The European Commission presents study results on access to social security

VS – 05/2022

A study commissioned by the European Commission examined access of youth aged between 15 and 29 to social security in the EU and eight other European countries. Gaps were particularly evident for platform workers, unpaid internships, or other atypical employment.

Council recommendation on access to social security also applies to youth

The 2019 Council recommendation on access of employed and self-employed workers to social security recommends that Member States ensure that all workers and self-employed persons have access to various social security systems and can build up and claim entitlements. The recommendation is based on the European Pillar of Social Rights (ESSR).

Nevertheless, youth represent a particularly vulnerable group. It is true that most of the social security systems examined do not provide for age restrictions. However, many countries have requirements for qualifying periods that entitle people to receive social security benefits in the first place. Youth are more likely than older people not to meet these minimum periods because they are still at the beginning of their working lives. However, they also do not meet them because often (unpaid) internships, training and education programmes, vocational training or even self-employment are not counted towards the qualifying periods. These are employment relationships in which most of the youth are employed.

Youth work in atypical employment relationships

Youth workers on platforms, unpaid internships or other atypical employment are particularly affected. These atypical employment relationships often do not contribute to old-age provision, or only to a very limited extent, and usually have no or only inadequate accident insurance cover. Youth in such atypical employment are also more likely to be excluded from contributory maternity, paternity, and parental leave benefits. Non-contributory cash benefits can be received for this purpose in only 13 countries (twelve of which are in the EU). Young parents are therefore dependent on access to contributory benefits in most countries.

In contrast, there are hardly any differences in healthcare services and health insurance coverage: in almost all of the countries surveyed, youth have health insurance, and there are hardly any differences in the scope of insurance benefits compared with 30 to 64-year-olds.

New forms of work pose challenges to the social security system

New forms of work, such as platform employment, mostly affect the youth. They often offer a variety of new opportunities in work design that are particularly attractive to youth. However, these new forms of work are often accompanied by restrictions on social security. To address this, and building on the Council's recommendation, the European Commission presented a proposal for a directive on platform employment on 9 December 2021, with the aim of ensuring access to social and labour protection for platform workers.

German Social Insurance has already commented on this in the consultation process (you can find the link here).

You can find the study under the following link.