Workers posted abroad are one step closer to better protection, after the EP Employment and Social Affairs Committee endorsed updates to legislation on Thursday. MEPs aim to prevent abuse of the law by clarifying genuine postings as situations where workers are posted abroad to provide services for a limited period. MEPs also proposed tougher controls and called for workers to be better informed on their employment conditions.
The draft legislation was adopted by 22 votes to 18, with 6 abstentions. The committee also gave a green light to start informal negotiations with the Council.
"The vote today allows negotiations with the Council in order to come up with solutions to guarantee workers' rights and enable companies to make the best use of the single market", said lead MEP Danuta Jazlowiecka (EPP, PL).
"The tight vote today reflects the orientations in the Council on the definitions, the joint responsibility in subcontracting chains and the role of social dialogue, and of Member States in the controls", said Employment Committee Chair Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR).
Closing legal loopholes
MEPs proposed a checklist to help member states assess if a posting is genuine or an attempt to circumvent employment laws, through so-called "letter-box" companies set up in countries that require a lower level of employment and social protection.
The aspects to examine include: where the company is registered, where it pays tax and social security contributions, where the business activity takes place, where posted workers are recruited, the applicable laws for workers and clients and the number of contracts performed.
To assess whether a posted worker is on a "temporary" assignment, the committee suggests member states may consider the time period, being posted to another member state than the person's usual place of work and whether the worker is expected to return to work in his/her member state of origin. A significant minority of the committee's MEPs however considered that the member states' role lacks legal certainty.
Member States may also improve effective control measures such as the requirement for service providers to report in advance on the identities and number of posted workers and the anticipated duration of the services. MEPs also say the posting company should have a representative in the host member state.
Enforcing workers' rights in subcontracting situations
MEPs are concerned about cases where subcontracted companies have avoided paying or otherwise respecting the rights of posted workers. To remedy this, the committee says that not only the subcontractor but also the company behind it can be held liable for any due entitlements or social security contributions.
Better inform workers and companies about their rights and obligations
Member states must ensure that the information on the terms and conditions of employment is made available, free of charge, in a clear, transparent and accessible way, underline MEPs.
According to the European Commission, each year, around one million workers are posted by their employers across EU borders to provide services (0.4% of the EU workforce). The main sectors concerned are construction, agriculture, transport and information technology.
In the Chair: Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR)
Procedure: first reading