A tool to promote “fair mobility” for frontier workers

A tool to promote “fair mobility” for frontier workers

Fair labour mobility is not only an issue when companies post workers across the EU, exercising their freedom to provide services. Also, in the area of frontier work, unfair competition on employment conditions and misinformation can lead to undesired social outcomes. Too often, unfortunately, there is unfair mobility, including in border regions.

Fair mobility ensures that employees who work across borders are rewarded as they should be, but are also socially insured and taxed in the right place.

The Interregional Trade Union Councils (ITUCs) Rhine Ijssel, Maas Rhine and Scheldt Kempen have taken the initiative to assess the development of an easily accessible instrument for the employee to check the work situation for irregularities: The Fair Mobility Tool (FMT).

In order to know whether such a tool already exists and, if not, what it should look like, the ITUCs requested ITEM to conduct an exploratory study on “fair mobility” for the cross-border worker and the feasibility of such a tool. This initial study received support within the framework of the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

Support through awareness-raising and abuse alert
The study conducted by ITEM finds that under certain conditions such tool could have an added value if tailored to a particular type of cross-border workers. Two important findings are that the comparison of similar initiatives has, in fact, shown a lack of attention for labour law questions. Also, existing advisory sites may give information in a manner that appears rather fragmented.

Based on this analysis, ITEM recommends to design the envisaged tool in such a way to serve in particular those frontier workers in (potentially) the most precarious situations. Because it appears that it is with regard to the variety of flexible employment contracts where the application of labour, social security and tax rules in cross-border situations seems especially challenging.

This has been confirmed by a survey of experts drawn from different networks, notably those of trade union cross-border advisers, the Cross-Border Information Points (GIP)) along the Dutch border and the network of EURES-advisers. The study concluded that the tool could be an important means to address obstacles and help tackling abuses in cross-border employment with flexible contracts.

Development of a web-app
To conclude this first exploratory phase of the research, the ITUCs have jointly organised a Fair Mobility conference in Duisburg on 11 June 2019. This offered a moment of reflection and room for further refinement on these initial insights.

Here, ITEM discussed the research report with a broad specialised audience of trade unionists, members and actors in cross-border employment and labour market policy to. The debate also touched the question to what extent the tool might in future provide a source of information to the new European Labour Authority (ELA).

The ITUCs underlined that the report offered a constructive common basis, successfully bridging the rather diverse starting points of the participating union organisations from three countries. The unions are thus determined to work together throughout 2019 to realise the fair mobility tool.