France reported a steep increase in the number of posted workers from southern and eastern Europe in 2016 despite Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to curb cheap EU labour, according to the country’s General Directorate of Labour.
In 2005, only 26,466 posted workers were registered in the country.
Although the new figures reveal a “staggering increase” in the number of France-based ‘foreign’ EU workers, the rise needs to be interpreted “with caution,” the General Directorate of Labour said.
Companies are “more aware of the rules” regarding the terms and conditions of employment to be applied to posted workers, while the country has “reinforced controls to fight against fraud and abuses,” the labour body added.
The majority of posted workers in France are from Spain (17,438), closely followed by Portugal (15,869), Germany (14,709) and Poland (14,624).
While some 22 per cent are hired as temporary workers, 18 per cent are hired as construction workers.
In addition, 453 fines totalling 2.4 million euros (£2.1 million) were handed out to companies found guilty of ‘social dumping’ and exploiting posted workers last year.
Macron has vowed to overhaul the EU’s controversial posted workers’ directive, which allows Brussels nationals to work in other EU countries on contracts which guarantee the host country’s minimum wage, but allow taxes and social charges to be paid in the home nation.
The French President has argued that the system creates unfair competition in richer member states and “undercuts” the host nation’s labour force.
Mr Macron said in August: “The posted workers’ directive as it currently functions is a betrayal of the European spirit in its essence.
In October, the bloc agreed to impose an 18-month limit on the posting of ‘cheaper’ EU workers, a decision which was hailed by the French.
The French centrist tweeted shortly after the decision was announced: “Europe is moving forward, I salute the ambitious agreement on posted workers: more protection, less fraud.”