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WEC-Europe responds to consultation on minimum wages in Europe

As the EU reflects on possible actions regarding minimum wages, the World Employment Confederation-Europe believes that temporary agency workers are already sufficiently protected based on national regulations, the principles of equal treatment and equal pay as well as rights granted based on collective labour agreements. In its response to the second stage of the EU Social Partners’ consultation, WEC-Europe considers that any discussion at EU level should be done predominantly in the framework of the European Semester process.

Published on 4th September 2020

One of the strategic priorities of the European Commission in the area of employment and social affairs is that all workers in Europe should have access to and benefit from fair minimum wages. Consultations have been ongoing since the beginning of 2020 to assess the challenges on this matter.

As employers’ organisation and EU sectoral social partner for temporary agency work, the World Employment Confederation-Europe contributed to the second stage consultation of the EU Social Partners on minimum wages in Europe. “An adequate level of protection is already provided for temporary agency workers based on the principles of equal treatment and equal pay and related national minimum wages applicable to temporary agency workers,” underlines Dr. Michael Freytag, World Employment Confederation-Europe’s Public Affairs Manager. “Practices in several EU Member States shows that most agency workers earn more than the minimum wages.”

The World Employment Confederation-Europe supports the EU Pillar of Social Rights proclaimed by EU Member States in 2017 but considers that appropriate protection and fair minimum wages for agency workers is best handled at national level. There should also be systems in place at national level to adapt minimum wages and social partners should be involved in accordance with national law and practice.

Should the topic of minimum wages be addressed at European level, the World Employment Confederation-Europe would prefer to discuss it via the European Semester process, possibly supported by a Council Recommendation defining a general European policy framework for minimum wages. An EU Directive would not be the right instrument to address and cover the diversity of national practices that are in place for minimum wages in Europe.  If social partners negotiations on minimum wages are to take place at EU level, these should be held at the level of the cross-industry social partners.

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