The European Council, Parliament and Commission are about to start trilogue negotiations over the revision of the posting of workers Directive (PWD) of 1996. The aim of the revision is to ensure, among others, the principle of equal pay for equal work at the same place, limit the maximum posting duration and address increasing involvement of temporary work agencies in the business. The past year has shown how acutely sensitive these issues are and arriving at this point has required substantial political capital.
Some have argued that this energy would have been better spent elsewhere, but in fact for some member states a lot is at stake. Postings have a large impact on (net) receiving countries such as Belgium, particularly when looking solely at its construction sector where posted workers make up 25% of the Belgian workforce. Likewise, in some (net) sending countries, such as Slovenia, outgoing posting makes up 7% of overall employment. A restriction on posting would have significant ramifications in these labour markets and for fiscal/social security revenues.
The proposed revision is unlikely to render the majority of postings unprofitable, but some postings may disappear. In any case, those participating in the upcoming trilogue on posting will have to be mindful of the consequences for the single market while addressing the shortcomings in the current PWD.
Mikkel Barslund is Research Fellow and Matthias Busse is Researcher at CEPS; Frederic De Wispelaere is Senior research associate at HIVA, KU Leuven.