European Union: European Labour Authority Proposed
The European Commission has proposed to establish a European Labour Authority to provide better access to information, promote cooperation, and facilitate joint inspections for compliance in the fields of labour mobility (including posted workers) and social security in the European Union.
The European Commission proposes to establish a European Labour Authority (ELA).
A closer look
- Improved access to information. The new agency would improve access to relevant information on job opportunities and apprenticeships for foreign and local workers; rights and obligations regarding posted workers, labour mobility in general; social security; and national collective agreements, among other topics.
- The ELA is expected to create a new online platform providing easy-to-read information on rights and obligations, such as posted worker notification duties; links to relevant labor mobility and social security legislation and policy; lists of all relevant national and European authorities and information on their jurisdictions; and a new database consolidating EU-wide job advertisements.
- Background. This information is currently listed in various national sources, such as websites of national authorities and local databases, or not published at all. Since these topics are at the crossroads of the topics of immigration, labour law and social security, many different agencies are involved at the national and European levels, making legislation, regulation and information fragmented and difficult to obtain. As the importance of mobility increases, this is becoming an obstacle to movement of workers.
- Impact. Better access to relevant information would remove uncertainty for employers seeking to move foreign nationals within the European Union.
- Improved access to services. Government departments in individual EU countries often struggle with administration and translation requirements. Additionally, foreign workers often find it difficult to locate and use services offered in each EU country. The ELA would offer translation and administrative support services to national government departments; would list services available to foreign workers; and would monitor and enforce access to such services where needed.
- Impact. While the European Commission is currently hesitant to confirm that the ELA would offer services directly, the ELA would receive a considerable budget and would likely be well placed to offer a range of practical support.
- Exchange of information. Currently, government departments in individual EU countries struggle to connect with their EU counterparts. For example, there are considerable differences in the application of posted worker enforcement measures, and social security certificates are sometimes not cancelled when they should be. Part of the ELA staff would include seconded experts from national government departments. Foreign workers or employers could obtain information directly from this panel of national experts. Further information on the types of tools that will be available is expected to be published in autumn 2018.
- Impact. Faster exchange of data on national legislation and policy as well as individual workers’ data would improve compliance with EU labour and social security rules. Employers would be exposed to more risk if their foreign workers are not compliant. with such rules Foreign workers and employers would however benefit from faster answers to their questions.
- Joint inspections. The ELA would help national government departments organize joint labor law inspections by providing a platform for coordination and by providing administrative support. The ELA would also support national government departments in conducting inspections at the request of another EU country. At the moment, these types of inspections are based on mutual trust between EU countries, and would benefit from a more structured system. The ELA could also suggest inspections where it suspects fraud, if the responsible national department does not act as swiftly or thoroughly as the ELA would prefer. It is possible that the ELA could also offering support by cross-border allocation of resources, if any national department faces workload or staffing issues.
- It is not yet clear how the ELA would ensure that an inspection actually takes place, for example by imposing fines, or by requesting the Commission to start up infringement proceedings. Further information is expected in autumn 2018.
- Impact. This measure would improve enforcement of EU rules by reducing hurdles to cross-border inspections.
- Mediation. The ELA would provide a forum for mediation and dispute resolution in case of disputes between national authorities (for example, where a social security certificate is not withdrawn correctly) or where company restructuring affects multiple EU countries.
The proposal is part of the European Pillar of Social Rights, a set of principles aimed at ensuring fair pay, promoting gender equality and improving the work-life balance, among other labour standards, which drives the development of EU and national legislation and policy in the area of social legislation in the next years.
The ELA would replace a number of existing EU committees, notably the Technical Committee on the Free Movement of Workers and the Committee of Experts on Posting of Workers, thus consolidating efforts and creating a unified approach to labour issues.
The ELA would work closely with a number of related EU agencies, notably the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (Eu-OSHA).
The current proposal must be approved by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. Further practical information is expected only after the approval of the legislative text.
According to European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labor Mobility, the new agency should start up in 2019 and be fully operational in 2023.
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