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Posting workers

Belgium’s Regulation to Fight Social Dumping among Foreign Posted Workers is illegal, says the Commission
The background to the measures taken by Belgium is the social security fraud involving posted workers that has spread recently in the country, as well as the spread of bogus self-employment, both in the construction sector and in other sectors. Companies, mostly Belgian, create letterbox companies in other EU countries, and these companies “post” workers in Belgium, saving labour costs by often not paying social security contributions anywhere.

The workers coming to Belgium have an A1 form issued in their home country which means that the Belgian authorities cannot intervene in their “posting situation”. Only the countries that have issued the forms can revoke them. When Belgian authorities try to work together with the authorities in the sending countries, they are mostly unsuccessful. Towards the end of 2012, Belgium enacted a regulation to fight this phenomenon. The regulation gives the right to the Social Inspectorate and judges to suspend the A1 certificate if social fraud is proven.

“The infringement procedures undertaken by the Commission against Belgium are unacceptable,” says Sam Hägglund, General Secretary of the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers, “since the Belgian regulation is introduced to fight social security fraud and bogus self-employment in cross-border posting. This is also a politically bad sign, especially now when we are debating the Enforcement Directive, and some decision-makers in Europe want to have a closed list of measures that Member States and trade unions can undertake to enforce working conditions for foreign posted workers. We can also note that the Belgian regulation is fully supported by both trade unions and employers’ organizations in Belgium.”

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