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Preventing Exploitation through the Seasonal Workers Directive

Conny Rijken

After more than three years of negotiations, political agreement was reached on the Directive on Seasonal workers on 29 October 2013. The directive aims to harmonise the entry of Third Country Nationals (TCN) who want temporary employment in the EU. By granting a secure legal status and equal treatment for working conditions and access to appropriate accommodation the directive further aims to prevent TCN from exploitation. In addition it includes an proposal on circular migration, facilitating the re-entering for seasonal workers to contribute to fighting illegal migration. The directive is typically designed for sectors with a high need for workers during a certain period of the year, e.g. tourism and agriculture. Sectors of which we know are sensitive for exploitative practices. Seasonal workers will be treated equally with EU nationals on core elements of terms of employment and some branches of social security, but are however excluded from others. Some guarantees relating to safe and adequate living conditions are adopted, including in such cases the employer provides for the accommodation. In the latter case a situation of enhanced dependency exist making the worker multiple dependent on the employer increasing the risk of abuse and ultimately exploitation. The paper will assess the extent to which the goals of the Directive are or can be achieved with a specific focus on the aim to prevent exploitation. In particular standards on corporate social responsibility to prevent exploitation will be employed to conduct the assessment.

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