Employment: The European Commission proposed a revamp of the regulations for the protection of workers temporarily posted abroad on Wednesday.
“Temporarily posting workers should be a win-win for EU labour markets and for businesses, but it cannot be used as a way to sidestep minimum social standards,” László Andor, European commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion (photo), said in a press statement.
About one million workers are sent by their employers to work in another EU country annually, which is about 0.4% of the total workforce, according to commission figures. The largest “sending” countries are Poland, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Portugal; while the largest “receiving” countries are Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Poland. Such workers are common in the construction, agriculture and transport sectors, as well as specialised areas of information technology.
Under the existing 1996 directive, temporarily posted workers remain employed under their home countries’ labour and occupational safety laws. Yet the European Commission said the system can be abused “by companies artificially establishing themselves abroad, just to benefit from a lower level of labour protection or lower social security contributions. Posted workers are often more vulnerable given their situation abroad.”
The new rules take into account several rulings by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg clarifying the rights of such cross-border workers. The draft directive would provide guidelines on the responsibilities of each national authority and cooperation between national authorities. It would also crackdown on “letter-box” companies trying to avoid rules, the commission said.
The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and European Council of EU government ministers for consideration.