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Increase in EU employment law legislation due to “European Pillar of Social Rights”

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On 17 November 2017, the EU proclaimed the so-called European Pillar of Social Rights, a set of 20 key principles and rights delivering new and more effective rights for citizens. It has 3 main categories: (i) equal opportunities and access to the labour market, (ii) dynamic labour markets and fair working conditions and (iii) public support / social protection and inclusion.

The Pillar is the first set of social rights proclaimed by EU institutions since the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the year 2000. To put the 20 rights and principles into practice, the Commission launched concrete initiatives at European level.

The European Pillar of Social Rights is accompanied by a ‘social scoreboard’ which will monitor the implementation of the Pillar by tracking trends and performances across EU countries and will feed into the European Semester of economic policy coordination. The Scoreboard allows to zoom in on performance of EU Member States on social issues over time, monitor convergence between EU Member States and general trends and compare the performance of each of the Member States at a given moment in time.

The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, committed to the Pillar in her speech before the European Parliament in Strasbourg in July 2019 and in her political guidelines for the mandate of the new European Commission, announcing further actions to implement the principles and rights.

While many of the tools to deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights are in the hands of Member States, as well as social partners and civil society, the European Union institutions are determined to set the framework and giving the direction.

The European Pillar of Social Rights has recently led to the creation of the European Labour Authority (ELA) and the adoption of two Directives on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions and on work-life balance for parents and carers.

ELA was recently created to ensure that EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way (17 million Europeans currently live or work in another EU country). ELA helps enforcing rules on labour mobility and social security coordination.

The recent Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions is also direct follow-up to the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. It sets new rights for all workers, particularly addressing insufficient protection for workers in more precarious jobs, while limiting burdens on employers and maintaining labour market adaptability. The Directive has a broad personal scope of application. It aims to ensure that these rights cover all workers in all forms of work, including those in the most flexible non-standard and new forms of work such as zero-hour contracts, casual work, domestic work, voucher-based work or platform work.

The recent Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers aims to increase the participation of women in the labour market and the take-up of family-related leave and flexible working arrangements. The new Directive also provides opportunities for workers to be granted leave to care for relatives who need support.

More direct follow-up to the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights has already been announced, such as a European minimum wage, a further improving of labour conditions of platform workers and a European Unemployment Benefit Reinsurance Scheme (reducing pressure on public finances during external shocks).

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