EMEcs. Supporting posted workers through the pandemic
EMEcs (European market environment in the construction sector) is a new research project leaded by Commissione Nazionale Paritetica per le Casse Edili, and dedicated to understanding how posted workers in the construction sector were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini is managing the research activities of the projects.
Posted workers have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as EU Member States were required to introduce several restrictions to worker mobility in order to protect public health. These measures vary from the reintroduction of physical borders – a phenomenon unseen in the EU since the apparition of the Schengen zone – to new health and safety rules introduced in or around the workplace.
This situation was particularly problematic for migrant workers and posted workers, as they are more vulnerable to exploitation and unhealthy working conditions due to their lack of language skills, personal networks and knowledge of national legislation.
The pandemic also led to challenges on the level of social protection, with workers from low-wage countries often blocked in countries with a higher cost of living, with no pay or access to unemployment benefits. Other problems are added in the case of third-country nationals – many of whom are posted in the construction sector – as they do not have the same universal access to health care as EU citizens.
Amongst the wider problematic of posting, the project has a particular focus on the posting of construction workers, a sector which covers over 40% of all posting in the EU and which is at particular risk in case of lower mobility, with many construction workers in the EU working in a country other than that of their birth.
This research project is dedicated to understanding how posted workers have been affected by the measures introduced by Member States to fight the pandemic, how these obstacles to posting can be overcome and how workers can be better protected in the future.
The main objectives of the project are to:
- Develop an evidence-based understanding of the challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis for companies and workers engaged in the posting of construction workers.
- Evaluate the measures thus far put in place to address the situation created by COVID-19, both on the national and European level.
- Understand how monitoring and enforcement activities can benefit from new tools.
- Formulate policy recommendations at cross-country and EU level to address risks of future emergency situations, better support posted workers, including vulnerable groups such as third-country nationals, and better monitor key aspects for working and living conditions of posted workers.
The project is funded by the EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).