The EU’s working inhabitants is each growing older and shrinking and the labour market is experiencing shortages in quite a few sectors. This stark actuality has nevertheless not led to an enhanced appreciation of the work completed by short-term workers from third international locations, and the European Commission itself has acknowledged that they’re (nonetheless) not sufficiently protected from exploitation.
This is illustrated by a number of examples from a current ETUI research protecting 23 EU and EEA international locations that comprehensively mapped how guidelines on immigration and social security for short-term migrant workers work together with their labour market standing.
For instance, immigrant home (family) workers in Cyprus are tied to a controversial contract and obtain wages at a few third of the nationwide minimal; short-term seasonal workers in Germany are usually not lined by social safety; and workers in Finland on work contracts lower than three months lengthy (usually with migration backgrounds) are usually not lined by collective agreements.
In reality, plainly the methods by which social safety, immigration and employment law work together with one another can put migrant workers in weak conditions, uncovered to exploitation. This impact is particularly obvious throughout sure factors in such workers’ trajectory, particularly arrival, keep and return to their nation of origin.
Entry is the primary juncture at which migration and employment standing can doubtlessly be very carefully interlinked.
For a migrant employee to even be allowed to enter, EU Member States usually require an already signed employment contract. In some international locations this requirement doesn’t apply to all entry regimes (for instance, Austria and Belgium), whereas in others it considerations all cases of immigration for the aim of work (for instance, Croatia and Cyprus).
This requirement creates a sure dependence on a selected employer and employment relationship from the outset and in addition a possible danger; for instance, a employee might need signed an employment contract with out full data of native circumstances of work and lodging, in addition to native work practices, and now feels certain by that contract after arrival regardless of tough and even exploitative employment circumstances.
Social safety frameworks also can have a chilling impact on workers’ entry. Seasonal workers in Germany who work for fewer than 70 days are excluded from social safety. They thus stay unprotected within the face of dangers, equivalent to accidents at work.
An further, extra oblique concern is the transferability of social safety entitlements already accrued within the third nation. If there aren’t any particular bilateral agreements in place, workers — even short-term workers — discover that any accrued contributions and in addition eligibility fall proper again to zero. Possible exceptions are posted workers from third international locations, who sometimes stay lined of their nation of origin.
During their working life within the host nation, third-country nationwide workers sometimes take pleasure in equal remedy with native workers.
For instance in Italy, Legislative Decree 286/1998 requires equal remedy between Italian workers and all foreigners often residing on Italian territory. Irregular migrants who work don’t profit from equal remedy, nevertheless, and each irregular and common migrants are nonetheless uncovered to infringements of workers’ rights, social advantages and their rights to first rate lodging. They are additionally afraid to complain about mistreatment as a result of that may imply shedding their job and being blacklisted by employers.
Despite this formal equality loved by third-country nationwide workers, within the overwhelming majority of international locations their working circumstances and wage-setting are reported to be beneath these of the native workforce. Part of the rationale might be that such workers are sometimes depending on their employer for his or her residence allow, which inevitably makes them cautious of asserting their rights.
Moreover, in addition they usually fall by way of the cracks of the social safety system. While social safety contributions should be paid, they solely change into eligible for precise advantages after a set interval (sometimes round six months of work). If their contracts are shorter, they could by no means truly profit from this sort of safety.
If the employment relationship is terminated, short-term workers sometimes lose their residence allow and should return to their nation of origin.
As the determine under illustrates, in most European international locations immigration standing relies upon instantly on particular employment relationships. Meaningful grace intervals for locating one other job (whereas nonetheless complying with the preliminary time interval for which the visa or residence allow was issued) and transitional mechanisms permitting a change of jobs and transitioning to different immigration statuses are uncommon.
Moreover, it’s an open query what occurs to workers’ social safety entitlements after they go away EU territory. If there aren’t any bilateral agreements, then entitlements won’t be transferred and in addition entry to any advantages is usually inconceivable, not less than in sensible phrases, from overseas.
Where will we go from right here?
While the working world is fairly bleak for short-term migrant workers in Europe, there are some vivid spots and a few good practices that might be propagated throughout Europe (equivalent to reforms in Austria, Czechia and Denmark through the Covid-19 pandemic).
They embrace ‘untying’ employment standing from the immigration interval, transferability of social entitlements and in addition the likelihood of accessing them after leaving the EU.
Some of these good practices are proposed within the revision of the Single Permit Directive. At the identical time, we want a complete rethink of how workers from third international locations are employed in Europe and the way nationwide guidelines on immigration and social safety have an effect on them, at each nationwide and EU stage.
Otherwise, they could stay structurally weak in our labour markets ceaselessly.