French president Emmanuel Macron has visited Eastern Europe on an official trip defending his proposal to reform the “posted workers” EU law.
Who does the directive concern?
This directive applies to employees who are sent by their employer to temporarily work into another EU member state.
“Posted workers” should not be confused with “mobile citizens” who go and live in other member states for an indefinite period of time.
Which rights are established?
The directive stipulates that a posted worker can keep a set of core work rights derived from their home country instead of having to follow the rules of the host member state.
Employers are still required to pay taxes in the country where the company is based.
These rights include: *Minimum rates of pay *Maximum working periods and minimum rest periods *Minimum paid annual leave *Conditions of hiring out workers through temporary agencies *Health and safety and hygiene at work *Equal treatment of employees, regardless of gender
If the working conditions of the host country are more favourable for workers than those of their home member state, the employer can choose to apply them.
Why was this directive created?
This directive was intended to facilitate mobility and exchanges between member states providing the same quality of life.
Why does Emmanuel Macron want to reform it?
The French President and other critics of the directive say it has caused “social dumping” between member states with different qualities of life.
Companies from states where working rights and wages are more favourable to employees hire posted workers from less favourable countries, enjoying fewer payroll taxes.
Businesses from Western Europe set up “shell companies” (also referred to as “mailbox companies”) in Eastern Europe, whose workers then compete with the local workers in the labour market.
What do France and Austria want?
*To limit secondments to a maximum of 12 months over a period of time of two years. *To take all benefits into account when calculating wages (including incentives and transportation allowances etc.) *To reinforce control over shell companies *To extend the law to lorry drivers
Who is for and who is against the reform?
The demarcation line roughly cuts Europe into East and West.
Western countries are globally in favour of a reform of the directive, with France and Austria leading the call for change supported by Germany.
Eastern states are generally against the reform. Poland and Hungary are strongly against it and the Czech Republic and Slovakia have just agreed in principle to support it, having been against it until now.
Romania and Bulgaria are strongly against the idea of extending the law to lorry drivers. Spain and Portugal are also against this proposal.
A few key dates
The 96/71/CE directive, nicknamed the posted workers law, was approved by the European Parliament in 1996 and the Enforcement Directive in 2014. It needed to be put into place by member states by June 2016.
On March 8, 2016, the European Commission proposed a revision of the directive but it has not yet been approved by member states or the Parliament.