Posting of Workers Directive

URN No: 05/1673


Measures to Implement the Directive in Great Britain 

The Posting of Workers Directive (Directive 96/71/EC) broadly requires that where a Member State has certain minimum terms and conditions of employment, these must also apply to workers posted temporarily by their employer to work in that state. The Directive does not prevent workers benefiting from minimum terms and conditions, which are more favourable and are applied in the state from which they are posted.

The Directive also establishes the principle that undertakings from non-member countries must not be given more favourable treatment than similar undertakings in Member States (i.e. that workers from such undertakings must benefit from the same minimum terms and conditions of employment to those applicable to workers posted from undertakings in Member States).

What is a posted worker?

Broadly a posted worker is one who, for a limited period, carries out his work in the territory of a European Community Member State other than the State in which he normally works. The Directive applies to undertakings which:

  • post workers to another Member State under a contract between them and a party in the other State for whom the services are intended;
  • make intra-company postings;
  • are employment businesses who post workers and maintain an employment relationship during the posting.

What terms and conditions of employment are covered by the Directive?

These are:

  • maximum work periods and minimum rest periods;
  • minimum paid annual holidays;
  • minimum rates of pay, including overtime rates;
  • conditions of hiring out workers, in particular the supply of workers by temporary employment undertakings;
  • health, safety and hygiene at work;
  • protective measures in the terms and conditions of employment of pregnant women or those who have recently given birth, of children and of young people;
  • equal treatment between men and women and other provisions on non-discrimination.

Main provisions of the Directive

Where states have in place laws or mandatory collective agreements on terms and conditions of employment covered by the Directive, they must ensure that these apply to workers temporarily posted to their territory. Member States may also apply certain other collective agreements to posted workers and have the option not to apply some terms and conditions to certain groups of workers. In Britain there are no legislative provisions to apply the terms of mandatory or other collective agreements, nor has the Government taken up the options not to apply specified minimum conditions to certain categories of posted workers.


In Britain, principal legislation relevant to the Directive is:

  • the Working Time Regulations 1998
  • the National Minimum Wage Act and Regulations 1998
  • the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • the Race Relations Act 1976
  • the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000
  • the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002
  • the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • health and safety legislation
  • legislation on the employment of children

The primary health and safety legislation is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Other cornerstone health and safety legislation, which also contains special provisions for young people, is the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. There are also particular protections related to age in specific health and safety legislation. The Employment of Women,Young Persons and Children Act 1920 prohibits the employment of children of compulsory school leaving age in any industrial undertaking except in certain circumstances on approved work experience programmes. The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (as amended) regulates the part-time employment of children generally and the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 covers work by children within the entertainment industry.

Although most existing legislation already applied to all employees or workers whether working here permanently or temporarily, and thus applied to posted workers, minor changes to legislation have been made to implement the Directive. First, provisions in the Employment Relations Act 1999 have removed territorial limits from provisions in the Employment Rights Act 1996, so that the rights affected apply to all employees in Britain, including those temporarily posted here. These include protective measures for pregnant women and those who have just given birth. Second, legislation to counter discrimination on the grounds of sex, race and disability was amended so that those employed mainly outside Britain are no longer excluded from its scope. These changes were made by the Equal Opportunities (Employment Legislation) (Territorial Limits) Regulations 1999. Previously, anti-discrimination provisions did not apply where employment was wholly or mainly outside Great Britain. The changes will not affect employees of British employers working in Britain. However, British employers posting workers to other European Union States may be affected and may also have to comply with measures to implement the Directive taken by other states.

To Obtain Further Information

For information about the Directive you can contact the DTI on 020 7215 5000. For more details on the specific items of legislation involved you can contact the relevant government body direct. Details are listed below.

A guide to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) legislation is available from:

NMW Enquiries
Freepost PHQ1
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE98 1ZH

Telephone enquiries 0845 6000 678.

Or visit the DTI website.

A guide to the Working Time Regulations is also available from the DTI website.

Health and Safety publications (priced and free) are available by mail order from:

HSE Books
PO Box 1999
Suffolk CO10 2WA
Or by telephoning 01787 881165 Fax 01787 313995

For further Health and Safety enquiries, telephone the HSE Infoline on 0845 345 0055 or write to:

HSE Information Services
Caerphilly Business Park
CF83 3GG

Email or fax 0845 408 9566. Alternatively visit the HSE website.

For information on the Employment Equality Regulations 2003 see the DTI website or see the practical workplace guidance on the Acas website. You can also call the Acas helpline on 08457 47 47 47.

For information on maternity leave and parental leave and on employment rights generally, contact the Acas helpline or see the Guidance on this website.

For information on the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and Children and Young Persons Act 1963, contact the Department for Education and Skills, Public Enquiry Office on 0870 000 2288. For information on child employment in your area, contact your local authority Education Welfare Service.

For guidance on the Sex Discrimination Act, employees should contact the Equal Opportunities Commission on 0845 601 5901. Or write to:

Overseas House
Quay Street
Manchester M3 3HN

Employers should contact Equality Direct on 0845 600 3444.

For guidance on The Race Relations Act, telephone the Commission for Racial Equality on 020 7939 0000. Its address is: 

St Dunstan's House
201 - 211 Borough High Street
London SE1 1GZ

Information, leaflets and booklets on the Disability Discrimination Act can be obtained by contacting the Disability Rights Commission helpline:

Tel: 0845 7622633
Textphone: 0845 762264
Fax 0845 7622611.

Or visit the Disability Rights Commission website.

Or visit the Department for Work and Pensions disability website.

To view the Posting of Workers Directive, visit the European Union website.