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European Pillar of Social Rights – delivering new rights for workers of all ages

The European Pillar of Social Rights, presented by the European Commission last April, is about delivering new and more effective rights for citizens. Many of its aims are shared by the Healthy Workplaces for All Ages Campaign, which plays a key role in protecting the rights of workers of all ages to safe and healthy working conditions.  


The European Pillar of Social Rights consists of 20 principles covering equal opportunities and access to labour market; fair working conditions; and social protection and inclusion. The Healthy Workplaces for All Ages Campaign supports these principles, most notably through its collection and dissemination of good practices, and by supporting the sharing of experiences.

For example, the principle concerning the right of workers to a high level of protection of their health and safety at work. This includes the right to a working environment adapted to the individual needs of workers. The principle is routinely addressed by the campaign whether it be through the use of ergonomics, facilitating the return-to-work of employees with diseases or disabilities, or the carrying out of age-sensitive risk assessments.

The principle of education, training and life-long learning is also addressed by the campaign through its many practical tools and guidance material for employers and employees on training and learning, as well as lots of case studies and good practice examples from across Europe.

As part of the social pillar, the Commission is exploring ways to increase access to social protection for self-employed and gig-economy workers (short-term, flexible or part-time jobs), ensuring more workers are protected. This will be of particular help to younger workers who are increasingly employed under precarious employment conditions, like zero-hour contracts.

The Commission is also looking to address work-life balance, another common subject matter for the Healthy Workplaces Campaign. The extension of flexible working arrangements for parents should facilitate the increase of the number of women in employment, as well as reduce stress and the number of workers leaving the labour market. Companies will benefit from a wider talent pool, a more motivated and productive labour force, and less absenteeism.

EU-OSHA plays a key role in helping companies, in particular micro-enterprises and SMEs, to comply with occupational safety and health rules and thus to better adapt to the new principles proposed under the social pillar. This is done through the development of relevant OSH e-tools, and practical tools like the Healthy Workplaces for All Ages e-guide which helps employers and workers manage occupational safety and health in the context of an ageing workforce.

EU-OSHA and the Healthy Workplaces Campaigns will be key to helping make the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality for citizens. The next campaign on dangerous substances starts in 2018 and will support the Commission’s effort to fight occupational cancer. It will also continue to promote the importance of prevention and risk as assessment, and help increase knowledge of the legislative framework protecting workers.