High-level round-table by Euractiv:

‘A changing workforce: Dealing with income protection gaps’

EURACTIV hosted a high-level workshop to discuss whether social protection can give people both income continuity and the chance to remain relevant in tomorrow’s workplace.

Questions included:
– How can companies help employees prevent income protection gaps?
– How can a shift to a whole-of-life social protection approach reduce risks?
– What role for the private and public sectors? Who should take the lead?
– What are the best ways to bridge between periods of formal and informal work, and between different places, employers or industries?
– Do people underestimate the risk that they will need income protection insurance and overestimate the likely cost of coverage?

In the past, work relationships were characterised by full-time, open-ended contracts between a worker and a single employer. Over the last two decades however, globalisation, technology, changes in individual preferences and ageing populations have contributed to important changes in labour markets.These changes mean traditional social protection models are increasingly ill-suited to 21st Century ways of life. The sharing economy and artificial intelligence are accelerating the trend towards individuals shouldering more of the risks and being more proactive to make themselves and their families financially resilient: finding the right protection at the right time, whether their focus is education, work, raising children or retirement.

Research shows as many as one out of four people may face disability during their working lifetime. These “income protection gaps” can have a big impact on our lives, our productivity and welfare needs – meaning consequences for households, public and private sectors alike. It is argued that a shift to a whole-of-life social protection approach can reduce risks.

The accumulated effects of disparities in access to social protection overtime are likely to give rise to new inter- and intra-generational inequalities. They may constitute an indirect discrimination against young people, the foreign-born and women, who are more likely to be hired on non-standard contracts.