Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Access to social protection


Everyone needs social protection at some point in their lives. However, in practice not all members of the society can access it with equal ease. The rules that govern entitlement to social protection have been traditionally tailored to workers in full-time, permanent employment for a recognised employer. As a result, the self-employed or people in non-standard employment relationship can find themselves without adequate social protection coverage. 

Policy Response

Principle 12 of the European Pillar of Social Rights stresses that regardless of the type and duration of their employment relationship, workers, and, under comparable conditions, the self-employed, have the right to adequate social protection.

Council recommendation on access to social protection

As part of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed was adopted in November 2019, following a proposal by the Commission made in March 2018. The Impact Assessment produced by the Commission to support the proposal of the Recommendation includes the mapping of access to the main social protection schemes, analysis of impact and effect of extending access and country case studies.

The objective is to support people in non-standard forms of employment and self-employment who, due to their employment status, are not sufficiently covered by social security schemes and thus are exposed to higher economic uncertainty.

The Council Recommendation aims to encourage EU countries to:

  • allow non-standard workers and the self-employed to adhere to social security schemes (closing formal coverage gaps).
  • take measures allowing them to build up and take up adequate social benefits as members of a scheme (effective and adequate coverage) and facilitating the transfer of social security benefits between schemes.
  • increase transparency regarding social security systems and rights.

The Recommandation covers social security schemes for unemployment, sickness and healthcare, maternity or paternity, accidents at work and occupational diseases, disability and old age.

Within the framework of the Social Protection Committee, the Commission supports Member States and stakeholders in achieving the objectives of the recommendation

The Commission will report to the Council on the implementation of the Recommendation by the end of 2022.

National plans

Member States were recommended to implement the principles of the Recommendation and to submit a plan setting out the corresponding measures to be taken at national level by 15 May 2021.

The national plans submitted by Member States during 2021 can be found below. By clicking on each country, you can access the respective national plan, in English and for some countries in the national language(s):


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