Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 15/06/2021

A new study highlights challenges and working conditions of seasonal workers in the EU

According to a study published today by the European Commission about 650,000 to 850,000 EU citizens carry out seasonal work in another EU country. They face key challenges as access to social protection and adequate working conditions.

An employee picking strawberries in a greenhouse

The study on ‘Intra-EU Mobility of Seasonal Workers: Trends and Challenges’, focus on the importance of seasonal work in the context of free movement of workers. 

According to the study the contribution of these ‘intra-EU seasonal workers’ is especially important for sectors such as agriculture, accommodation and food services. 

This study is a commitment stemming from the Commission’s Guidelines on seasonal workers in the EU in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak to collect data on intra-EU seasonal work and identify the main challenges faced including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study also identifies key challenges faced by intra-EU seasonal workers, such as difficulties in accessing to information about their rights, insufficient social protection coverage, poor quality of accommodation provided by the employer or intermediary, low pay and challenging working conditions.

These challenges were aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concrete initiatives to protect seasonal workers

Member States, the social partners and the EU have taken several initiatives to better protect seasonal workers’ rights.

From the Commission side, this includes a dedicated hearing with the European Social Partners to jointly look into ways of better enforcing the existing legislation in the area and a seminar on tackling undeclared work among seasonal workers.

The Commission’s upcoming strategic framework on occupational safety and health will focus on addressing issues of health and safety at work more broadly.

To raise awareness of mobile seasonal workers and their employers of their rights and obligations, the European Labour Authority is furthermore launching today the communication campaign “Rights for all seasons”.

The study has been prepared for the Commission by Milieu Consulting and peer-reviewed by KU Leuven.

Share this page