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Possible New Rules on EU Secondments/Assignments

Possible New Rules on EU Secondments/Assignments

How many of us ever think about the EU’s Posted Workers’ Directive? Probably not too many, to be fair, but that may change in the near future.

The Posted Workers Directive governs the basis on which workers from one EU country can be temporarily seconded or assigned to another EU country.

The basic legal rule is that staff who are on a temporary secondment/assignment can remain governed by their own “home country” terms and conditions, except for certain minimum “host country” safeguards.

These current safeguards are:

  • “host country” minimum wages
  • maximum work periods, minimum rest periods, and minimum paid annual leave entitlements (which should all comply with the Working Time Directive rules, in any event, but may be stricter in any particular country)
  • any “host country” rules on hiring out workers through temporary work agencies
  • health & safety laws
  • sex discrimination laws

The European Parliament has recently received a proposal to update and extend these safeguards.

Under the proposal, posted workers would become entitled to the same “host country” pay and benefits for the same work in the same location (assuming it is more than their “home country” entitlements, otherwise those would continue to apply). In addition, workers posted for two or more years would have to be treated as if they were fully integrated into the local workforce.

Given how slowly the EU moves in terms of new laws, it is doubtful whether anything significant will happen on this matter for the rest of the year – but it is something to keep an eye one. If the changes go ahead, it may mean that businesses relying on long-term temporary secondments/assignments of an EU-mobile workforce, need to reconsider the economics of their operating model.