Documents considered by the Committee on 4 May 2016 Contents

3Posting of Workers Directive

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee; Opinion requested from the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee

Document details

Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services

Legal base

Articles 53(1) and 62, TFEU; QMV

Department

Business, Innovation and Skills

Document Numbers

(37591), 6987/16 + ADDs 1–2, COM(16) 128

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

3.1The Commission has proposed to revise the EU’s Posting of Workers Directive to address unfair practices and promote the principle that the same work at the same place should be remunerated in the same manner.

3.2The proposal includes three key amendments to the original Directive:

3.3These changes come in addition to the “Enforcement Directive”, which is due to be transposed by 18 June 2016 and which responded to weak implementation and enforcement of the original Directive.

3.4The Minister for Skills, Nick Boles, offered no detail on the Government’s position in his Explanatory Memorandum of 24 March. He has subsequently written in response to the queries that we raised in our Report of 13 April, details of which are set out below. In summary, the Minister explains that analysis on the substantive points raised by the Committee is continuing and that he will write to the Committee again when more detail is available.

3.5The new proposal falls within the category of documents to which national parliaments may object on the grounds that the principle of subsidiarity—the principle that the EU should only act where the objective of the action is most effectively achieved by EU-level rather than national or regional action—has been breached. In our Report of 13 April, we did not recommend that the House issue a formal Reasoned Opinion.

3.6The Minister has responded to all of the issues raised but has not offered any substantive analysis. He draws the Committee’s attention to the Government’s concerns with the impact assessment. He also assures the Committee that the Government will be consulting a wide range of stakeholders.

3.7We note that the impact assessment was the subject of discussion at the Social Questions Working Group on 28 April. We note also that there have been several other meetings of that Working Group to discuss this proposal. As the Minister will be aware, we are currently inquiring into the transparency of the Council generally, including its preparatory groups. In his next update, we would welcome information on the broad themes and direction of discussion in each of the Working Group meetings to date. We note that the Council has only published the Outcome of Proceedings for the meeting of 11 April 2016.

3.8On the matter of the proposal’s compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, we maintain our recommendation that the House does not issue a Reasoned Opinion. Our view is that the identified objective—to resolve concerns arising from implementation of the existing Directive, which in itself applies to a cross-border policy—could only be achieved by EU-level action.

3.9This is clearly a matter which may have an impact on UK employers and workers. Given the importance of this topic and the controversy it has engendered across the EU, we ask our colleagues on the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee for an opinion. We would be grateful for receipt of the opinion by the end of June so that we can, if necessary, return to this before the summer adjournment.

3.10We retain the proposal under scrutiny and invite the Minister to write to us again once the Government has arrived at a position and setting out the progress of negotiations. We draw this chapter to the attention of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services: (37591), 6987/16 + ADDs 1-2, COM(16) 128.

Background

3.11Our twenty eighth Report,11 agreed on 13 April, provides detail on the existing Directive, the Commission’s proposed amendment, the amendment agreed in 2014 (the “Enforcement Directive”) and the Government position as set out in the Minister’s Explanatory Memorandum of 24 March.

3.12Our Report retained the proposal under scrutiny and raised the following points:

3.13We asked that the Minister:

3.14We considered the document to contain issues of policy interest and therefore drew it to the attention of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee.

The Minister’s letter of 28 April 2016

3.15The Minister explains12 that his officials are currently carrying out legal and economic analysis of the proposal. He emphasises the complexity of that analysis:

“The interaction of the Posting of Workers Directive with other pieces of EU legislation, such as the Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive and Agency Workers Directive, means that it is important to analyse the proposal in this wider context before arriving at a position. I will update the committee as soon as further information is available.”

3.16On the proposal’s compliance with the subsidiarity principle, he says:

“We are engaging with other Member States, to understand fully their perspectives on this issue. This will feed into our own national legal analysis, along with our analysis of the argument outlined in the impact assessment. I will update the committee on the issue of subsidiarity as soon as our analysis is complete.”

3.17In response to the Committee’s query about the impact of the proposal on workers affected by company-level agreements, he responds as follows:

“Officials are currently considering the proposal from legal and economic perspectives, taking into account different categories of workers posted to and from the UK and the pattern of collective agreements, including at company level. I will update the committee as soon as further information is available.”

3.18Concerning the proposal’s effectiveness in responding to the identified problem, he says:

“The proposal’s impact assessment will be the topic of the next Social Questions Working Group on 28 April. It is hoped that this session will facilitate in-depth discussion of the identified problem, and of the proposal’s relationship with the presented evidence base. I will update the committee when further information is available.”

3.19He later adds:

“The Dutch Presidency has given all Member States the opportunity to submit their views on the Commission’s impact assessment in the form of a questionnaire. The UK intends to request further information and clarification on areas including:

3.20As regards the positions adopted by other Member States, he explains:

“The government does not yet have a position on the proposal, and as such, is engaging Member States with a wide range of perspectives to inform our own analysis. We and other Member States have sought and continue to seek further explanation from the Commission as to exactly what ‘remuneration’ comprises in this proposal. It will be difficult to assess the implications of any references to equal pay until this is fully clarified.”

3.21Finally, on consultation, he says:

“The government will carefully analyse the consequences of proposed amendments for UK businesses, and for workers both posted from and posted to the UK. We will consult a wide range of stakeholders, including trade unions.”

Previous Committee Reports

Twenty-eighth Report HC 342-xxvii (2015–16), chapter 6 (13 April 2016).


11 Twenty-eighth Report HC 342-xxvii (2015–16), chapter 6 (13 April 2016).




© Parliamentary copyright 2015

10 May 2016