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Self-Employment as Precarious Work

A European Perspective

Wieteke Conen and Joop Schippers

Since the 1970s the long term decline in self-employment has slowed – and even reversed in some countries – and the prospect of ‘being your own boss’ is increasingly topical in the discourse of both the general public and within academia. Traditionally, self-employment has been associated with independent entrepreneurship, but increasingly it has become a form of precarious work. This book utilises evidence-based information to address both the current and future challenges of this trend as the nature of self-employment changes, as well as to demonstrate where, when and why self-employment has emerged as precarious work in Europe.
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Chapter 13: The ‘new’ self-employed and hybrid forms of employment: challenges for social policies in Europe

Karin Schulze Buschoff


The emerge of the ‘new self-employed’ and the increasing hybridization of employment presents a challenge for political actors in European countries. How do social security systems, in particular old-age pensions systems, adapt to the development? To what extent do regulations at the EU level contribute to the social protection of the workers concerned? At the EU level, social inclusion initiatives for self-employment and hybrid employment seem contradictory and inadequate. At the level of the Member States, the situation is different. For example, the Dutch basic old-age pension system, independent of contributions paid or of work history, proves to be more convincing than insurance- and equivalence-based systems in coping with risks posed by increasingly flexible labour markets. However, the example of Austria shows that a relatively high level of protection and clear, transparent and universal regulations for all employed persons, including self-employed, can also apply to an insurance- and equivalence-based system.

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