Staffing agencies look further afield for cheap workers, via agency loophole

The logistics sector uses a lot of cheap labour. Photo:
The logistics sector uses a lot of cheap labour. Photo:

Staffing agencies which focus on bringing seasonal and temporary workers from eastern Europe to the Netherlands are turning to Poland as a way of legally employing workers from outside the EU and cut costs even further, according to a new report by ABN Amro economists.

The Polish economy is flourishing, and this means it is less attractive for Polish nationals to work in the Netherlands. Now, the report said, staffing agencies are looking to Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia and Uzbekistan as sources of cheaper labour, because their nationals can work in the Netherlands via Polish agencies using a loophole known as the A1 route.

Although coronavirus has reduced the need for cheap, low-skilled foreign labour, the construction, farm, logistics and manufacturing sectors still look abroad to keep costs down, the ABN Amro report said.

‘Staffing agencies specialised in bringing in eastern European workers are looking forward, to the increase in demand for temporary staff as the economy recovers,’ the report said. ‘The A1 route is one of the options.’

Agencies workers brought in by the A1 route are paid according to Polish rates with Polish social security contributions, making them some €3 an hour cheaper, the Financieele Dagblad reported.

The Dutch staffing company association ABU, which covers 65% of the market, is against the use of the A1 route, saying it leads to unfair competition. However, sector organisation NBBU, which represents 1,300 companies, says it is not opposed to the measure, provided the rules are ‘properly enforced’.

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