How To Make Sure You Choose A Compliant Labour Provider

Each site will have their own requirements when it comes to compliance checks for your own employees as well as those you may have on hire. It’s easy for contractors and labour agencies alike to ensure they do just enough to get bodies on site unaware of how impactful this can end up becoming to the employees, their own business, their client’s business even the business of the clients client!

In the Netherlands for example, and much of Europe in fact, there is something called Chain Liability. The Chain Liability regulation is a measure against the avoidance or mis-payment of payroll taxes and what it effectively does is hold everyone in the chain accountable. This means that if it is deemed by the government that the payroll model of your labour supplier is abusing the system in such a way,  everyone involved in the “chain” from the employee to end client can be held simultaneously culpable.

This is something we really want to educate our clients on as it may seem that some agencies are considerably “cheaper” than others but this is not without a reason and although they may be able to provide what is needed for access to site, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are in the clear.

Question 1: How do you payroll your employees?

This question is of incredible importance to ensure that you are not put at any unnecessary risk. Being aware of how workers are engaged is the first step to ensure that the labour provider is working compliantly. Are the workers on a payroll model or self-employed? If payroll, which country will the employee and employer be paying taxes in? If self employed, do they have an A1? The most compliant answer, which will protect both your company and your clients, is for the workers to be on an employment contract under the labour laws and regulations of the country the project is situated paying local tax and social security. That’s not to say there is not compliant ways for other methods but this is the most attractive answer and will be most favoured by the site and local government alike.

Question 2:  Ask for proof!

Payroll can be a complex conversation to have and it’s easy for one party to confuse the other with technical lingo but the proof is in the pudding. If the workers will be on a payroll model, ask for evidence of good payment behaviour for payroll taxes, insurance certificates, proof of any certification needed for the country such as SNA/NEN for the Netherlands, ask them what collective labour agreement they follow, check with them if they are members of any employer or trade unions as this is mandatory in some countries such as Denmark and Sweden. If they cannot provide the above, the likelihood is there is something amiss!

Question 3: Where will the labour be from?

Another important question to ask is where their labour is from. If they source from outside the EU, ask them about how they obtain the work permits and do your own research on the criteria for that country. For example, in Switzerland, you must often advertise for jobs locally first before applying for work permits for third-country nationals and combined with the fact that labour inspections on site are becoming more and more common, the last thing you want is to lose your entire workforce due to incorrect documentation as work permits are not a quick fix.

Question 4: What are the welfare conditions of your employees?

This may seem like a “nice to know” rather than a “need to know” but due to many of the data centre projects being located in non-residential areas, accommodation can come become very tricky to source. So much so that just last week there was a news article on a company who had 10 men sharing 1 room. Needless to say when news articles like this are published, so is the name of the end client so it’s vital to make yourself aware of how employees are housed and that employees are looked after both inside and outside of the workplace. Ask them if operatives will be sharing a room and if so, how many to one room? How will they travel to work? Do they have cooking and washing facilities?

Question 5: Does any of the labour come from a subcontractor or 3rd party supplier?

If their answer to this question is yes, then you will need to gain an understanding of the relationship. For example, if the subcontractor or 3rd party supplier is responsible for the payroll of the operatives then you will need a guarantee that the party you are working with has done all of the necessary compliance checks and request to see evidence of this. Chain Liability can come back into play here as even though you do not have a direct relationship with the 3rd party, you will still be considered as part of the chain and therefore may be liable if workers are not paid compliantly.

Question 6: What is your selection process?

Another good question to ask is how the agency select and vet their employees. Do they perform competency checks? How do they check that all of the workers documents are valid and legitimate? Labour agencies have a duty to ensure that the employees they submit to their clients are competent and fit for the task at hand. This is of paramount importance in the construction industry due to the high risk level for many trades.

Here at ESS, we pride ourselves on the high expectations we hold ourselves to with regards to quality and compliance. This is why we don’t always aspire to be the cheapest but we do aspire to be the best and most competitive, always considering the value of compliance and avoiding expensive non-compliant situations for both ourselves and our clients. The fines issued by labour inspectors can be astronomical which is why our clients are happy to have the peace of mind we can assure in the 10+ territories we work in across Europe.

