In March 2016 the European Commission released a legislative proposal amending the Directive 96/71/EC on the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services. EBC welcomed this proposal and the will of the Commission to improve the rules on posting, too often and too easily circumvented even in spite of the 2014 Enforcement Directive.
However, the issue of posted workers has always been divisive for Member States. In May 2016 the National Parliaments of 11 EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) triggered a process known as the “yellow card” procedure to block the proposal, worried by a breach of the subsidiary principle or considering the 2014 enforcement directive as enough.
Replying to these concerns, the European Commissioner for Social Affairs Marianne Thyssen re-affirmed in July 2016 that the Commission will move forward with the proposal as posting is a cross-border issue by nature.
Ahead of the upcoming debates in the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, EBC drafted its position on such an important and sensitive dossier for the construction industry.
The main requests are on:
• Duration of posting: EBC proposes removing the limit of 6 months for posting activities, which is usually too long for construction activities. It should be up to the European sectoral social partners to fix the period according to the needs of their sector. Moreover, posted workers should be employed by the construction company at least 6 months before starting any posted activity in another country, to avoid bogus contractual relations.
• Levels of remuneration: as in some countries salary ranges are not settled at national level but at regional or local levels, EBC proposes the inclusion of agreements set at sub-national level.
• Temporary work agencies: EBC believes temporary work agencies should be excluded from the provision of posted workers, as they have had a disruptive effect, by creating a parallel market of interim workers hired ad-hoc just for posting purposes.
As the construction industry represents more than 40% of all posted workers in the EU, EBC considers that the Directive 96/71/EC needs to be updated to face today’s work practices in the EU-28. Construction small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe consider this revision crucial as they are losing local jobs, while posted workers receive lower salaries and social protection.