This report gives an overview of the Con3Post project1 research that analyses a new and understudied phenomenon of posting third country nationals (TCNs) in the European construction sector, with a special focus on the posting flow involving workers from Ukraine being posted to Finland and Estonia through Poland. The research highlights severe regulatory challenges related to the phenomenon. These include posted TCNs being exposed to multiple vulnerabilities that are even more extreme than intra-European Union (EU) posted workers are usually exposed to. These are: lack of occupational safety and health training and having no accident insurance coverage, not receiving wages and other employment conditions the workers should be entitled to, not asking for help from authorities/unions and falling through the cracks of social security systems.
We argue that, although posting of TCNs happens for a variety of reasons (including labour market disparities between the sending and receiving countries, established migration routes and ever increasing migration industry), there is also clear evidence that some companies are trying to gain competitive advantage by avoiding inspections and by opting out of more expensive and difficult ways of hiring migrants. As with conventional posting, this can stem from the availability of undemanding TCN workers, and the possibility to hire them via complex corporate constructions which shield employers from liability for violations and inspections.
TCN posted workers are even more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse than intra-EU posted workers, because of the increased difficulties in monitoring TCN posting, the lower expectations of TCN workers, and their often unclear immigration status. To improve the situation for posted TCNs, and ensure fair functioning of the free movement of labour (and labour as services), we provide multiple recommendations (see Chapter six) at the workplace, sector, country and regional level including extensive cooperation between regulatory actors, more resources for inspections, better regulations throughout the whole posting chain and lowering the barriers for TCNs to know their rights and ask for help in case of problems.