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WEC-Europe disapproves choice of Directive to secure minimum wages across Europe

For the agency work sector, an EU Directive is not the right instrument to guarantee access to minimum wage protection for temporary agency workers. Reacting to the proposal put forward by the European Commission on 28 October on adequate minimum wages, the World Employment Confederation-Europe recalls that the sector is already well-regulated in this respect by systems in place both at European and national level as well as through social dialogue.

Published on 28th October 2020

While the World Employment Confederation-Europe supports the objective of guaranteeing decent working and living conditions for workers through adequate wages, a Directive on minimum wages is not considered as the right legislative instrument for the European Union to achieve this goal. “Given the diversity of national practices that are in place for minimum wages in Europe, we believe that a Council Recommendation would be a far better instrument to ensure appropriate protection and fair minimum wages in the respect of existing national systems,” reacted Dr. Michael Freytag, Public Affairs Manager for the World Employment Confederation-Europe.

On 28 October, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a Directive on adequate minimum wages in the European Union. The proposal aims to implement one of the principles set out in the European Pillar of Social Rights proclaimed in November 2017, which aims to secure the right to fair wages for workers.

In the agency work sector, there is already a dedicated EU Directive that provides the main and adequate legal framework to guarantee appropriate working conditions and social protection for temporary agency workers. The EU Directive 2008/104 on Temporary Agency Work includes the principles on equal treatment and equal pay which ensure that agency workers have the same rights as their colleagues permanently employed by the user companies. In addition, minimum wages for agency workers are being set in most EU Member States through national law or collective labour agreements. Actually, practice shows that most agency workers in Europe earn more than the minimum wages.

A positive aspect in the proposal for a Directive is the recognition of the important role of social partners in setting minimum wages and the focus set on capacity building in this area. The World Employment Confederation-Europe strongly welcomes this element, which would be of important added value for the social partners in the agency work industry. Also positive is the fact that online platform workers would be covered by the scope of the proposal. The Commission’s proposal seeks to create a framework to improve access to minimum wage protection for all workers in the EU, whatever the diverse forms of work they’re in, as long as they are classified as workers.

Since the beginning of 2020, the European Commission has consulted stakeholders to identify how to set up a framework for minimum wages in Europe. The World Employment Confederation-Europe, as employers’ organisation and EU sectoral social partner for temporary agency work, has contributed to the different stages of consultation and will continue to support the EU’s actions in ensuring fair and decent working conditions for all workers.

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