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Report: digitally accessible and understandable information, promoting cross-border cooperation on enforcement and information exchanges needed to encourage workers and employers to follow posting rules in the construction sector

Published date

ELA published today a report concerning information provision, enforcement, social security coordination and cooperation between Member States in relation to posting of workers in the EU construction sector.

Press release

The study identifies a number of shortcomings in enforcement and awareness raising activities as well as measures to overcome these shortcomings. It also includes cross-border matching initiatives to address labour market imbalances in the sector. The findings of the study are significant for ELA as a guidance on how to improve its support to Member States in these activities.

ELA published today a report concerning information provision, enforcement, social security coordination and cooperation between Member States in relation to posting of workers in the construction sector. The study, which findings are presented in the report, was conducted between October 2022 and May 2023.

The study shows that the most prevalent violations and abusive practices include the establishment of letterbox companies, non-compliance with working conditions, bogus self-employment, fraudulent PD A1 (Portable Document A1) usage and fraudulent posting of third country nationals. Labour inspectorates can inspect and sanction these violations and abusive practices, but they often lack sufficient financial and staff resources, and experience difficulties in identifying some factual elements in such posting contexts (e.g. place of registration of undertakings, number of contracts performed, whether or not the posted workers return to or are expected to resume working in the sending Member State) to properly carry out their inspection activities. Furthermore, imposition of sanctions and their effective implementation can be difficult in a cross-border situation.

The report identified several measures that could prevent non-compliance with the rules. These include the provision of social ID cards to posted workers, subcontracting chain liability schemes to make it possible to identify the actors in those chains, limitations on subcontracting and specific public procurement rules.

Another measure is information and awareness raising among workers and employers. The Member States, together with social partners and the European Commission, have in the past launched several measures to better diffuse information to workers and employers about their rights and obligations in a posting context. Despite this, workers and employers in the construction sector are still not considered to be well informed. Moreover, major deficiencies in the communication tools and methods have been identified, leading to confusion and difficulty in accessing relevant information, for instance use of complex legal language, lack of translations, and scattered sources of information.

While the EU construction sector is facing significant labour and skill shortages, this problem needs to be addressed. Member States have already implemented various cross-border initiatives, including skills development, training opportunities and cross-border cooperation. There are also several initiatives to make recruitment of third-country nationals possible, often through bilateral agreements with third countries.

ELA can play a role to improve the enforcement of and adherence to posting rules in Member States in the construction sector. ELA can raise awareness among workers and employers and contribute to the improvement of data collection on labour mobility in the construction sector.

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ELA report on Construction sector: issues in information provision, enforcement of labour mobility law, social security coordination regulations, and cooperation between Member States

This study analyses challenges related to the enforcement of labour mobility and social security laws in the construction sector, with a specific focus on the posting of workers. 

English (1.79 MB - PDF)
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Background information

The construction sector plays a vital role in the EU economy, employing approximately 13 million people and contributing around 5.5 % to the gross value added (GVA). In 2021, around one in four portable documents A1 (PDs A1) issued was granted for services in the EU construction sector. This amounts to an approximate estimate of 833 000 PDs A1 issued in the sector. Germany was the primary receiving country for posted workers in the EU construction sector, while Poland was the main sending country. The 2021 figures indicated a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in most Member States as far as the number of postings was concerned. A relatively high rate of third country nationals (TCNs) are employed in the EU construction sector and posted to other Member States than their own Member State of residence. These TCNs face some specific challenges compared to other posted workers, such as dependence on employers for work permits, language barriers, irregular employment, non-payment of social contributions and more exposure to occupational health and safety risks.

The ELA Strategic Analysis series keeps track of emerging trends, challenges and loopholes in the areas of labour mobility and social security coordination. It includes in-depth analyses and studies that investigate specific issues, recurring problems and sector-specific challenges.

Press contacts

Pia Fallström Mujkic

European Labour Authority
Communications Team Leader & Spokesperson
pressatela [dot] europa [dot] eu (press[at]ela[dot]europa[dot]eu)