New residence and work permit in EU for migrants

A combined residence and work permit will be introduced in the European Union for seasonal workers and temporary staff from non-EU countries. This new law regulates the access of legal migrants from outside the EU to the European labor market, especially in agricultural and horticultural harvests.

The Single Permit directive was adopted on Wednesday with 465 votes, with 122 votes against. Extensive negotiations have taken place between SoZa ministers and the European Parliament.

The new law is a combined work and residence permit, which gives legal migrants from outside the EU a right of residence and access to the European workplace in one procedure. “This is truly a win-win law, with which we can provide migrants with a safe, legal access route to the EU and at the same time fill shortages in crucial sectors in our labor market,” says GroenLinks MEP Tineke Strik. 

During the negotiations, she managed to shorten the decision periods and ensure that hired personnel receive better legal protection. “Yet we must not forget that many of these working migrants are also vulnerable and can end up in terrible situations of exploitation,” Strik continues. 

This law gives migrant workers the right to change employers at any time. So far, their work permit is valid for one employer. If their job is completed early, they are currently not allowed to take on any other work for the remaining time within the residence permit. “With the amended law we are breaking the relationship of dependency with shady employers,” says Strik. 

PvdA MEP Agnes Jongerius has used the change in law to strengthen the legal position of temporary employees from non-EU countries. Before their work starts, it must be clear who the employer is, even if this is a temporary employment agency or if they work through a subcontractor. The salary and work schedule must also be clear. 

“Too often, migrant workers are brought here under false pretenses. Migrant workers from third countries must be explicitly given the same rights as employees from the EU,” says Jongerius. 

“The list of exceptions in the previous law was longer than the list of equal rights. We have been able to clarify and supplement this, for example with the right to collective bargaining. EU countries must also from now on monitor more whether equal rights are being respected, including through inspections.