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Informal meeting of employment and social policy ministers
Informal meeting of employment and social policy ministers
BKA/Hans Hofer

Federal Minister Hartinger-Klein: New protection for new forms of work – #eu2018at

Published 20 Jul 13:15

Informal meeting of employment and social policy ministers – Focus on the opportunities of digitalisation and new forms of work

"Increasing digitalisation will change European labour markets. Digitalisation plays a role in people having to do less dangerous, physically demanding and monotone work. Some forms of work will disappear. The upside of this change is that four out of five of the jobs needed in 2030 have supposedly not yet been created. And that is why we must identify the new opportunities early on and adapt regulations as necessary. Only by doing so can we secure both our competitiveness and prosperity”,

Federal Minister Hartinger‑Klein said in a joint statement with EU Commissioner Marianne Thyssen at the end of the informal meeting of employment and social policy ministers on 19 and 20 July 2018 in Vienna. The meeting was attended by ministers from the 28 EU member states, the EFTA States as well as numerous representatives from EU institutions, the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and from the European social partners and civil society.

Social and labour law protection and individual support are priorities in the work of the Federal Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection. “We must address new forms of work, such as platform work, and where necessary, take measures in the interest of workers”, Federal Minister Hartinger‑Klein said, who also underscored the potential benefits of platform work:

“Due to its low barriers to entry, platform work has the scope to enable people outside the labour market to enter it. Digitalisation and the resulting new forms of work also offer huge opportunities for people with reduced mobility. We must seize these opportunities”.

Participants agreed that a clear definition of new forms of work under labour and potentially social legislation is called for, as the categorisation of people into employees and the self‑employed is no longer sufficient.

A study conducted by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) shows that the employment status of platform workers is often unclear. The level of social protection is comparatively low.

“Given the growing level of individualisation, digitalisation and flexibility, employment and social policy ministers and the social partners face a greater need to consider the aspect of worker participation and corporate co‑determination”, the minister stressed. “In many cases, this concerns the rights and obligations of workers and their social protection and access to representation.”

Intensive discussions of this topic will be continued on 19 September in Vienna. Digitalisation and robotics will also be on the agenda of the informal meetings of the employment and social protection committees that will take place in Vienna in September. It is planned to formulate key messages for the formal meeting of employment and social policy ministers in December 2018. “My aim is to advance as much as possible the deliberations on the social protection of platform workers before the next European Parliament elections,” said Federal Minister Hartinger‑Klein.

The use of new technologies, especially in the area of robotics, was also discussed at the informal meeting.

“Robotics can take over complex und physically challenging tasks. Robots are able to interpret simple emotional basic patterns of human beings, but they are not able to fully replace social competencies in the workplace. This is especially valid for the care of the elderly. When developing new standards in robotics, social scientists and ethicists need to be involved even more strongly in standardisation work on an international and European level, in order to evaluate advantages and disadvantages of automisation in an interdisciplinary way”, the minister underlined.

The European Union can contribute substantially to the facilitation of technological change, and, with its financial instruments, European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), to the promotion of workers’ qualifications. “According to the common principles enshrined in the European pillar of social rights, the EU can encourage its member states to take into account the social aspects of change”, Federal Minister Beate Hartinger‑Klein emphasised. Active policymaking and continued research are necessary to qualitatively and quantitatively secure work in the long term.    

Official photos of this event will be published on the official Flickr channel.

More information about the event can be found on the event page.

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Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection


Axel Ganster
Spokesperson for the Federal Minister
+43 1 71 100-86 24 56