After consultation and a conference, the European Commission has published its Recommendation for a “compass … for upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe”. Entitled the ‘European Pillar of Social Rights’ it contains 20 principles to support what it calls a “fair and well-functioning” labour market and welfare system.
The Commission will now work with the European Parliament and the Council to achieve broad political support and the high-level endorsement of the Pillar.
The Pillar is primarily conceived for countries in the Eurozone but is applicable to all EU Members who wish to adopt the principles.
Some of the principles will require further legislation and the updating of EU laws. Eventually, the principles may be incorporated into a future EU treaty.
The 20 principles come under 3 Chapters:
- Equal Opportunities and Access to Labour Markets
- Fair Working Conditions
- Social Protection and Inclusion
Equal Opportunities and Access to Labour Markets
1. The right to education, training and lifelong learning to enable participation in the labour market.
2. Gender equality of treatment and opportunity in the labour market, in particular equal pay for equal value.
3. The right to equal opportunities regardless of gender, race, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Under-represented groups shall be “fostered”.
4. The right to personalised assistance and support to improve employment prospects before, during and after a particular employment.
Fair Working Conditions
5. The right to secure and stable employment through fair working conditions, flexibility and innovation while preventing employment relationships that result in precarious working conditions, atypical contracts or over long probations.
6. The right to a fair wage that provides a decent standard of living in the local context including adequate minimum wages and transparent and predictable wage setting.
7. The right to receive written information at the start of the employment about worker rights and obligations and, on a dismissal, the reasons for that dismissal.
8. The rights to worker involvement and consultation on matters relevant to them.
9. The right to a work life balance, particularly for those with caring responsibilities.
10. The right to a high level of protection for health and safety in a working environment adapted to workers’ professional needs.
Social Protection and Inclusion
11. The rights for children to have affordable early education and care and, for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the right to specific measures to enhance employment opportunities.
12. The right to adequate social protection for workers and self-employed.
13. The right for the unemployed to support from public employment services in line with their contributions provided that support does not become a disincentive to return quickly to work.
14. The right to minimum adequate income benefits ensuring a life in dignity at all stages.
15. The right to a pension equivalent to their contribution and ensuring an adequate income.
16. The right to good quality health care.
17. The right to inclusion and support for disabled people.
18. The right to affordable long term care.
19. The right of access to social housing, appropriate support for the vulnerable and, in particular, the homeless.
20. The right of access to essential services of good quality including utilities, transport, financial services and digital communications.