Wednesday

27th Mar 2019

Non-EU seasonal workers to get equal rights

  • Seasonal fruit pickers are among those set to benefit from EU rules voted Wednesday (Photo: Manchester-Monkey)

Foreign seasonal workers in the EU will have the same employment and social rights as their EU counterparts, under new rules adopted by the European Parliament on Wednesday (5 February).

MEPs in Strasbourg signed off on the bloc's first set of pan-EU rules on temporary seasonal workers which will give them the same work-place rights as EU nationals on minimum pay, working hours, holidays, and health and safety requirements.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The European Commission estimates that over 100,000 third-country seasonal workers come to the EU every year.

The legislation requires all applications to enter the EU as a seasonal worker to include a work contract or a binding job offer specifying essentials such as pay and working hours.

In one of the main concessions from governments to MEPs, it will also have to include evidence that the worker will have appropriate accommodation.

It will also give workers the right to move employment at least once and includes the threat of sanctions for unscrupulous employers.

However, governments will retain the right to decide how many seasonal workers they allow into their country each year, although they will be required to fix a maximum length of stay for non-EU seasonal workers, of between five and nine months over a 12-month period.

Governments will now have two and a half years to put the new rules into effect.

Speaking at a press conference following the vote, Claude Moraes, the British Labour MEP who piloted the bill through parliament, said that the "historic legislation" was the EU's "first piece of law on low-waged labour."

He added that the legislation, which has been three years in the making, had been drawn up in the wake of a series of scandals revealing exploitation of seasonal workers.

"People have been working in circumstances of semi-slavery," commented Spanish MEP Alejandro Cercas, who led for the parliament's employment committee on the new rules. "We simply cannot have an EU worthy of the name if we are going to treat people in such an undignified way," he concluded.

EU struggles to tidy up migrant worker rules

While the European Commission is busy planning measures to boost jobs for legal immigrants to the EU, the union's new member states are demanding work barriers against their citizens should be dropped first.

EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law

The European Parliament backed a law on copyrighted content online. Defenders says it will safeguard right holders from being exploited by big tech firms. Critics say it spells the end of internet freedoms and curtails expression.

Opinion

Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?

Ahead of the European Parliament election in May, the bloc is ideologically split between authoritarians seeking to reduce its sway, and those seeking a moderate track. In essence, voters have to decide if they want to move forwards or backwards.

Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem

Romania will move its embassy to Jerusalem, its prime minister has said, shattering the EU line on the Arab-Israeli conflict while the country holds the EU rotating presidency.

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

News in Brief

  1. EU tables plan for joint approach to 5G security
  2. MEPs agree to scrap summer time clock changes by 2021
  3. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  4. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  5. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  6. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  7. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  8. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law
  2. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  3. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  4. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  5. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  6. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  7. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  8. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us