European Labour Authority: Setting up of a European body to enforce labour mobility rules in a fair and simple way

Laurent Capbern, Global Accounting & Compliance Service Leader

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Free movement of people is a fundamental right of the European project. Today, 17 million European Union (EU) citizens live or work abroad in another EU Member State. Among them, some have a specific legal status: the posted workers. According to the latest Eurostat report, in 2015 there were over 2 million, an increase of 41% from 2010.

The framework of these practices has been discussed at the European Commission during the last couple of years, especially due to social dumping behaviours. This situation has led to two main decisions: the amendment of the posting of the workers directive and the setup of a transnational regulatory body.

In response, the European Labour Authority has been created. The organisation is based in Bratislava – Slovakia, and will start its activity from October 2019. It will:

  • Facilitate access for individuals and employers to information on their rights and obligations as well as to relevant services;
  • Support cooperation between EU countries in the cross-border enforcement of EU law, including facilitating joint inspections;
  • Mediate and facilitate solutions in case of cross-border disputes between national authorities or labour market disruptions.

At HLB International many of our clients post workers abroad and we are used to assisting them with their social, tax and administrative needs. But a significant issue we have is that the interpretation of the European directives can be different from one country to another.

For instance, in France there are posted workers in the construction sector, in particular from Poland. Posted workers are supposed to have the “same working conditions” as the local workers, including minimum wages. But France and Poland do not have the same interpretation of “same working conditions”. While for Poland it means taking charges of lodging and lunch at the workplace, French labour authority considers that the Polish employer should also pay for breakfast and dinner (as a French employer would do for one employee who works outside his usual place of work).

And this is just an example of the problems we face with our clients on a day to day basis.

Before the setup of the ELA, there was no other solution than asking directly to the European Commission how to apply EU directives. It was time consuming and not efficient. In addition, joint cross-border cooperation was effective only between certain Member States.

For now, the ELA is supposed to provide national authorities with operational support to exchange information, develop day-to-day cooperation routines and carry out inspections. But we assume it will also assist our clients that post people across countries. These companies will receive technical support and more important the ELA will mediate and facilitate solutions in case of cross-border disputes between national authorities.

The ELA is designed to facilitate an environment which is fairer and securer in the European labour market.

Laurent Capbern

Global Accounting & Compliance Services Leader

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