Council of EU approves controversial posted workers directive

Despite opposition from nine member states, Council of the European Union have reached a decision to approve the posted workers’ regulations.

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A "posted worker" is an employee who is sent by his employer to carry out a service in another EU member state on a temporary basis.

“These were difficult negotiations but the outcome is satisfactory for the European Commission”, said the European Commissioner for Transport. “Neither state’s demands have been entirely met, which means that the measures are balanced.”

Polish Minister of Infrastructure called these measures “protectionist” because they “create unequal chances for companies within the EU, threatening the international competitiveness of the transport sector.”

The changes mean that posting employers are obliged to pay the salary of their foreign-posted staff according to the host country rates. However, the Minister said, the regulations have been agreed not to include transport between two states. They have been narrowed down only to a situation when an employee is posted on a long-term contract in a country other than the one their company is based in.

The Minister also said that in the process of negotiations another proposal was withdrawn, one that would force cargo trucks to return to their home country after a certain period. “After four weeks, the car would have to return to the company’s headquarters”, he said. “It is yet another protectionist attempt forcing many trucks to come home empty.”

However, for many the revision of the European rules on the posted workers is a way to protect citizens and the economy against social dumping. It is a practice of employers to capitalize on cheap labour by employing migrant workers. Polish workers have long benefited from this practice as their low costs made them more attractive for foreign employers.

Poland has been opposing the new regulations, arguing that the salary changes would make Polish workers less competitive on the Western markets. Together with Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, and Malta also opposed the law.

The next phase of the legislative process is for the law is to be approved by the European Parliament.