Social Agenda Issue 53 - EN

All workers should benefit from a safety net that enables them to take risks Effective social protection for all Social protection systems are a key component of Europe’s economic and social model. However, they were often designed to suit stable, medium-to long-term employment with a single employer. This is reflected both in the criteria for having access to these systems and in the way they are financed. But what if full-time open-ended contracts become less prevalent in the future, partly as a result of technological change? How could these systems be adapted to future developments and provide a safety net that enables workers to navigate in a changing world of work that requires taking more risks? The 2018 Employment and Social Developments in Europe review presents the different reform options and possible trade- offs that policy-makers are facing when they try to modernise social protection systems. Its aim is to trigger a debate with stakeholders on these issues. Stability In whatever way the world of work will change in the future, modern social protection systems should provide stability – of income, in particular - for workers who are forced to change jobs or who choose to pursue a new career path. In this way, these systems would enable workers and their families to make the most of the new opportunities that may emerge. Indeed, flexible new forms of work can offer the unemployed or the inactive new entry points into the labour market. At the same time, workers that are displaced by new technologies may require support via income replacement benefits or retraining. The same applies to workers who make more frequent transitions from one job to another throughout their careers. Out of a job Non-standard employment may partly come to redefining the notion of being “out of a job”. In many EU countries, workers in non-standard employment or the self-employed may find themselves formally excluded from specific social protection benefits. Alternatively, such workers may be formally covered but find it more difficult to fulfil the criteria, regarding work history or prior contributions, for enjoying SPECIAL FEATURE Standard or non-standard workers? As careers become less linear, the transparency of workers’ entitlements to social protection becomes all the more important © Belga Image 2 0 / SOC I A L AG E NDA / NOV E MB E R 2 0 1 8