inclusion” is the most extensive, since it includes ten principles or rights: (i) childcare and support to children, (ii) social protection, (iii) unemployment benefits, (iv) minimum income, (v) old age income and pensions, (vi) health care, (vii) inclusion of people with disabilities, (viii) long-term care, (ix) housing and assistance for the homeless and (x) access to essential services.


And what is a legal nature of the EPSR? Even though EPSR is not a legally binding document, European Commission must consider it as a recommendation or principled programme when developing EU social policies and legislation. European Commission has already reached a political agreement regarding the reform of the Posting of Workers Directive the purpose of which is to implement the principle of equal pay for equal work at the same place. In 2018 the Commission will launch a European Labour Authority with the aim of strengthening cooperation between labour market authorities, especially in cross-border situations, such as labour mobility. It was also announced that the Directive 91/533/EEC on an employer's obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employment relationship will also be extended to all other atypical (civil) labour contracts. The Commission also announced that it will propose other initiatives in support of fair mobility, such as European Social Security Number, Electronic System of Social Security Information.


It is expected that EPSR will act as a guidance to form single European social security framework and to encourage individual Member States to improve working and living conditions. Even though many principles are drafted as a programme, in some places the wording of the EPSR is rather specific and contains clear guidelines that Member States will have to take into consideration when amending national legislation.

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