Journal article Open Access

Subordination or subjection? A study about the dividing line between subordinate work and self-employment in six European legal systems

Pierluigi, Digennaro

This article presents a comparative analysis of six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) that aims to examine the distinction between work under an employment contract (subordinate work) and self-employment, shedding light on the main criteria used by the law and judges to identify the two concepts and also provides an overview of how legal systems have tackled the problem of forms of work that lie halfway between work under an employment contract and self-employment. It also provides a uniform basis for discussions and a critical assessment of the various approaches that these legal systems have chosen to shape the concept of employment contract/subordinate work or other legal statuses that ensure protection.
In the final section, some conclusions are drawn about the studied countries, and the new concept of ‘subjection’ is introduced to reorganise the protection granted by labour law since it absorbs and expands the concept of subordination upon the consideration that the former can better match the current socio-economic scenario. Indeed, the latter scenario is described in section one of the article. Lastly, the study stresses the need to protect the genuine self-employed through mechanisms to ensure social protection in
cases of sickness, long-term impediments to work and retirement.

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