Posting of Workers Directive: 3 things you need to know about the updated law
This week, the European Parliament approved new rules that seek to ensure fairer pay and working conditions for workers sent temporarily to other EU countries. A “posted” worker is an employee sent by their employer to carry out a service in another member state for a temporary period.
This is a very modest revision and it will certainly not create equal pay for equal work for posted workers, nor will it solve the wider problem of social dumping. That being said, the revision is indeed an improvement of the old directive – while it does not create equal conditions for posted workers, it creates fairer conditions for posted workers.
The text of the revised Posting of Workers Directive is the result of months-long negotiations between three main EU institutions: the Parliament, the Council (national governments) and the Commission. GUE/NGL MEP Rina Ronja Kari (Folkebevægelsen mod EU, Denmark) was part of the negotiations with the goal of ensuring workers’ rights are respected. For more information on GUE/NGL’s negotiating position please click here.
Here are the three main things you need to know about the new rules and how they represent a step forward for workers across Europe:
The 1996 Posting of Workers Directive, the applicable legislation until now, gave posted ‘minimum rates of pay’. This means that workers in the service sector could be sent to richer EU countries with higher average salaries while being given only the ‘minimum pay’ of the host member state. The revised tightened legislation will ensure that posted workers receive all elements of remuneration including different allowances if such rules exists in the host Member States.
2 – Collective agreements for all
Posted workers were excluded from regional and sectoral collective agreements (those not universally applicable), which in practice meant they were losing out compared to their peers doing the same work, often inside the same company. The revised Directive will allow for the extension of regional and sectoral collective agreements to posted workers. This is a win for workers’ rights and an important recognition of the role of Trade Unions in negotiating fair work conditions for ALL workers without exception. In practice, this means convergence of rights and working conditions for posted workers and an important step forward for equality in the work place.
3 – Allowances
Crucially the revised Directive prohibits posting costs such as travel, boarding and lodging from being deducted from workers’ salaries. When a worker is already posted to a host Member State and is required to travel to and from her/his habitual place of work in that host Member State, the posted worker should receive the same allowances as any local worker. This ensures posted workers no longer see their salary suffer from undue costs during the posting period. This change gives a modest but important level of financial security for workers during the posting period and moves the responsibility over the costs of posting to employers.
Will the revised Posting of Workers Directive effectively reduce social dumping?
Whether this will be the case remains to be seen. It will depend on a number of issues, in particular how the legislation is enforced. Furthermore, the revised Directive did not address some key aspects contributing to social dumping. The parliament’s proposal to introduce provisions for subcontracting that would obligate the main contractor only to subcontract to undertakings that guarantee the same terms and conditions to posted workers as the main contractor, was rejected. Transport workers were completely excluded from the revised directive, as they will be subject to another set of laws in discussion right now in the Parliament. Until those laws enter into force, truck drivers will be inadequately covered by the old Posting of Workers Directive.
Throughout the negotiations, GUE/NGL demanded that the revised Posting of Workers Directive have its legal base extended to include the articles in the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU that are relevant to social rights. This was rejected in the end, which means that workers’ rights might not be given due consideration vis-a-vis businesses interests in case of legal challenge in the European Court of Justice.