19/12/2011 Single work permit for foreign workers

Workers from outside the European Union will be able to benefit from similar rights to those granted to EU citizens with regard to working conditions, social security and access to public services. This is as a result of a vote approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday December 13th on the "single permit" directive. Once the directive is published in the Official Journal, Member States will have two years to transpose the directive into their national legislation.

Providing a common basis and responding to the labour crisis.

"The single permit will enable us to deal to some extent with the labour crisis that is appearing on Europe’s horizon. It will mean that all types of migration can be better monitored and will discourage attempts at fraud and illegal migration," said MEP Véronique Mathieu (EPP, FR) when presenting an outline of this new tool. She added that it will reduce red tape as the single procedure involved leads to both a work a residency and work permit.

Besides simplifying the procedures for work and residency permits, the single permit will provide a common basis for the rights of non-EU workers and EU workers. Equal treatment of workers is central to this directive.

Recipients of the single permit

The text adopted on Tuesday December 13th will apply to non-Europeans who want to live and work in a Member States or who have already legally lived or worked in an EU country.

The new rules do not apply to: long-term residents, refugees, posted workers (who are already covered by other EU regulations), seasonal workers or people transferred within a company (who will be covered by other community directives). Au pairs and seafarers sailing under the flag of a Member States will also be excluded.

Why is the legislation separate to that applicable to European workers ? Those benefitting from a single permit will have rights comparable to those of EU workers: conditions essential for decent work, recognition of qualifications, the right to trade union membership and access to pensions, social security, employment office services and public housing. However, Member States will be able to apply certain specific restrictions to these rights.

Regarding social security, Member States will be able to apply restrictions for workers who have contracts of less than six months. For citizens of third countries who come to Europe for studies, family benefits could also be reduced. Member States may also restrict access to public services such as housing for workers who have a job.

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