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The European Commission presented guidelines on the protection of seasonal workers in the EU in mid-July. Indeed, their working conditions have proved particularly bad in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The document sets out the actions to be taken at European level, by national authorities, labour inspectorates and social partners to guarantee the rights, health and safety at work (OSH) and information of these workers.
With regard to OHS in particular, the Commission points out that the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC and the twenty or so individual Directives apply in full. It calls on the Member States to raise awareness of these provisions and to work in particular on the following aspects:
- the close monitoring and full application of the rules applicable under the Framework Directive,
- low awareness of OHS conditions and low perception of risks due to batch work, language barriers and lack of training for seasonal workers, compared to workers in more stable jobs,
- the inclusion of seasonal workers in consultation and participation mechanisms dealing with OHS issues.
In addition, practical guidance should be made available to micro and small enterprises in particular which employ part of the seasonal workforce. Cooperation between countries should be intensified, in particular through the Advisory Committee on OSH and the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee. Field inspections should be strengthened. Employers’ and employees’ organisations should be encouraged to explore and promote mechanisms to ensure that the specific needs of seasonal workers are properly taken into account.