Hiring seasonal workers in the EU: a checklist for employers
Free movement of workers is one of the four freedoms guaranteed by the European Single Market. This means that EU citizens, as well as non-EU individuals legally residing in EU countries, can be legally employed in another EU Member State, including for seasonal jobs, and have the right to be treated on an equal footing with nationals of that Member State. Specifically, seasonal workers employed in another EU country are entitled to the same employment conditions as nationals of the host EU Member State, to the same assistance from the national employment offices, and to the same level of social protection as other insured individuals in that country. Therefore, if you hire seasonal workers across the EU, whether directly or via a temporary work agency, there are a number of rules to follow.
Legal recruitment and employment
Employers can only hire workers whose identity is known, and who are allowed to work in the country. If you recruit seasonal workers through an employment agency, make sure it is trustworthy – for instance, it should have the licences required and comply with the applicable rules. Make sure you conduct these checks before the contract starts. Seasonal workers must be hired legally, and some EU countries provide specific forms of employment for seasonal work – find further information on https://ec.europa.eu/eures/main.
Posted seasonal workers
If a seasonal worker is posted to work in another EU country, the terms and conditions of employment of the host Member State apply, just as for local workers. Conditions include, for instance, salary, work and rest periods, accommodation, as well as health, safety and hygiene measures at work.
Seasonal workers hired through a temporary work agency in one EU country to work in another Member State are also considered as posted workers. This means that, also in this case, the same terms and conditions of employment of local workers apply.
Check the terms and conditions of work for posted workers in your country on the relevant websites (information is available on YourEurope), and verify whether temporary work agencies based in other EU countries have submitted the required posting declarations.
Non-EU seasonal workers who reside either in an EU Member State other than the one where they are or will be employed, or in a country outside the EU, usually need to apply for a visa, work or residence permit to stay and work in an EU country.
Non-EU nationals residing in a country outside the EU and are employed as seasonal workers an a Member State of the Union are covered by the Seasonal Workers Directive. It sets the conditions for their admissions and their rights once in the EU. The EU Immigration Portal provides information specifically relevant for these national workers.
Besides these differences, overall EU and non-EU seasonal workers have the same rights and are covered by the same rules, notably in term of health and safety at work, working conditions, and rules on posted workers when applicable.
Occupational health and safety
Employers have the obligation to ensure the health and safety of all the workers they employ for all aspects related to their job. These include the prevention of all occupational risks, the provision of appropriate information and training and of the necessary protective equipment. If a worker speaks a different language, you should ensure that they receive the relevant safety instructions in a language they know.
Accurate risk assessment is key to safe and healthy workplaces. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has developed free Online interactive Risk Assessment tools to help you carry out a step-by-step risk assessment process and take the appropriate preventive measures. You can also consult this list of useful resources indicating the necessary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Transport and living conditions
Seasonal workers should have decent living and working conditions. The transport means and accommodation for the seasonal workers you hire should meet the health and safety standards in force in your country, including COVID-19-related social distancing and health and safety measures. Employers are advised to provide or arrange for an accommodation at a fair price compared to its quality and to the seasonal workers’ net salary.
The remuneration should be in accordance with the rules in the country of employment. Employers should verify whether a statutory minimum wage exists, or if it is set out in a collective agreement applicable to their company. You can find detailed information on the website of the Ministry of Employment in your country, or on YourEurope.
Generally speaking, seasonal workers are subject to the social security legislation of the country of employment, even if they live in another EU country. However, exception to this general rule exist – for instance, for workers who are employed or posted in several EU Member States. It is necessary to discover in which country social security contributions are payable for employees in similar cross-border situations.
Posted seasonal workers are subject to the social security legislation of the posting country and must be in possession of a Portable Document A1. This is issued by the posting country, and social insurance contributions are payable there.
Find out more about workers’ social security contributions on YourEurope.
Registration of working hours
Keeping records of working hours enables you to prove that your company complies with the statutory work and rest periods. According to EU directive on the organisation of working time, employers must ensure that their staff does not more than 48 hours per week on average (including overtime), over a reference period of up to 4 months. Employees are entitled to at least 11 consecutive hours of daily rest, and at least 24 hours of uninterrupted weekly rest every 7 days, over a reference period of 2 weeks. Employees working 6 hours a day also have the right to take a break – the duration is specified in collective agreements or by national law. Detailed information is available on this dedicated section in YourEurope.
To sum up…
Visit the YourEurope website for detailed information on:
- Practical, legal and administrative aspects on doing business in the EU, including employment contracts;
- EU standards for working and rest hours, breaks, annual leave and night work;
- EU rules on workers' social security contributions.