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Construction Workers (Continental Employment)

Volume 928: debated on Friday 25 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he proposes to take to assist construction workers who take up jobs in the Netherlands and Germany offered by advertisement in the United Kingdom and are frequently left penniless and in distress in those countries, so that they become a charge to public funds; what proposals he has to deal with advertisements of this character; and if he will make a statement.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 22nd March 1977; Vol. 928, c. 454], gave the following information:The Employment Agencies Act 1973 provides for the licensing and control of private employment agencies and employment businesses (staff contractors) in Great Britain by the Secretary of State for Employment. Regulations made under the Act require an employment agency or business to identify itself clearly in any advertisement. It must not supply a worker to an employer abroad without first obtaining a written statement from a reliable source that the proposed employment will not be detrimental to the worker's interest. If the employer abroad is an employment business, the British agent must ensure that the employment business is not prohibited by the law of the country concerned from acting in that capacity.In general, every worker supplied by an employment agency or employment business for employment abroad must, before departure, be given full details in writing of specified terms and conditions of the employment in a language he understands. A staff contractor who supplies workers to an employer abroad must make arrangements for payment for the workers' return fare.Failure to comply with the regulations is an offence and any complaints made to my Department will be fully investigated.Article 2 of EEC Regulation 1612/68 provides that any national of a member State of the European Community and any employed pursuing an activity in the territory of a member State may exchange their applications for and offers of employment. They may conclude and perform contracts of employment in accordance with the provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action without any discrimination resulting therefrom. In pursuance of these provisions employers from other countries of the Community may advertise in the United Kingdom Press and are subject only to those restrictions when advertising which apply generally to British employers.I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that when European employers notify their vacancies directly to the Employment Service Agency (ESA) arrangements have been made to check their bona fides with the employ- ment services of the country of origin before any action is taken to submit applicants to these vacancies.The Employment Service Agency is prepared, on behalf of workers contemplating replying directly to Press advertisements, to approach the employment services of the countries concerned for information about the employers advertising. Whether and to what extent such information can be provided must depend on the knowledge and practices of those employment services.ESA has also produced two leaflets on "Working in Europe" and" Working in the Federal Republic of Germany" which are freely available to all workers using the Agency's service and otherwise on request to people seeking to take up employment in other member states. More general information on living and working conditions in other countries of the Community is also available on request.I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services that a British worker who becomes unemployed in one of the member States of the EEC may benefit from the EEC social security regulations which make provision for a worker moving within the Community to carry with him rights to unemployment benefit acquired in another member State. In addition all the EEC countries, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Malta have ratified the European Convention on Social and Medical Assistance under which a national of the United Kingdom in any of those countries is entitled to social assistance on the same basis as a local resident.