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
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.