The European Commission publishes package on the European Pillar of Social Rights

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(27 April 2017) The European Commission’s proposals to build a European pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) are a small step in the right direction, says EPSU. The plans for more and paid parental, paternity and care leave are welcome. They will not however ensure a rapid closing of the gender pay and pensions gap though. Not addressing maternity leave is a missed opportunity. More enforcement of equal pay for women and men is necessary.

 The EPSR package does not herald an end to austerity policies. It does not meet fully workers’ expectations and the enforceability of the rights and principles of the social pillar is not outlined. There are no measures to strengthen collective bargaining which has been undermined by cuts in public spending, wage freezes and even cuts. We at EPSU are disappointed that the Commission did not come with more concrete proposals to deal with the increase in low paid and precarious jobs. They also failed to address the challenges facing the self-employed.  Disappointingly many Member States and employers are already seeking to block these small steps forward. They are kicking and screaming to prevent any substantial improvements in working conditions of EU workers. EPSU will continue to work with the ETUC to fight these attempts to halt change. We are determined to seek improvements and more concrete action and initiatives, in relation to a more social Europe.

Several consultations have been launched as part of this new EPSR initiative, including a review of the Written Statement Directive, as well as other regulatory and legislative measures offering workers social protection, in various employment situations. EPSU believes there needs to be political commitment and speedy progress made on these consultations, to ensure they lead to tangible results.

The Commission has also published its interpretation on the Working Time Directive that will require close scrutiny. The directive deals with the concept of on-call duty and says travel time between visits to patients is working time. This is important for many workers  such as those employed in home care. Employers want to avoid paying for this working time, which is unacceptable. EPSU will bring its Working Time Directive advisory group together to analyse the Commission’s reading of the Directive and the relevant case law.

For the reaction of the ETUC

For the positions of the workers' group in the EESC

For the Commission’s proposals

  • Here are the documents relating directly to the EPSR.

1. The Communication on an EPSR – providing the context and rationale for the Pillar of Rights; 10 pages (

2. Commission Recommendation on establishing the EPSR – outlines the 20 principles of the consultation documents, many of which have been strengthened as rights; 9 pages (

3. Draft Joint Proclamation to be – same text as item 2, but to be adopted by the Commission, Parliament and Member States by the end of the year. This will then replace item 2; (

4. Staff Working Document, explanatory fiches on each principle – some legal context building; 78 pages (

5. Summary Report on the Consultation; 53 pages (

  • Secondly, there are the documents relating to the Social Scoreboard tool that was launched today (see online tool here):

6. Staff Working Document on Scoreboard Methodology; 6 pages (

These were followed by documents relating to specific proposals/legislative initiatives.

  • Work/life balance for parents and carers: This is a proposal for a legislative initiative in the form of a Draft Directive

7. Communication on work/life balance initiative; 16 pages (

8. Proposal for a Directive; 29 pages (

9. Annex to proposal to show changes; 3 pages (

10. Accompanying statement by the Commission; 2 pages (

11. Work/life balance fact sheet; 2 pages (

  • Access to social protection for all employment types: This is a proposal for a legislative initiative at first stage consultation

12. First phase consultation for Social Partners; 21 pages (

  • Written Statement Directive: This is a proposal for a legislative initiative at first stage consultation

13. First phase consultation with Social Partners; 16 pages )

14. Staff Working Document -REFIT Evaluation; 48 pages (

  • Working Time Directive: This is not a legislative initiative it is ‘Interpretative communication’ and is presented as a final document

15. Interpretative Communication on the Working Time Directive; 78 pages (

16. Staff Working Document accompanying; 48 pages (

17. Implementation Report; 14 pages (

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