The EU’s Horizon 2020 financial instrument for supporting innovation has awarded €3.2m to a research project investigating in-work poverty.
Nearly 10% of the EU’s working population – around 20.5 million people – were reported to be at risk of poverty in 2017. The three-year ‘Working, yet poor’ (WorkYP) research project, to be conducted by researchers from the universities of Bologna, Frankfurt, Gdansk, Leuven, Lund, Luxembourg, Rotterdam and Tilburg as well as representatives of three social rights organisations, aims to determine the key social and legal factors which contribute to in-work poverty across the EU. A subproject headed by Goethe University Law Professor Bernd Waas will investigate the impact of ‘atypical’ working contracts on employees’ finances and assess economic models for combating worker poverty.
Luca Ratti, Associate Professor of European and Comparative Labour Law at the University of Luxembourg and co-ordinator of the WorkYP project, said: “Countries implement certain measures to prevent in-work poverty, but there is not a set approach towards reducing or eliminating it. EU Member States – individually and collectively – need a better understanding of the problem, an understanding supported by pertinent data and which allows them to monitor and successfully attack it. With this study, we intend to help EU Member States, and the EU as a whole, to better target their policies and regulatory action.”
In-work poverty disproportionately affects workers who receive a low wage and those on temporary, casual and zero-hours contracts; as well as the self-employed. Levels of poverty in work differ widely between Member States: in 2018, 13.4% of Luxembourg’s in-work population was determined to be at risk of poverty; while only 5.2% of Belgian workers were similarly at risk. WorkYP aims to examine the reasons behind these disparities.
Goethe University Vice President Professor Simone Fulda said: “I am happy that Goethe University is involved in such an important European research project. Decent working and living conditions in all countries of the Community are of critical significance for Europe’s future.”