Free movement of people, which can result in the undercutting of local workers by migrants from elsewhere in the EU, was one of the main concerns raised during the EU referendum. In fact, it was the reason a lot of people in the UK voted to leave – with claims that companies are frequently undercutting workers when it comes to wages and living conditions.
For example, in the North Eastern region of England, local workers in the construction industry were very vocal when it came to EU migrants being hired by companies, undermining wages and working conditions and exploiting both local workers and the migrants they were employing.
However, the European parliament has just passed a new law that it hopes will put a stop to this practice. So far, employers have been able to take advantage of legislation on temporary “posted workers”. Although they are still required to pay workers the minimum wage of the country they’re in, loopholes in the legislation mean they are able to deduct money in other ways, including for travel and accommodation costs.
These loopholes in the legislation have been under scrutiny in the EU for many years. However, it’s a divisive topic. A lot of employers, as well as trade unions and representative from member states in Eastern Europe, claim that reforms to the current regulations are a form of protectionism by Western European countries. Despite this, MEP’s have pushed for a mutual agreement, and a consensus on the right reforms has now been reached.
The new rules will promote more equality when it comes to posted workers. They will prevent exploitation and bring these workers rights in line with local co-workers, which it’s hoped will prevent the undercutting of wages. New employers will be required to give these workers equal pay and the same allowances, as well as reimburse them for their accommodation and travel expenses. All EU member states will be given two years to implement the new laws. This includes the UK, although it’s still unclear at this stage as to whether this will impact the UK’s decision on whether to stay in the single market post-brexit.
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