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Parliamentary questions
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21 August 2012
Question for written answer E-007632/2012
to the Commission
Rule 117
Jutta Steinruck (S&D)

 Subject: Infringement of minimum social standards through bogus self-employment and subcontractors
 Answer in writing 

There is increasing evidence on building sites that the presence of subcontracting chains and bogus self-employment is leading to a failure to comply with minimum social standards.

One specific example is that of a building site in Kelheim, Germany where Romanian workers were taken on by a subcontractor as self-employed workers. They then, however, received no wages and were left penniless in Germany.

The inspection authorities are often unable to intervene as the use of subcontractors and the unlawful contracts signed by workers mean that almost no concrete evidence of the abuse exists. This is not, however, an exclusively German problem. It has become a trend throughout Europe with unforeseeable social consequences for those affected.

Workers are lured to Germany with false promises and a non-legally compliant self-employed status and are then cheated out of their promised wages. Furthermore, deductions are then made for purported benefit contributions to drive their wages down even further.

1. When revising the enforcement directive, how does the Commission intend to ensure that compliance with the relevant European law can also be monitored and sanctioned in the Member States?

2. Is the Commission aware that massive problems exist in the Member States for workers obliged to work on a self-employed basis?

3. How long has the Commission been aware that deficiencies in the legal position regarding the distinction between employed and self-employed workers have left many workers with enormous social difficulties? Have steps been taken in the past to relieve this situation?

4. What measures will the Commission take to make it incumbent upon the Member States in the near future to guarantee minimum standards for safety, social security and accommodation for self-employed workers too, and thus to ensure a degree of legal certainty until the law is revised?

Original language of question: DEOJ C 270 E, 19/09/2013
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