The Welfare State in Transit
EU migrant workers and the access to social security.
Illustration photo: Saad Salim, Unsplash.
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.
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.