EAPN presents its members’ analysis of the future of work – labour market trends and their implications for risks of poverty and social exclusion.
The world of work is rapidly changing, and the recent economic and financial crisis as well as its aftermath, have rendered these changes more visible. Current research tends to emphasize the inevitability of these changes, but the choices made are ultimately political. Governments have a key responsibility to intervene to shape new developments. Atypical forms of labour: with insecure contracts, hours and pay, as well as new models of outsourcing, and often bogus self-employment have proliferated, leaving many people without adequate employment and social protection.
Technological advances, particularly in Information & Communication Technology (ICT), have led to the emergence of the ‘digital economy’ (also called ‘platform’ / ‘collaborative’ or ‘sharing’ economy), as well as to manufacturing tasks being progressively taken over by intelligent machines, displacing workers. This type of economy was born out of innovative patterns of service provision, often aided by ICT, but is now undermining conventional business models, as well as the very role of employment. The priority given to increasing competitiveness and company profits at whatever cost to worker and social rights, in an ever more globalised and interdependent world has increased delocalisation, a primary driver of social dumping. This results in downward pressure on labour and social protection standards and has an inevitable impact on poverty, social exclusion and inequality.
In such a context, a number of questions emerge, relevant to EAPN’s mission:
- What is happening on the ground?
- What is the impact of new ways of work on employment and social protection, particularly for people experiencing poverty or at risk of poverty?
- Who are the winners and the losers?
- What key messages and recommendations can we derive from our members’ direct experience on the ground?
Throughout 2017, EAPN’s EU Inclusion Strategies Group (EU ISG) has undertaken a thorough reflective dialogue around these new phenomena, to address the questions above and build consensus within our membership about possible answers and solutions to existing challenges, old and new.
This EAPN paper deepens the depiction of new labour market trends as currently reflected in EU documents, such as the Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2017 report (ESDE), and the European Pillar of Social Rights, with our own members’ analysis of realities on the ground. It strives to capture the real situation of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and defines key messages for better incorporating and addressing these realities in EU and national policy-making in the fields of employment and social inclusion.
Key Messages are detailed under these headings
- Better research on new ways of work, including social impact assessment
- Step up quality of work including the quality of contractual arrangements, ensuring access to social protection
- End punitive activation which is pushing people into unsustainable employment
- Tackle the digital divide and ensure equal access to lifelong learning
- Improve social and civil dialogue for evidence-based policy solutions
This analysis paper was drafted by Dr. Katherine Duffy (EAPN UK) and Amana Ferro (EAPN Europe). It draws on in-depth discussions and exchanges held during three EU ISG meetings in 2017, further building on information collected from members in Spring 2017. The final version was amended and endorsed by the EU ISG in October 2017 including Key Messages and Recommendations for policy-makers, to be used at national and EU level.
EAPN’s event at the Annual Convention for Inclusive Growth
THE FUTURE OF WORK AND THE EUROPEAN PILLAR OF SOCIAL RIGHTS
This side event, organised by EAPN, the European Economic & Social Committee, the ETUC, and Solidar, looked at new ways of work, and changes to labour markets – crucial topics for the policy debate around the future of Europe. It explored the key role the European Pillar of Social Rights can play in responding to these new trends and in tackling associated challenges, to ensure quality and sustainable work and the fight against poverty and inequality. It is a timely and crucial discussion also in light of the Social Fairness Package, while also looking at the European Semester as key framework for implementation. See the event materials, here.
Related Key Documents
- EAPN Position Paper: Make Social Rights the Beating Heart of Europe!: on the European Pillar of Social Rights;
- Report of the 2017 EU Meeting of people experiencing poverty: Let’s tackle in-work poverty!;
- Key messages of the event The Future of Work and the European Pillar of Social Rights.
For more information about this side-event, or about this analysis, please contact Senior Policy Officer Amana Ferro in the EAPN Europe staff team.
Amana Ferro spoke at a European Commission event on 5 February in Brussels, to discuss ethical issues arising in the new world of work that is being ushered in by digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence. This article in Horizon Magazine was then written.