Seasonal employment – third-country nationals

EESC opinion: Seasonal employment – third-country nationals

Key points

The Committee welcomes the proposed directive, which is part of European efforts to develop a broad-based approach to legal migration. The proposed directive can help meet increased demand for seasonal labour that cannot be covered by national workers. The proposal also makes a key contribution to combating illegal immigration.

The Committee is particularly pleased about the simplified and accelerated admission procedures as seasonal work is, by its very nature, time-limited and businesses face staffing shortages during these particular periods.

The Committee is also happy that it is left up to the Member States to decide whether to carry out a labour market test. In that connection, the Committee would recommend involving the social partners in any measures relating to the admission of third-country nationals as seasonal workers.

The Committee would call on the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament to review the provision on the maximum duration of stay, as a period of six months in any calendar year fails to meet the needs of businesses in, for instance, two-season countries. The Committee therefore suggests that, where justified, it should be possible for national exceptions from the maximum duration of stay to be made in close consultation with the social partners. It is important to ensure that this does not become a way of circumventing the seasonal nature of the employment contract and the attendant system of checks and balances.

The Committee calls for the directive to contain clear rules on which economic sectors may comprise activities dependent on the passing of the seasons. It should be possible to make exceptions at national level in close consultation with the social partners.

The Committee would point out that seasonal workers are given temporary access to the labour market of the Member State concerned. In line with the lex loci laboris principle (the law of the place of work), they must therefore, under employment law, be granted equal treatment with nationals of the host Member State, regardless of whether the rights concerned accrue from legislation, generally applicable collective agreements or regional collective agreements. However, equal treatment in social security matters should be conditional on appropriate bilateral agreements being in place.