The European Commission has proposed new rules to increase the protection of workers temporarily posted abroad, as well as new Regulations to deal with existing case law.

The 1996 Posted Workers Directive defined a core set of employment conditions with which service providers have to comply, including minimum rates of pay, holidays, maximum working hours and minimum rest periods, as well as health and safety at work.

The Commission says these core employment conditions are not always applied correctly or are not enforced in the host state. The aim of the proposals is to improve compliance with the way the existing rules are applied.

The enforcement directive would:

  • set more ambitious standards to inform workers and companies about their rights and obligations
  • establish clear rules for cooperation between national authorities in charge of posting
  • improve the implementation and monitoring of posting by "letter-box" companies that use posting as a way of circumventing employment rules
  • define the supervisory scope and responsibilities of relevant national authorities
  • improve the enforcement of workers’ rights, including the introduction of joint and several liability for the construction sector for the wages of posted workers as well as the handling of complaints.

The Commission is also proposing to introduce a new regulation (called Monti II), following the decisions of the European Court of Justice in International Transport Workers' Federation and anor v Viking Line ABP and anor (see weekly LELR 49) and Laval un Partneri Ltd v Svenska Byggnadsarbetareförbundet and ors (see weekly LELR 49).

In its press release, the Commission says that "The judgements have been interpreted by some stakeholders as meaning that economic freedoms would prevail over social rights and in particular the right to strike. The new enforcement Directive and Monti II Regulation confirm that this is not the case.”

Thompsons disagrees, however, arguing that the core effect will be to codify into EU law the Viking and Laval judgments, and introduce the concept of proportionality for industrial action. We will study both the directive and the regulation in more detail and keep readers informed accordingly.

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