Workers posted temporarily to other EU countries will have to be remunerated based on the rules of the host state for the same type of work, under a law voted last week by the European parliament.
In the final stage of the law-making process, the parliament has agreed a series of changes to the EU directive on posted workers of 1996. The directive set minimum conditions on pay and annual leave, maximum working periods and requirements on how posted workers should be hired. But a study by the European parliament has shown that, as employers were not obliged to pay them more than the minimum wage of the host country, posted workers were often earning less than the local workforce for the same job. In fact, in some cases companies used these rules to take advantage of different labour costs between EU countries, creating unfair competition in local markets.
Now new rules will ensure more protection for workers and fairer competition for companies. Based on the revised directive, the posting can last up to 12 months with an extension of 6 months, then workers will be able to stay but working conditions will be subject to the host country labour rules. During the posting, employers will have to cover travel, board and accommodation costs in line with national standards, and not deduct them from salaries. And national remuneration rules will apply too.
Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, the European parliament rapporteur and French member of the European People’s Party, said that the vote “sets a clear course towards a more social Europe with a fairer competition between companies and better rights for workers.” Co-rapporteur Agnes Jongerius, a Dutch member of the Socialists and Democrats Alliance, added: “Colleagues can be colleagues again, rather than competitors. This is an important step towards creating a social Europe that protects workers and stops companies from engaging in a race to the bottom.”
A posted worker is defined as “an employee who is sent by his or her employer to perform a service in another EU member state on a temporary basis.” The average duration of posting in 2014 was 103 days.
In 2016 in the EU there were 2.3 million posted workers, a limited number in comparison to the total workforce but quite significant in certain regions and sectors. Most posted workers (52%) were sent to a neighbouring country.
86% of postings went into Western European states, with Germany (414,200), France (190.850) and Belgium (159.750) receiving around 50%. Poland (266,700), Germany (232,800) and France (119,700) were the major sending countries. As a proportion of domestic employment, the incidence of posted workers in sending countries was highest in Luxembourg (20.7%) and Slovenia (11.5%). Between 2010 and 2014, Italy and Spain turned from net receivers to net senders, mostly because of the economic crisis.
Between 2010 and 2016, noted the parliament, posting increased by 69%, with a parallel growth in abusive and fraudulent practices, such as letter-box companies, bogus self-employment and various forms of exploitation.
EU countries have now two years to transpose the EU rules into national laws. The European Commission has also recently proposed the creation of a European Labour Authority to deal with workers’ rights in Europe.
Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved.
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