Welfare States and the Need for Social Protection of Self-Employed Migrant Workers in the European Union

So-called bogus – or false – self-employment has been increasingly highlighted as a problem within the European Union (EU), especially since the first eastern expansion in 2004. Although the concept is not fully clear in legal terms, a common denominator of most definitions is that bogus self-employment can be seen as ‘disguised employment’, occurring when someone who has an employee status in practice is not classified as an employee, in order to hide the actual legal status and to avoid costs such as taxes and social security contributions. In the light of different welfare systems, industrial relations and EU legislation, this article discusses this issue, drawing empirically on findings from a project about precarious employment in twelve EU countries. Although there are some fairly strict definitions of the ‘employee concept’ within the EU, the difficulties of identifying the employer leave the bogus self-employed in a legal limbo. No European Social Model has curtailed this problem, despite an expressed desire to address all aspects of precarious work. However, the inclusion of all ‘self-employed’ workers within social insurance systems and workers with an employee status in practice seems possible also under existing EU regulations. It is rather a matter of goodwill and the resources to scrutinize the terms and conditions of employment.


Author(s) C. Thörnqvist
Language English
Year of publication Dec, 2015
Journal International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations
Volume, Number 31, 4
Page(s) 391–410
Website / Document Visit

Search for publications