The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) clarified in its decision published on 1 December 2020 that the Posted Workers Directive 96/71/EC should be applied to drivers in the international road transport sector.
The case involved three transport companies (i.e. a Dutch, a German and a Hungarian company) which were owned by the same group. The Dutch company concluded contracts with both the German and the Hungarian companies for international transport of goods. For the performance of the transport services, the German and the Hungarian companies sent their employees (lorry drivers) to the Netherlands. The shift of the drivers started in the Netherlands and the journeys ended there, however, most of the transport operations took place outside the territory of the Netherlands. The question was whether the lorry drivers can be regarded as posted workers.
Under the Directive, the posted worker is a person who, for a limited period of time, carries out his work in the territory of an EU Member State other than the state in which he normally works. Despite the fact that posted workers are still employed by the sending company and subject to the law of that Member State, they are entitled to a set of core rights that are ensured for employees in the host Member State. The purpose of this regulation is to avoid “social dumping” where foreign service providers can undercut local service providers due to their lower labour standards.
The CJEU ruled that in order for a worker to be regarded as a worker posted ‘to the territory of a Member State’, the performance of his work must have a sufficient connection with that territory. In the specific case, the CJEU concluded that the lorry drivers were posted workers to the Netherlands, to whom the basic conditions of employment under the Dutch collective labour agreements should have been applied.