What Does Brexit Mean for your UK workforce in the Netherlands?

After the deal surrounding Brexit becomes clearer, we touched base with our Dutch payroll partner to see what this would mean now for UK nationals working in the Netherlands.

Essentially, the ease of this process is going to based on one thing…whether you arrived before or after the 1stJanuary 2021. It’s important to note that if you arrived before Brexit, you must have been working continuously in order for the below to apply to you. It won’t apply if you did a 6 month stint last year that finished in October 2020 and you will be returning to work on a new contract in 2021.

Our guidance for arrivals before Brexit applies to both employed and self employed workers. However, the guidance for after is for employees. We will update this blog as we get more information on how the new deal will impact self employed workers who are new to the Netherlands.

Arrival before 01/01/2021

In the case that the employee arrived in 2020 or earlier, employees must register for a residence permit in the first half of 2021 (grace period) and backdate it to the date they originally arrived in the Netherlands.

All operatives that were working in the Netherlands last year would have received a letter from the “IND” prompting them to do this. The letter would have been sent to the Dutch address they registered themselves at with the local council (gemeente).

The process for obtaining a residence permit is usually something the employee would have to take care of personally. The employer cannot apply for personal residence permits on their employees behalf. More information and guidance on how to process an application for residency can be found in English here:

As the employee/s arrived in 2020 or earlier, they are eligible to continue work in the Netherlands in 2021 and onwards without any restrictions. It’s important that employees are proactive with renewing their residence permit before the expiry date noted on the card.

Should you not want to apply for residency, the Frontier Worker’s Document may also be an option for you. However, it is worth noting that as this is not a residency permit, UK nationals with this document can only stay in the Netherlands for a maximum of 90 days within an 180 day period.

Arrival after 01/01/2021

As a result of Brexit, UK citizens are no longer EU citizens and are now considered by the Netherlands as “third country nationals”. A third country national is defined as someone who does not have an EU, EEA or Swiss nationality.

If an employer would like to employ a UK citizen to work in the Netherlands as of now, employing them as Highly Skilled Migrant / European Blue card holder is the easiest and quickest route. However, there is a salary criteria which employees need to meet to qualify as a Highly Skilled Migrant which we have detailed below:

Under 30 years old: € 3,484 per month excl vacation pay
30 years old +: € 4,752 per month excl vacation pay
Blue card: € 5,567 per month excl vacation pay

Alongside the above criteria, the salary needs to be paid in line with the appropriate collective agreement (CAO). There is also an application fee for this kind of work permit which can cost around €3,400 per application.

If the above is not an option, the employer could also apply for a work permit (GVVA / TWV) from the Dutch Government. No income criteria applies for this type of permit; however, the process to get this permit is more complex and takes a lot more time to obtain:

Firstly, the employer has to try and source an employee for the position in the Netherlands / EU:

  1. Within your application for this permit, you must prove that you have searched in the Netherlands / EU for a suitable candidate for at least 3 months.
  2. You must provide evidence that your search was extensive. For example, you have posted the job on national job boards and with international labour offices. You must submit copies of advertisements / job posts, including details of where these have been published, when and for how long.
  3. Per EU candidate who applied for the job, you must inform the Dutch government as to why this person was not deemed suitable to fill the position.

After your company have performed their own EU wide search and successfully proved as much to the Dutch government, you must then post the vacant job position with the UWV (Dutch unemployment organisation) for 5 weeks before you apply for the work permit (TWV / GVVA) at the IND.

Once the 5 weeks is up, and on the assumption there has been no successful applications, you are allowed to hire a UK national for the role. The new UK employee will have to to apply for a residence permit. Finally, as their employer, you must prove the salary package and any compensation paid to your UK employee is equal to the compensation paid to other employees.

Brexit has already had a detrimental impact on projects across Europe due to the full details of the deal only being made public so late into December. As companies scramble now to get work permits and visa’s arranged, which can be a very time consuming and costly task, we wanted to reassure our clients that we are here for any temporary labour requirements you may have whilst you focus on getting your workforce back to site.

