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COVID-19: existing rules sufficiently protect cross-border & seasonal workers

Cross-border and seasonal workers are seen as being particularly at risk of being exposed to Covid-19 and the European Union institutions are currently looking into whether their health & safety is sufficiently protected. The World Employment Confederation-Europe believes that the existing legal frameworks provide the appropriate level of protection but is open to a fact-finding study on the situation of those workers, including temporary agency workers and subcontracted workers.

Published on 2nd September 2020

Policymakers at European and national level at present put a strong focus on the protection of health and safety at work in the Covid-19 context – and rightly so. Health and safety of workers has also always been the primary concern of the private employment services sector during the crisis. It is also a central point in the joint recommendations adopted by the World Employment Confederation-Europe and UNI-Europa, the European social partners for the temporary agency work sector. Protecting workers in this situation requires predominantly action at national and company level based on the existing, national and European regulatory frameworks.

In a resolution of July 2020, the European Parliament called for conducting a study on cross-border and seasonal work in the context of the Covid-19, explicitly referring to the protection of temporary agency workers and subcontracted workers with a view to identify gaps in the legal framework protecting workers.

“The World Employment Confederation-Europe is open to a fact-finding study on the situation of cross-border and seasonal workers” said Dr. Michael Freytag, Public Affairs Manager at the World Employment Confederation-Europe. “However, such a study should also look at the good practices developed at national level and by sectoral social partners to protect cross-border and seasonal workers, including temporary agency workers. The World Employment Confederation-Europe does not see a need to revise the existing legal frameworks, as these still provide the appropriate level of protection.”

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, the private employment services industry has been active in protecting temporary agency workers, in establishing and promoting health and safety protocols for a safe return to work in the post Covid-19 era and by supporting workers in managing labour market transitions, moving from declining sectors to sectors in high demand and by upskilling temporary agency workers. For more information on the private employment services industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, check out our dedicated pages.

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