New Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Social Services gives voice to one of Europe’s fastest growing sectors

Today, the European Commission established a new EU Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for the first time in over a decade: the Social Dialogue Committee for Social Services. The announcement follows the adoption of the Council recommendation on strengthening social dialogue in the European Union.

The Federation of European Social Employers (Social Employers) and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), the representative EU social partners that requested it, welcome the establishment of the Committee which will work to ensure better working conditions for over 9 million social services workers in the EU. 

The care sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the EU. In 2022, social services represented almost 5% of the total EU workforce. The number of employees in the sector increased by 15.5 % in 10 years, double the average rate of the whole EU workforce. However, the sector also faces big challenges, especially in terms of growing staff shortages and, at the same time, the increasing care needs of an ageing population.

In its 2022 EU Care Strategy, the Commission calls on Member States to invest in the social services workforce and promote collective bargaining to improve the attractiveness of the sector and tackle staff shortages.

The Social Employers and EPSU have worked together for more than ten years to strengthen the capacity of national social partners in social services and build social dialogue both at EU and national level in the framework of EU funded projects.

The official request for the new Committee was made by the Social Employers and EPSU in June 2021 and was later joined by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR).  

Reacting to today’s response from the European Commission, EPSU General Secretary, Jan Willem Goudriaan said: “The social services sector has long been characterised by low pay, strenuous working conditions, precarious employment and damaging gender stereotypes. It is widely recognised that one of the most important solutions to this is social dialogue and collective bargaining. For this, we expect the Commission to allocate the necessary essential resources, encompassing both political commitment and practical support. We look forward to an ambitious and constructive dialogue with our social partners, the Social Employers and CEMR, to bring about the far-reaching changes that are needed.” 

Gregor Tomschizek, President of the Social Employers said: “While we face an evolving and growing demand for social services, there are significant staff shortages in the sector today. To attract and retain skilled workers, we need to advance training and skills, improve working conditions and make care jobs more attractive. Social dialogue is essential in this process. The Social Employers look forward to a positive and fruitful cooperation, as social partners in the sectoral social dialogue committee for social services.” 

Priorities of the new committee’s draft work programme include in particular working conditions, job evolution, skills and attractiveness in order to provide accessible, affordable high quality social services. It will also allow social services to build capacity, be more visible and better contribute to public social policies.

Note to Editors

The Federation of European Social Employers is the voice of employers in the field of social services at European level, representing 31 members from 20 countries. This comprises all care and support services, especially for older persons, persons with disabilities, children and other excluded and disadvantaged persons.

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) is the European trade union federation that represents the social services sector, covering millions of social service workers across the EU, the candidate countries, Norway, the UK and beyond, including Ukraine. EPSU represents workers in public and non-profit services, as well as in private care companies such as Clariane, Orpea and Colisee.

 For more information contact:

 Tamara Gomez-Sanchez
 Project & Communications Officer