Posted workers in seven questions

THE ECO SCAN – Polish plumber or Portuguese mason, they are the subject of recurring myths. But who are these “seconded” employees? How many are there in France? In what framework can they exercise? answers you.

Abuses linked to posted work within the European Union are on the increase, as evidenced by the recent conviction of a French property developer for concealed work. More and more numerous on French territory, posted workers are often hidden from the French authorities by the companies which employ them. Explanations.

• What is a “posted worker”?

According to the definition of who governs his activity, “any worker who, for a limited period, carries out his work on the territory of a Member State other than the State on whose territory he usually works” must be considered as posted. These are therefore employees who carry out ad hoc missions in a country of the European Union other than the one in which they normally work. The duration of the assignment is thus essential, an “expatriate” worker, that is to say one who usually works abroad, not being considered as posted.

• What regulations are they subject to?

The European directive clearly specifies that the Member States of the Union must ensure that “companies guarantee to workers posted to their territory the working and employment conditions which are fixed in the State on whose territory the work is carried out. executed”. However, if the working and salary conditions that apply are those of the host country, the social charges applied are those of the country of origin. Which results in, which threatens the European economic balance.

• How many are there in France?

The National Commission for the Fight against Illegal Work estimates the number of posted workers in France at 230,000 in 2014. That is an increase of 8% compared to 2013. However, this figure is largely underestimated: in 2013, the Senate already ruled that between 220,000 and 300,000 workers were illegally posted to France.

These figures are, however, much lower than the number of French people posted abroad. A dated April estimated that around 300,000 French workers were posted abroad in 2011, including 170,000 within the European Union.

• What countries are they from?

Poland is now the first country to second its employees to France, ahead of Portugal and Romania. But contrary to popular belief, the overwhelming majority of posted workers come from European Union countries: only 3% of them come from a country outside the EU.

• In which sectors do they work?

The is the champion of posted work, concentrating on its own 37% of foreign employees, or 77,700 people, in 2013. Interim (31%) and industry (16%) complete the podium, according to a Senate report, which underlines however that certain sectors make more and more use of posted workers, although in a smaller proportion compared to the construction industry. The number of workers posted to agriculture thus increased by more than 1000% between 2004 and 2011.

• Why so much abuse?

Despite the existence of European regulations,. Covert work, employment of undocumented workers, non-compliance with health and safety standards: posted work covers many facets of illegal work. In particular, fraudsters are increasingly resorting to “cascading” subcontracting, which makes it easier to hide abuses. Polish posted workers who worked on the EPR site in Flamanville, for example, had been recruited by a temporary employment agency whose offices were located in Cyprus but which was based in Ireland. Some French workers are even posted … to France by their company, which establishes their contract via an interim agency abroad, in a country where social charges are lower.

In order to contain fraud, the European Parliament adopted a new directive last year, which aims to better distinguish between legal and illegal posted work, and strengthens controls. But the European texts remain rather vague. No limit on the duration of the assignment, for example, is set.

• How does France fight against these abuses?

In June 2014, the Parliament adopted a law transposing a European directive which establishes joint and several liability between principals and subcontractors. The former can be prosecuted if the latter abuse posted work. They are also exposed to a withdrawal of public aid for five years. In addition, the government has tightened penalties through an amendment to the Macron law, hoping to deter fraudsters. The latter now incur a fine of 500,000 euros, against 150,000 previously.

However, these measures are in vain without control. Only 54 statements of offense were thus recorded in 2013. In February, Manuel Valls had promised that controls would be reinforced, in particular “in the 500 largest construction sites in progress”. That of the COP21, an event on which the executive relies a lot to restore its image, shows that it is still wishful thinking.