EESC Opinion on Precarious work

2023 The European Economic and Social Committee was asked for a Exploratory opinion on precarious work and mental health. Below some of the conclusions and recommendations.

o   According to the European Parliament’s resolution of 4 July 2017, precarious employment is “employment which does not comply with EU, international and national standards and laws and/or does not provide sufficient resources for a decent life or adequate social protection".

o   According to robust scientific evidence, precarious work increases the chances of workers’ mental health deteriorating. For example, high job insecurity increases the chances of suffering from depression and anxiety and of suicide; high demands and a low level of control increase the chances of sick leave due to a diagnosed mental disorder; similarly, the combination of these two risks increases the likelihood of suffering from depressive disorders.

o   Precarious work is incompatible with the achievement of the SDGs in the EU.

o   In order to reduce precarious work and the prevalence of the associated mental health problems, the EESC believes that it is necessary to ensure that the European and national legislation establishing quality, healthy working and employment conditions that make it possible to live a dignified life is implemented and enforced.

o   The EESC notes the Communication on the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027 (COM(2021) 323 final). In addition, the EESC proposes adopting specific legislation on preventing psychosocial risks at EU level, as well as developing and modernising the Directive on Occupational Safety and Health (89/391/EEC), implementing prevention of occupational psychosocial risks at the source, and changing the way work is designed, managed and organised, since scientific evidence has shown that specific national legislation in this field is a more effective form of preventative action and of reducing exposure to these risks. Its benefits could therefore be extended to all EU countries by a directive.

o   The EESC takes note of and supports the ongoing negotiations on the 2021 proposal for a Directive on improving working conditions in platform work. Likewise, the EESC proposes developing appropriate approaches to manage the use of artificial intelligence at work in a way which prevents occupational risks and the undermining of other labour rights.

o   Finally, the EESC proposes that an industrial policy at European and national level be designed in order to create quality jobs that ensure healthy working conditions and improve competitiveness.


José Antonio Moreno Díaz (Rapporteur) Precarious work and mental health. Exploratory opinion requested by the Spanish Presidency. European Economic and Social Committee. 2023 – SOC/745.


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