Year: 2019
Social policy

Posted workers regulations as a cohesion test in the enlarged European Union: Divergent interests of trade unions, employers' organisations and governments


The cross-border posting of workers – which operates in accordance with the freedom to provide services in the European Union – is both a controversial and topical issue. It touches upon a question on the shape of the “Social Europe” model, which defines the relationship between economic freedoms of the EU internal and social policy, including the protection of workers' rights.

The map of potential conflicts in the debate on posted workers is intrinsically complex. We are dealing with the convolution of interests of various groups and entities: companies in hosting countries that compete with companies from sending countries, posted workers earning in other Member States versus workers in a host country who may be afraid that the long-term employment of posted workers will lead to a lowering of their labour standards (social dumping) or even to loss of their jobs. On the top of that, there are national governments trying to define the public interest, and EU-level institutions who look at the issue from a somewhat different angle. To confuse the whole picture even more, there are also some fraudulent practices like “letter-box” companies who post workers in situations where a company does not carry out actual activity in a given country, the bogus self-employment of posted workers, and the evasion of remuneration and social security contributions (including retirement, disability or health insurance). Last but not least – there is also an issue of third country nationals like Ukrainians, Serbians, etc. who migrate to one of the EU countries on the basis of simplified procedures and then are posted to other – usually Western European countries.

The report sheds some light on the debate on posted workers – especially from the perspective of Central-Eastern European countries.


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