We are also keeping a close eye on developments and discussing innovative ways on how we can support clients during these times of uncertainty so we should encourage everyone to watch this space and follow our blogs as we come up with more information and services as the Brexit deal unravels.

Please contact our Project Manager, Shannon Earl, to hear more:

Images: Shutterstock

Some Positives From 2020

What a year! With COVID pretty much taking the limelight from everyone and everything else going on, we thought it was important to highlight some GOOD things that happened in 2020…yes, there were one or two…

After Joe Wicks nearly killed us all at the beginning of the pandemic with his home workout videos, we all faced our fate and resumed to eating what we wanted, when we wanted. The only thing off the menu though was fast food as the lockdown saw all of our favourite restaurants close. The restaurants, however, took pity on us and our heightened cravings. From McDonalds McMuffins to Ikea’s meatballs, the big dogs had us covered and released some of their secret recipes so that we were able to make the real thing at home.

We all rediscovered our love for sitting together at home and binge watching Netflix series and what series connected us better in 2020 than Tiger King? I think it’s safe to say it had everyone hooked from the off. The story got more and more unbelievable as the series went on and left everyone asking “what on earth did I just watch?!”. Conversations started to not solely be about the virus which was a welcome break for us all. It was also ironic timing because by this stage of the COVID-19 lockdown, we had all started to cut our own hair and let’s just say for some, it looked as though they had taken inspiration from Joe Exotic and his now infamous mullet.

Just a week into the lockdown, India experienced a 20 year low in pollution levels. We were met with images from across the world showing the visible changes to the environment and the UN Environment Programme have claimed 2020 to be a super year for nature and biodiversity. We’ve seen dolphins frolicking in places we never normally would and turtles thriving on the beaches.

Another great thing to come out of 2020 was the emphasis on the importance of mental health and wellbeing. It was no longer a taboo to talk about your feelings and companies worldwide really stepped up their game when it came to their approach to the subject.

Something like a pandemic will bring out the best and worst in people. We had the people who, for some reason, thought their milk, pasta and flour consumption would quadruple during lockdown and cleared out the supermarkets but we also had some absolute heroes emerge from the darkness. 99 year old war veteran Tom Moore raised more than £14 million for the NHS after walking 100 laps of his garden, absolutely smashing his £1000 target within days. And the healthcare workers, where do we even start? They will really be the heroes of this crazy year along with the other frontline workers working tirelessly every day to keep us safe, healthy and fed…To you, we say a huge THANK YOU!

Now, the next one is controversial. 2020 meant a lot of us ended up creating makeshift offices at home. I for one had always been jealous of people prior to 2020 that worked from home…well, not anymore. I completely lost any sense of routine, I was eating a diet which very much centred around convenience rather than health (or even taste for that matter), and I deemed it a good day if I had brushed my teeth. However, I have added it to this list because for some, it was a game changer. Many have found they are more productive when working from home with fewer interruptions and it’s helped them create a better work/life balance. Some companies have even cancelled the lease on their offices to adapt to a fully remote work life. As I said, it’s a controversial one as mine and many others personal experience of working from home was the complete opposite and I would rather work in the office kitchen than at home again.

So as we approach the end of 2020, a year we will certainly be happy to see the back of, we wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday. 2020 has hit a lot of companies hard, except maybe the toilet roll manufacturers since it appears bog roll became the new “must have” commodity of the year. 2021 can’t come quick enough and here’s hoping that this time next year we are posting a blog about how the world got back on its feet and how our feet got back in the bars!

Images: Shutterstock

Not Just Your Average Agency

If there is one thing we all know about the fast paced construction of hyperscale data centres, it’s that things can change in an instant. A new area of work has opened up, safety requirements have changed, the program gets condensed but completion dates remain the same… the list of potential challenges a contractor may have to overcome are endless.

From the outside, people may think of Euro Site Services as “just another recruitment agency” which could not be further from the truth. With over 40 years of experience behind us and having established ourselves across Europe, we help our clients in more ways than you would think!

