Workers posted temporarily to another EU country must get equal pay for equal work in the same place, under revised rules on the posting of workers given the green light by the European Parliament on Tuesday.
A posted worker is an employee who is sent by his or her employer to perform a service in another EU member state on a temporary basis. In 2016, there were 2.3 million posted workers in the EU. Posting increased by 69% between 2010 and 2016.
The issue has been controversial because some companies have taken advantage of the difference in labour costs between EU countries, which has led to unfair competition.
As employers have not been obliged to pay posted workers more than the minimum wage set by the host country, they have usually earned less than local workers for the same job. According to the Commission, posted workers can earn up to 50% less in some cases.
Under the revised rules, which aim to ensure better protection for posted workers and fair competition for companies, all of the host country’s remuneration rules must apply to posted workers. In addition to legal provisions, member states may apply large, representative regional or sectoral collective agreements. So far, this has been done only in the construction sector.
Travel, board and accommodation costs will have to be paid by the employer and not deducted from workers’ salaries. Employers will also have to ensure that the accommodation conditions for posted workers are decent, and in line with national rules.
The duration of the posting has been set at a maximum of 12 months, with a possible extension of 6 months. Thereafter, the worker will still be able to stay on and work in the member state to which he or she is posted, but beyond this, working conditions will be subject to the host country’s labour rules.
In the event of a fraudulent posting, e.g. by a letterbox company, member states should cooperate to ensure that posted workers are protected, at least, by the conditions of the Posting of Workers Directive.
The new elements of the revised directive will apply to the transport sector once the sector-specific legislation, included in the Mobility Package, enters into force. Until then, the 1996 version of the directive remains applicable.
EU Member States now have two years to transpose the rules into their national laws, and must put them into effect by the end of this period.