Compared to normal occupation, precarious employment is on the advance in Europe and thus puts into question in principle previous legal and social standards of gainful employment. Precarious employment conditions appear in very different forms in the EU-27. What they have in common is that they are not stable, limited in time, poorly paid and therefore do not provide a sufficient livelihood for the employees and their families and do not lead to any or only to a very low social security. In some countries the low wage sector is promoted by the state, in others insufficient labour law provisions lead to an expansion of low wages. But the result is the same: more and more people in Europe are poor in spite of work. It is women in particular who work in the low wage sector. Openings towards higher paid and qualified employment have long stopped to exist. Low wages are also paid to well qualified people.
Facts: In Spain a little more than one third (34.0 %) of the employees had limited work contracts in 2006.This is by far the highest rate in the member states. Of the five big economies of the EU-27 the percentage of employees with fixed-term contracts was only in the United Kingdom (5. 8 %) under 13 %. Part-time employment was also extended - especially for women: it rose from 15,9 % in 1996 to 18.1 % in 2006. Low wages are mainly paid to women. In Germany the low-wage sector is growing disproportionally. During the last decade the percentage rose from 15 % to 22 %. The figures about insecure employment conditions as a whole say it clearly: 14.2 percent of the employees in 2005 were in temporary employment. The rate of those part-timers involuntary part-timers was 20.3 percent. More than 14 million people belong – with a growing trend – to the “working poor“, who are poor in spite of and because of the present profit-oriented organization of gainful employment. Insecure employment increases the risk of poverty.