Posted workers
24 October 2017

Posted workers: an ambitious agreement reached

The European ministers of Labour and of Social Affairs met in Luxembourg on 23 October, and agreed on a revision of the directive on posted work.
In its current form, the Posting of Workers Directive of 1996 is a hindrance to the principle of fair, regulated and supervised competition in Europe. France defends a strategy of reform with a “Europe that protects”, which is why over the last few months, France has acted on a European level for a new text to be adopted.
An ambitious agreement has been reached on the rules governing posted workers. It is a major success for Europe as a whole. Providing better protection of workers’ rights, fighting against fraud or dumping, is not a victory of some countries over others; it means progress for all. It is the condition of regained confidence in the European project.
This agreement is a response to ambitions held by France and its partners (especially Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy). It includes:
  • an upper limit of 12 months on the duration of a posting, as the very nature of the posting is to carry out a temporary mission (the upper limit of 12 months can be raised by 6 months, solely upon the decision of the host country);
  • the consecration of the principle of "equal pay for equal work", taking into account all of the factors comprising the remuneration (bonuses, including those from collective agreements, etc.) and not only the minimum wage – to avoid a low wages race;
  • a stronger fight against abuse and fraud, with heavier sanctions for breaches of the rules and fighting against "letterbox companies" (for example, there must be affiliation to the social security system of a State before being able to be posted elsewhere).   
Rules are meaningless if they are not applied:
  • on a national level, controls will continue to be reinforced. In the next few days, Muriel Pénicaud, the Minister of Labour, will be signing a cooperation agreement with several European countries (Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic) to implement coordinated controls in companies of the country of origin;
  • on a European level, the Commission has confirmed its wish to propose the creation of a European Labour Authority in 2018 enabling the concrete application of these rules to be checked.  
The revised directive will apply to all sectors. Discussions are underway with regard to further special rules for road transport, which is mobile by nature. They will be defined within the framework of the "mobility package" currently being negotiated. In the meantime, the current European and national rules will continue to apply.
This reform will now be discussed in the European Parliament, which has already expressed its support for the principles put forward, particularly the principle of “equal pay for equal work” and the strengthening of the fight against fraud.