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EU Posted Workers Directives: regulatory framework for posting workers in Europe

A complete guide on EU posted workers directives.

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Posted workers directives

In the context of free movement within the European Union, the provision of services plays a key role in facilitating the free movement of services and promoting economic integration. To regulate this aspect, the European Union (EU) has implemented a series of directives, aimed at harmonizing national laws and ensuring equal conditions for posted workers.

This article focuses on the analysis of EU directives regulating the posting of workers in Europe, taking into account their origins, aims and implications.

For an overview of EU laws on employment, take a look at our guide on EU labour law.

The principles of EU posted workers directives

The premises for EU posted workers directives may be traced back to the EU’s commitment on free movement of workers and services.

The Treaty of Rome, signed in 1957, laid the foundation for the creation of a common market, emphasizing the importance of eliminating barriers to the free movement of goods, services and workers. The free movement principle has been stressed also in further treaties and agreements. This demonstrates the EU’s commitment to create a unified and efficient economic area.

Directive 96/71/CE: The pioneer directive

Directive 96/71/EC on posting of workers has represented a milestone in the regulation of posted workers within the EU. Adopted in 1996, this directive aimed to guarantee basic working conditions to posted workers in the Host Member State, thus promoting fair competition and avoiding social dumping.

Directive 96/71/EC established a series of fundamental principles. Among these are: minimum wages, maximum working periods and mimum rest periods, as well as minimum paid annual leave.

European working conditions in terms of working hours, breaks and annual leave are provided by the EU Working Time Directive.

However, the directive did not focus on questions such as collective bargaining agreements or social security contributions, thus leaving space for subsequent directives to address such aspects.

Directive 2014/67/EU: Strengthening enforcement and cooperation

Having recognized the need to strengthen the available enforcement and cooperation mechanisms, the EU introduced Directive 2014/67/EU. This directive modified Directive 96/71/CE and aimed to guarantee the practical enforcement of the norms on posting.

The enforcement Directive 2014/67/EC confirms the importance of administrative cooperation among Member States, by demanding them to exchange information and cooperate to ensure the effective implementation of posted workers’ rights.

Directive 2018/957/EU: A new era for posted workers

By building on the foundations established by previous directives, Directive (EU) 2018/957 has made significant changes to the regulatory framework for posting within the EU. This directive addressed key issues, such as wages, allowances, and duration of posting.

One of the most important changes introduced by Directive 2018/957 is the focus on equal pay. Indeed, the directive restates that posted workers are entitled to the same retribution and conditions which are applied to local workers performing the same functions in the Host Member State.

Such innovation marked a decisive step towards ensuring fair and equal treatment for all workers, irrespective of their country of origin.

Directive 2019/1152/EU: Strengthening workers’ rights and social dialogue

The regulatory framework on posted workers has been further imporved through the introduction of Directive 2019/1152/EU. The directive was adopted to strengthen workers’ rights and promote social dialogue. It focuses on fostering better working conditions and transparency in sharing information.

Directive 2019/1152/EU places strong emphasis on transparency and on the predictability of working conditions, providing posted workers with detailed information on their employment, before and during the posting.


Although EU posted workers directives aim to establish equal conditions and protect workers’ rights, there are still some challenges and critical issues. A relevant concern regards the different interpretations and implementations of these directives in the various Member States. The lack of uniformity in the application of the norms may result in inequality and may hinder the effective protection of posted workers.

The regulatory framework for the posting of workers in Europe has evolved significantly over time, reflecting the European Union’s commitment to guarantee equal working conditions and prevent social dumping. From the pioneering Directive 96/71/EC to the transformative Directive (EU) 2018/957 and worker-centered Directive 2019/1152/EU, these directives have shaped the framework regulating global mobility of workers among Member States.

Despite the progress achieved to improve posted workers’s rights and protection, some challenges still persist. The achievement of an harmonized and consistently applied system is still a work in progress. This will require continuous cooperation and dialogue among the Member States.

While the EU keeps improving and expanding its directives on posted workers, the objective remains clear: finding a balance between facilitating free movement of people and services and protecting fundamental rights and equality for all workers within the European Union.

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Regulatory Framework

DIRECTIVE 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services


DIRECTIVE 2014/67/EU on the enforcement of Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services


DIRECTIVE (EU) 2018/957 amending Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services


DIRECTIVE (EU) 2019/1152 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union


Learn more about Posting of Workers to Europe

Have a look at our in-depth guides about Posting of Workers to EU Countries. If you don’t know where to start, you can have a first look at our introduction on Posting of Workers to Europe.

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