Personal Immigration

Better working conditions and social rights for seasonal workers

Non-EU seasonal workers would enjoy basic working and living conditions, such as a minimum wage and decent accommodation, under draft legislation endorsed by the European Civil Liberties Committee. These rules would tackle exploitation, while preventing temporary stays from becoming permanent. The European Commission estimates that over 100,000 third-country seasonal workers come to the EU every year.

The proposed rules are set to be the first on seasonal employment at EU level, but they will not affect Member States’ right to determine admission volumes or reject applications if workers could be hired locally to do the job. EU countries should also be free to define seasonal work beyond its traditional link to agriculture and tourism activities, such as fruit picking, say MEPs. This should be done in consultation with social partners and ensuring that all activities have a seasonal aspect.

An application to obtain a “seasonal worker permit” should include a work contract or a binding job offer specifying essential aspects, such as pay and working hours, say MEPs. It should also include evidence that the worker will benefit from adequate accommodation. Rent should not be excessive or automatically deducted from a worker's wage, says the committee.

The adopted text says that employers should pay for travel costs from the place of origin to the place of work and vice versa. Employers should also pay the visa fee and the cost of health insurance before the start of the contract.

The new rules aim to promote non-EU workers’ movement between a third country and the EU for temporary stay and work. This would be done either through a multi-season permit covering up to three consecutive years or by simplifying procedures for returning applicants.

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