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Completed project

The Welfare State in Transit

EU migrant workers and the access to social security.

Project period December 2018 - January 2019
Project employer Røwdestiftelsen
Project nr. 10324
Project leader Ines Wagner
image of construction workers seen from above

Illustration photo: Saad Salim, Unsplash.

Project Background

Every employed EU citizen is legally entitled to access social security institutions. This not only counts in their country of origin but also across any member state to which the individual moves. However, an individual who may qualify for access in their home country may be denied coverage in their host country. There is evidence to suggest that this is a consequence of the differences in how home and host countries define ‘work’ and ‘worker’. This is particularly true for the growing segment of workers who are atypically employed.

Social security regulations were originally designed to protect industrial migrant workers in full-time, skilled, regular employment who move between fairly similar welfare state regimes. Today, migrants not only move between radically different welfare states and labour markets. They also move in and out of precarious forms of employment. 

Precariously employed EU migrants who work on temporary agency contracts and are paid in cash, who work for subcontracting firms or as part of 0-hour contracts, are in danger of not fulfilling ‘genuine and effective work’ criteria in EU case law. Consequently, they are at greater risk of losing their status as workers and thus losing access to social security rights.

Project Aim

This project aims to give an overview of how the inconsistencies of access skew migration toward those who are most highly resourced and economically valuable.


Ines Wagner PhD Senior Research Fellow +47 907 82 170 Send e-mail
Tags: Working Life, Welfare, Migration
Published Dec. 5, 2018 2:09 PM - Last modified Feb. 18, 2020 10:03 AM