An interview with Stefan Schwarz, President of the Labour Mobility Initiative, the main organiser of the Congress.
The European Labour Mobility Congress (ELMC) is currently the largest event in Europe dedicated to the export of services and posting of workers. Where did the idea come from?
Stefan Schwarz: The idea was born last year. The purpose was to draw the attention of politicians, the media, and entrepreneurs to the threat posed by the then draft of the implementation directive to 15 thousand companies that post workers. We also set the objective of organising an event, the participants of which would have actual and full access to solid knowledge on posting of workers, available directly from the persons responsible for creating and enforcing legal regulations. We have decided to effectively end the monopoly of commercial advisors that provide posting companies with controversial third hand knowledge.
Last year’s All-Poland ‘Social Security Systems Coordination’ Conference turned out to be a huge success. Over 100 posting companies – leaders on the cross-border services market – took part in the workshops. Smaller companies learned how to safely and legally post workers without the fear for the future of their enterprises and inspections by the Social Insurance Institution.
How is this year’s Congress different from last year’s conference?
SS: This year, the invitation to the Congress was accepted by major European experts. During the plenary session, a presentation will be delivered by Kristin Schreiber from the European Commission, manager of Commissioner Barrier’s Cabinet until recently and the person currently responsible for the IMI system, which will soon become an important tool in posting of workers thanks to the implementation directive.
The plenary session will also be attended by Dr Mijke Houwerzijl and Sjoerd Feenstra. Dr Houwerzijl is the principal investigator and the coordinator of the key research projects of the European Commission with respect to the legal aspects of posting of workers. Sjoerd Feenstra is the European Commission’s main negotiator of the implementation directive.
Who is the Congress for?
SS: The Congress is intended for persons interested in the subject of posting of workers as part of providing services. The representatives of companies that attend the Congress will have direct access to full and practical know how on the upcoming changes and the effect the implementation directive will have in the next few years over the operations of the companies that post workers. We expect about 150 posting companies and 50 representatives of the academia and public administration to take part in the Congress.
Those who will not be there will unfortunately have to continue to rely on contradictory information disseminated by commercial advisors, including the immense risks in this respect.
The implementation directive is the hottest topic of the recent months in the sector of posting of workers. Will this year’s Congress provide the answers to the questions bothering the entrepreneurs that post workers?
SS: Yes, this year we will talk a lot about the implementation directive. One of the important issues related to the directive will be one-time posting and the wide use of the IMI system that will enable controlling institutions to obtain full access to the information regarding the posting companies and the posted workers. The system will also allow for the quick enforcement of penalties and fines. The annex to the directive preventing one-time posting is an effect of many months of efforts by the Labour Mobility Initiative, crowned with an effective intervention by Minister Mleczko and the representation of Commissioner Andor during the meeting of the Council on 19 December 2013. The question is: how will the Social Insurance Institution interpret this representation?
What will Congress participants get?
SS: First of all, peace of mind as regards the future of their companies – thanks to tools such as solid knowledge that will allow them to legally and safely post workers without fear or uncertainty. The workshops that will take place on the second day of the Congress will be particularly useful in this respect. They will be dedicated to the principle of certifying A1 forms. The workshops will be run by Anna Siwiecka, Head of the Department of Insurance of Migrating Persons at the Head Office of the Social Insurance Institution.
Will it be possible to ask questions during the Congress?
SS: During the preparations for the Congress, we had a number of meetings and discussions with entrepreneurs. We have learned what the biggest fears related to the new implementation directive and the contradictory information with respect to it are. In an effort to meet the needs of Congress participants, we have launched an anonymous electronic form that can be used to submit doubts in the form of questions to the speakers. The form is available at www.koordynacja.org/2014/en/questions
Which of the items on the Congress agenda would you recommend most?
SS: It is worth having a look at the papers sessions that will take place on the second day of the event, at the same time as the Social Insurance Institution workshops I mentioned before. The topics will include guarantees for posted workers in terms of health benefits or the determination of the contribution basis for posted workers. The paper on the good management practices in Polish companies offering cross-border services in terms of care about the elderly may be very interesting.
How can one register to take part in the Congress?
SS: You can register for the 2nd ELMC via www.koordynacja.org/2014.en. The number of free places for commercial participants is decreasing every day, so I would recommend quick registration. The registration deadline is 2 April (Wednesday). If you have any questions, we will be happy to answer them via e-mail or over the phone (+48 12 306 70 71, +48 12 306 70 72).