Better protection of labour rights and freedom of movement for mobile workers during crises 

Press Releases 
  • Mobile workers in strategic supply chains to be considered essential 
  • Establishment of a protocol for freedom of movement in health crises 
  • Commission should publish without delay proposal for digital European social security number 

Mobile workers in strategic manufacturing supply chains, such as for medical equipment, are essential and quarantine requirements should be reconsidered for these workers.

In a report adopted on Thursday, MEPs from the committee on social affairs and employment (EMPL), express concern about the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed structural shortcomings of the regulatory frameworks for protection of cross-border and mobile workers at EU level. In the event of a health crisis or another emergency, the EU and the member states should undertake special efforts to enforce the social rights of these workers, they say. MEPs also call for the establishment of a uniform European protocol for freedom of movement of workers in health crises.

Making the ELA fully operational

MEPs insist that the European Labour Market Authority (ELA) should facilitate the application of labour rights, for instance by informing workers and employers about their rights and obligations and by helping to tackle social fraud and abusive practices. They also call on ELA to investigate together with the Commission the numerous cases of denied access to the labour market, as well as abuses and discrimination related to working conditions, based on nationality, which have become highly visible during the COVID-19 crisis.

The report also suggests that ELA becomes the place of establishment for a one-stop shop help desk where workers and employers can access digital services regarding labour mobility and the posting of workers. In this context MEPs also call on the Commission to launch without delay the planned initiative for a digital European social security number to ensure that mobile workers have legal certainty and can enforce their labour rights.

The report was adopted in committee by 39 votes in favour, 4 against and 10 abstentions.


The free movement of workers, the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services are fundamental principles of the internal market. While the free movement of persons is of mutual benefit to both sending and receiving member states, structural shortcomings of the regulatory framework persistently undermine workers’ rights.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the difficult working and living conditions of hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers and of posted workers. Seasonal and posted workers were often lacking basic healthcare, decent accommodation, personal protective equipment and adequate information. In some cases, mobile workers suffered discrimination and poor working and living conditions, which led to local outbreaks of COVID-19.