Our Position

Resolution on trade union rights for self-employed

Resolution on trade union rights for self-employed adopted by the General Assembly on 5 November 2018.

There has been a rapid rise in the number of workers categorized as self-employed in recent years. In 2016, 30.5 million workers within the EU 28 Member States were self-employed.

Among these 30 odd million, 8.7 million had employees themselves, while 21.8 million were so-called “own-account” self-employed workers, without employees. Approximately 13 per cent of the self-employed work in professional and technical areas.

These figures come from the report Trade unions protecting self-employed workers, which was recently published by ETUC following a project which Eurocadres participated in.

Self-employed workers often have far fewer rights than employees. They:

  • Are not allowed by law from joining trade unions in some European countries,
  • Cannot negotiate standard rates and working conditions through collective bargaining in many EU member states – supposedly due to EU competition law,
  • Have less access to social protection benefits such as sick leave, unemployment pay, parental leave and pension.

Access to social protection is one of the main issues for self-employed workers. Rights to protection like sick leave, unemployment benefits or parental/maternity leave often depend on the self-employed making additional contributions. Because of the high cost of accessing those benefits individually, many chose not to do so. This makes work conditions of certain categories of self-employed precarious.


Eurocadres supports improving the situation of self-employed by:

  • Combating bogus self-employment;
  • Guaranteeing self-employed the human right to organise in a union with the right to collective bargaining;
  • Establishing rules which provide a common legal framework for self-employed workers;
  • Ensuring equal rights between employees and the self-employed, particularly on access to social protection;
  • Promoting trade unions to organise, bargain for and support self-employed.

Adopted at the General Assembly of Eurocadres 5 November 2018