Labour mobility is a key driver of well-functioning labour markets in Europe, contributing to a better matching of labour supply and demand, and offering opportunities for companies and workers.
This became even more evident in the context of increasing labour and skills shortages in Europe as well as the situation arising from the Russian war of agression against Ukraine.
Two main EU policy initiatives are important for the private employment industry when it comes to labour mobility: the Posting of Workers Directive and the reform of the EURES network.
The Directive defines a set of mandatory rules regarding the terms and conditions of employment to be applied to posted workers in order to guarantee that their rights and working conditions are protected throughout the EU and to ensure a level-playing field between foreign and local service providers. First adopted in 1996, the Directive was revised in 2018, notably to include the principle of “equal pay for equal work” for posted workers.
The World Employment Confederation-Europe has been critical of the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive, as many of the issues identified could have been addressed by the better enforcement and application of existing rules.
Nevertheless, the private employment industry supports the application of the principle of equal treatment to posted temporary agency workers. Such a principle is already enforced in article 5 of the Directive on temporary agency work to which the World Employment Confederation-Europe fully subscribes. WEC-Europe calls for an appropriate and timely implementation of the new rules on the posting of workers.
European Employment Services (EURES) is a cooperation network formed in 1994 by coordination offices (both European and national) and designated public employment services in each EU country as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. It aims to foster job mobility and matching in the European Union through cooperation and information exchange between employment services.
In 2016, the EURES network was broadened to also include the private employment industry and enlarge the offers and services available. The World Employment Confederation-Europe supported the opening of EURES to the private employment industry and calls for the fostering of cooperation between public and private employment services to further facilitate labour mobility.
In a Strategic Issue Paper released in December 2022, the World Employment Confederation-Europe explores the current challenges related to labour mobility and legal migration and calls for a policy focus on better enforcement. The World Employment Confederation-Europe also underlines the commitment of the well-regulated agency work industry to further contribute to better labour markets by providing a pathway for work mobility.
The paper complements the Strategic Issue Paper on skills and labour shortages “Making Better Matches”, released in September 2022. Broadening access to labour markets – notably through work mobility and economic migration – is identified in that paper as one of four pillars to solve skills and labour shortages in Europe.