ECJ strengthens the rights of foreign temporary workers

At the end of 2020, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) had already ruled that EU citizens who temporarily work in another EU country should be allowed there have to be paid just like locals. According to the court, this also applies in principle to social security regulations, see above the judgment of the ECJ now in a different case. It specifically strengthens the social rights of foreign temporary workers in Germany.

The background to the decision is a case in which a Bulgarian was placed with a German company via a local temporary employment agency. He had hired a Bulgarian temporary employment agency in 2018, but was then loaned to a company in Germany for several months on the basis of this contract in the autumn of that year.

Are temporary employment agencies looking specifically for low social standards?

Because, according to the city of Varna, the temporary employment agency does not have any "significant activity" in Bulgaria exercised, she refused an application to certify that Bulgarian social standards could be applied. The temporary employment agency then submitted an application to the local administrative court, which decided to ask the ECJ for an opinion.

The ECJ has now ruled in principle - without deciding on the specific case: If a temporary employment agency mainly places workers in other EU countries, it cannot simply apply the social security regulations of the country in which the company is domiciled. If this were possible, it could lead to companies "setting up in the Member State whose social security legislation would be most beneficial for them," the court said.

In the long run, it could reduce the level of protection for workers and distort competition between companies that employ temporary workers and those that hire their workers directly.

According to the European Court of Justice, a temporary employment agency is in principle only "normally active" in a member state if it also carries out a significant part of its activity for user companies that operate on the territory of the same country. The mere selection and hiring of temporary workers is not enough.

Case C-784/19