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World Employment Confederation-Europe details position on proposed EU Directive for minimum wages

In its position paper on the proposal for a Directive on adequate minimum wages, the World Employment Confederation-Europe reiterates its support for some policy action at European level but questions the choice of a Directive as the most efficient instrument to cater for the variety between forms of work and labour market models in the EU.

Published on 19th January 2021

The World Employment Confederation-Europe fully supports the main objective of the European Commission’s proposal on minimum wages but considers that the proposed Directive is an inappropriate instrument that risks interfering in well-established collective bargaining and minimum wage setting systems.

“Appropriate and fair working conditions for diverse forms of work are essential to adapt labour markets to the changing world of work, but there is also a need to value diverse forms of work,” explains Dr. Michael Freytag, Public Affairs Manager at the World Employment Confederation-Europe.

Diverse forms of work include open-ended contracts, fixed-term contracts, part-time work, temporary agency work, work in the collaborative economy and via online talent platforms. All these forms of work contribute to more agile, dynamic and resilient labour markets, providing employment opportunities to people and fostering inclusive labour markets. Diverse forms of work are particularly important as access channel to the labour market, for example for young people looking for their first professional experience, migrants or people with disabilities. Respecting this variety of labour market models is essential for their most efficient functioning.

In its position paper on the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on adequate minimum wages in Europe, the World Employment Confederation-Europe makes the following observations and recommendations to achieve this important policy objective:

  • The World Employment Confederation-Europe supports the objective of adequate minimum wages for workers as also stipulated in the European Pillar of Social Rights and acknowledges that policy action at the European level may be needed to reach that objective.
  • For the sector of temporary agency work, there is actually no gap in the social protection of temporary agency work, given the fact that the principle of equal treatment is already established by the EU Directive on temporary agency work and that this includes minimum wages set by law, at the level of the user undertaken or by the sectoral social partners of the temporary agency work industry. The majority of temporary agency workers are actually earning more than the statutory or collective labour agreement based minimum wages.
  • The World Employment Confederation-Europe believes that there are more effective ways to ensure adequate minimum wages. Rather than a Directive, the World Employment Confederation-Europe considers that a Council Recommendation and the use of the European Semester would leave more space for the variety between labour market models in the EU.
  • With regard to main provisions on statutory minimum wages including wage adequacy, coverage and adaption, the World Employment Confederation-Europe argues that these are best to be settled at national level.

The World Employment Confederation-Europe is looking forward to continuing the dialogue with the EU Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission to shape an appropriate framework for the protection of workers, which should at the same time contribute to agile and dynamic labour markets in Europe.

content types: Position papers
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