Posting of workers: Coordination of social security systems – Prior notification for posting is a must in the construction sector

Brussels, 27 November 2023 – In the context of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) meeting on 27 and 28 November, but also in view of the efforts of the Spanish Presidency of the Council to relaunch the debate on the coordination of social security systems and the related revision of Regulations 883/2004 and 987/2009, EBC and its construction SMEs would like to reaffirm that this legislation is of crucial importance for a non-abusive posting of workers in their sector in Europe, with mandatory prior notification as a cornerstone.

To guarantee fair competition for construction SMEs and the respect of social rights for workers, the European Builders Confederation (EBC) has been seeking a better alignment of EU social security systems ever since its successful fight for a revision of the 1996 Posting of Workers Directive. Including with a 12-point action proposal, EBC has been supportive of the revision of Regulations 883/2004 and 987/2009 on the coordination of social security systems, in order to give national authorities the appropriate means to check the social security status of posted employees and to remedy any practice that might be unfair or abusive. Indeed, several abuses in posting activities are directly related to the social security contributions, specially affecting the construction sector and its majority of SMEs.

The impact of the posting of workers in construction is major, with around 25% of the total portable A1 documents emitted in 2021 in the EU, according to the European Labour Authority (ELA). Moreover, the non-payment of due social security contributions and taxes as a result of social dumping represents a threat to the financial sustainability of social security systems and the public finances of the Member States. All Member States are free to decide who is to be insured under their legislation, which benefits are granted and under what conditions, the coordination of social security systems would however help to clearly determine which system a posted worker is subject to.

Supporting the resumption of discussions on the issue, EBC salutes the Spanish Presidency’s attempts to look for compromises and relaunch the trilogues with the European Parliament, on hold since 2021. Nonetheless, compulsory prior notification for all postings in the construction sector, both of short and longer duration, is a red line that must not be called into question. Prior notification is an essential step and tool not only to ensure the protection of workers and respect for social standards in the construction sector by avoiding exploitation behaviours and fraudulent practices, but also to guarantee fair competition and fight social dumping by limiting letterbox companies and facilitating labour inspections.

In this framework, avenues for an SME-friendly digitalisation of social security should be further explored as a tool towards a non-burdensome notification system, as it will be the case in this week’s European social affairs ministers’ meeting. Additionally, the ELA should have a reinforced role and resources not only in the conduction of inspections targeting bogus economic operators active in posting activities, but also in further promoting the exchange of best practices between national administrations regarding the use of digital tools in social security, including in the case of cross-border services.

EBC therefore urges to include in all possible intra- and inter-institutional scenarios mandatory prior notice for posting in the construction sector. We look forward to further engaging with the European co-legislators to put forward the point of view and arguments of Construction SMEs and crafts on an issue of critical importance for a level-playing field in construction, optimal security of our workers and a sound internal market.

To consult the EBC position paper on the Revision of Regulations 883/2004 and 987/2009 on the coordination of social security systems, click here

To read the full Press Release, click here