EU agrees minimum wage legislation to ensure decent living standards for workers

BEIS records big rise in minimum wage avoidanceThe European Union (EU) has agreed on legislation to ensure that minimum wages in all member countries are set high enough to guarantee decent living standards for workers.

Parliament and Council negotiators decided to set adequate minimum wages as provided by national law and collective agreements, with the legislation applying to all EU workers who have an employment contract. However, EU countries where the minimum wage is protected via collective agreements will not be obliged to introduce it.

According to the agreement, member states will assess whether their existing statutory minimum wages are adequate to ensure a decent standard of living, taking into account socio-economic conditions, purchasing power, and the long-term national productivity levels and developments.

Furthermore, EU countries will be required to strengthen sectoral and cross-industry collective bargaining to protect workers by providing them with a minimum wage, while member states in which less than 80% of the workforce is protected by a collective agreement will have to create an action plan to increase this coverage.

EU countries will also be obliged to set up an enforcement system, including “reliable monitoring, controls and field inspections, to ensure compliance and address abusive sub-contracting, bogus self-employment, non-recorded overtime or increased work intensity.”

The Employment and Social Affairs Committee now has to approve the provisional agreement reached by the negotiating team, followed by a plenary vote. The Council also has to approve the deal.

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Dennis Radtke, a member of the Group of the European People’s Party, said: “With the agreement on minimum wages, we are writing socio-political history in Europe. For the first time, EU legislation will contribute directly to ensuring that workers are getting fairer, better pay checks.”

Dragos Pislaru, chair of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, added: “The directive opens new opportunities for European citizens to avoid in-work poverty and gain access to social dialogue. It creates transparent and appropriate procedures as well as common enforcement measures at EU level while also balancing national particularities.”