11th March 2016

EC proposes changes to posted workers

As expected, the Commission proposed on 8 March a revision of the Posted Workers Directive. The original directive dates back to 1996, with an enforcement supplement being adopted in 2014 to tackle the most obvious abuses. Objectively, it is quite outdated since it does not take into consideration the economic differences between “old” and “new” Member States (those that entered in 2004). As of now, employer seated in one member state can send an employee to work in another member state. In general, the labor conditions of the sending state apply to him. This makes posted workers “cheaper” in many instances. The number of posted workers was 1.9 million in 2014 (although it is less than 1% of all employees in the EU), and sectors of construction, agriculture and transport use the provisions the most.

Countries with most posted workers (Belgium, France, Germany) often call posted workers a social dumping practice. Nowadays, only minimum wage requirements of the host country apply to posted workers (together with some basic health and security provisions). According to the current EC´s proposal, more aspects of remuneration of the host state would apply – allowances, extras and so on, everything guaranteed by law or generally applicable collective agreements in every economic sector. This should bring wages of posted workers closer to usual remuneration of the host state. The same rules will apply also to agency workers. Member states will be allowed to require contractors to apply the provisions also to cross-border subcontractors. Moreover, if a worker is posted for more than 24 months, all labor law provisions of the host state will begin to apply to him (if it is more favorable to the worker).

The proposal is in line with the EC´s political guidelines which state that employees in the EU should get equal pay in equal situations. According to left-leaning MEPs, though, this proposal falls short of such ambition. Posted workers will get more money than now, but still might end up with significantly less than domestic workers. Center-right MEPs, on the other hand, point out the damages this could make to competitiveness and SMEs. The Council and the EP will have to find an agreement for the proposal to become a law.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic