On 21 June the Council, meeting in Luxembourg, took note of the Danish Presidency's progress report on the discussions regarding two legislative proposals aimed at enhancing the protection of the rights of workers who are temporary posted to work in another EU country by their companies. Currently, posted workers make up around 0.4% of the EU workforce and the number is expected to increase in future.
The first proposal is a directive that aims at improving the application of the 1996 directive on the posting of workers, without changing its provisions.
The 1996 rules on the posting of workers apply to companies that provide services in several EU member states and need to send their workers for temporary assignments abroad. It ensures that the most important working conditions of the host member state, such as minimum rates of pay, working time and health and safety provisions are respected.
The second proposal is a regulation on the exercise of the right to take collective action within the context of the right to provide services and the right of establishment (known as Monti II regulation).
Improving the protection of rights
The proposal raises standards for informing workers and companies about their obligations and rights, and improves the system for handling of complaints.
In addition, it establishes rules for cooperation between national authorities in charge of the posting of workers and defines the control responsibilities of national inspections.
Furthermore, it should prevent "letter-box" companies from using the EU posting rules for the purpose of circumventing the law.
For the construction sector, in which - reportedly - abuses of workers' rights occur most often, the draft directive provides for a system of joint and several liability. The construction sector accounts for almost 25% of all the posted workers in the EU.
Confirming the importance of the right to collective action
The Monti II regulation lays down the general principles related to the exercise of the right to collective action in the context of freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services. It sets out a new alert mechanism for industrial conflicts in cross-border situations.
The state of play and further steps
The ministers evaluated the progress achieved in examining the two proposals and have concluded that the member states support the proposed enforcement directive's overall objectives and consider that it offers added value.
"It is crucial that we fight social dumping and that we at the same time maintain freedom of movement as a fundamental right within the European Union. It constitutes unfair competition if companies try to cheat (…) by using social dumping. Therefore I am pleased that all countries support the Commission's proposal for better enforcement of the "posting of workers" directive," said Danish Minister for Employment Ms Mette Frederiksen, who chaired the meeting.
The Council will continue the analysis of the draft enforcement directive, especially its rules on cross-border enforcement of fines. It will hold further in-depth discussions on the proposal's technical details such as national control measures, the system of joint and several liability and other provisions, with the view of arriving at a general approach.
With regard to the proposal for a Monti II regulation, the Commission informed the Council that it is currently examining the reasoned opinions submitted by 12 national parliaments and that it will inform the Council of its decision to maintain, amend or withdraw its proposal while providing reasons for its decision.
Press release (pdf)
Press conference (video)