Annual review of working conditions in the EU: 2003-2004
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The Council Resolution on transforming undeclared work into regular employment (pdf file) aims at reducing the ‘grey’ or ‘informal’ economy and reducing levels of undeclared work. A policy mix of preventive measures and sanctions is proposed.
Undeclared work had been defined in the Commission Communication on Undeclared Work as:
'any paid activities that are lawful as regards their nature but not declared to the public authorities, taking into account differences in the regulatory system between Member States.'
Studies estimate the size of the informal economy at an average of between 7% and 16% of EU GDP. Issues to be tackled include the risks to health and safety for undeclared workers, implications for gender equality and for social protection systems. A specific guideline (No. 9) was included in the Employment Guidelines 2003 (pdf file). Key objectives are strengthening incentives and removing disincentives to declare work.
In their multiannual work programme (pdf file), the European social partners agreed to hold a seminar on undeclared work in 2005.
Occupational health and safety
A Commission Recommendation concerning the European schedule of occupational diseases (pdf file) updates the existing list of occupational diseases dating from 1990. This updated list takes account of how certain occupational diseases emerge. It is one step towards the prevention focus highlighted in the Community Strategy on Health and Safety at Work 2002-2006 (pdf file). The recommendation also includes an additional list of diseases suspected of being occupational in origin which should be subject to notification and which may be considered at a later stage for inclusion in the full list.
Corporate social responsibility
In May 2003, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in response to the Commission’s Communication (pdf file) on this subject. This followed on from the Green Paper (pdf file) (2001) on Promoting a European framework for corporate social responsibility. The resolution emphasises, as does the report (pdf file) of the European Parliament on CSR, that the Communication does not pay sufficient attention to gender policy issues in relation to CSR principles. Active promotion of workforce diversity, work-life balance, and promoting the presence of women in business management are considered as factors that may strengthen companies’ sense of social and environmental responsibility. Further, the resolution set out that the European Year of People with Disabilities in 2003 should be used as an opportunity to promote more socially responsible behaviour and equal employment opportunities.
The report by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Towards a sustainable corporate social responsibility, highlights CSR initiatives in the area of living and working conditions and the need to focus on internal aspects of CSR, i.e. on issues such as job quality, and health and safety provisions.
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