Council addresses mental health in low-paid work

UM – 07/2023

Increased risk of poverty

Workers are poorly paid, lack social protection, and have no prospects for the future. Precarious employment is rarely chosen voluntarily. You cannot live off it. But not everyone has a choice. The prevalence of precarious employment depends, among other things, on gender, age, migration status, social class or disability. They are also often found in work structures shaped by digitisation, such as platform work.

Are men more depressed?

It has been known for a long time: Precarious work makes people ill. According to the "Health in Germany today” representative survey conducted by the Robert Koch Institute in 2012, precariously employed women reported 35 per cent more days with physical complaints than women with secure jobs. For men, the figure is 49 per cent. The difference is even greater for emotional complaints. Profile studies, from Korea have also indicated that the risk of developing depressive symptoms during precarious employment is higher amongst men than amongst women. The exact reasons are still unknown.

Spanish Presidency is committed

The EU council now wants to propose conclusions to its member states that will focus on the psychological risks of precarious employment. A draft  will be presented for discussion in order to lend weight to this issue shortly before the council presidency baton is handed over from Sweden to Spain. It also refers to the EC's communication about a comprehensive approach to mental health, published on 7 June as well as the Opinion of the European Economic Committee (EESC) of 27 April about "Precarious work and mental health". The future Spanish Presidency of the Council is also currently having an Exploratory opinion prepared by the EESC to explore appropriate measures that will improve mental health.

Mental health and working time

Special reference is made in the draft to  Directive 2003/88/EU from the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003  about certain aspects of working time. The inclusion of mental health aspects in the monitoring and implementing of this Directive appears to draw attention to and place emphasis on issued related to how working time is organised.

This is how it continues

The draft conclusions were presented on 3 July. Proposals for amendments can be submitted until 20 July. An agreement is then to be reached in two meetings of the Council Working Group on social issues. Due to the summer break, this will happen by September at the earliest.