It’s Thursday, work is progressing well, you’re on target for your benchmark, the number of operatives you have out on site is sufficient. Then Friday comes around, you are awarded a new area of work with a tight deadline and need more operatives urgently. We get it!! ESS can mobilise teams, no matter the size, with just a few days notice so you can let us know on Friday and expect the team there suited and booted on Monday morning. Quick right? Don’t be fooled, ESS have a thorough recruitment and screening procedure which involves competency trade tests (both theory and practical) which we can tailor to your specific needs. The same can be said for when the time comes for the demob as we understand this can also change just as rapidly. Our local site support team is always on hand to assist you with this. We can take care of notifying the operatives and letting them know what they need to do before they leave the project.

When starting a project in a new territory, I think it’s safe to say that learning the payroll set up and associated laws and regulations is not only mind-numbingly boring but also not something you want to be spending your time on. ESS has established branches with the help of local tax experts and formed partnerships with ultra-compliant payroll companies across Europe ensuring that all labour is compliant according to local legislation and site requirements. We don’t just limit this assurance to our own labour however, we can also process your own employees on our payroll guaranteeing they will be fully compliant on site and with the tax authorities. Last year on a hyperscale data centre in the Netherlands, we would all too often see contractors arriving to site, ready to start but being turned away because their company didn’t have the relevant tax documents etc. The Compliance Manager for the main contractor on site would then refer them on to us and we would have them on site within the hour. We indemnify all our clients against chain liability with regards to payroll and compliance and offer comprehensive insurances to all employees.

With large deployments, ESS will provide a Project Coordinator, Project Administrator and logistical support team on site, full time, at our cost. We know from previous experience that organised; close support is an essential service that contributes a great deal to the success of a project. Not only will all new starters be personally introduced to you on site, we will also take care of all the associated administration such as booking inductions, timesheets, reporting, rotation planning etc taking the burden away from you and your team. It also means you will have a dedicated point of contact on site for any queries whether that be to do with labour, invoicing, compliance etc. Essentially, we want to make your life as easy as possible for the duration of the project so if there’s anything else we can assist you with whether that be with regards to labour or administration, our team will be all too happy to help.

ESS has a long history of mobilising labour on hyperscale data centre projects across Europe and we have a very experienced Logistics team with an established network of landlords, accommodation agencies and property managers with valuable knowledge of the local property market around current and upcoming projects. At the start of any project, our team will visit the local area to make new contacts and establish what vicinities are most practical for staff (distance from site, transport links, local amenities etc). On previous data centre projects, we have been tasked with devising and delivering accommodation and welfare strategies for main contractors so we fully understand the unique challenges faced with regards to accommodation…we’re just really awesome at overcoming them.

ESS is extremely conscious of our responsibility to help provide and maintain healthy and safe working conditions. We have an excellent safety record and a goal of zero incidents. We promote a safety culture and follow a documented HSE management system. We ensure all the operatives we deploy have the necessary safety certificates and qualifications needed for site and for the work they will be performing. We have built up a great network of training companies for every safety course under the sun and often assist clients with arranging individual or group courses for their own operatives.

For many territories across Europe, we also help our clients with arranging PPE (both plain and company branded), tools and site machinery. If you need something urgently and you’re not overly familiar with the area yet, just reach out to us! We have numerous suppliers across Europe with local branches and we’re all too happy to share them with our clients.

ESS have an extensive supply chain of recruitment partners and sub suppliers across Europe, if a client were to choose ESS as a Master Vendor we could provide a single point of contact for alternative EU labour, managing all recruitment activity from ourselves and all other EU suppliers within our PSL. ESS continuously evaluates the performance of the PSL and sub supplier’s ability to meet agreed KPI’s in quality and compliance. Benefits of this are extensive, it means you will have one set of competitive tariffs for all your staffing and manpower. You will have one point of contact to manage all hired in temporary labour from multiple EU suppliers as well as a consolidated invoice for the labour. Essentially, we will take care of the process, removing the uncertainty sometimes associated with hiring in labour and enabling you to focus on your core business of delivering the project safely, on time and in budget.

We’d love to hear your feedback and whether you have any ideas on how we can further expand the services we offer to our clients. If you would like to hear some more about any of the services we provide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Project Manager, Shannon Earl