Secure Mobility – Uncovering Gaps in the Social Protection of Posted Workers (SMUG)



SMUG will identify gaps and inconsistences between national social insurance and worker protection systems in terms of coverage, rule enforcement, and access, which increase the precarity of mobile workers. By definition, a posted work employment relationship is regulated in at least two European countries, possibly three. A major difficulty with regulating pan-European labour markets is that regulators
and worker protection systems are tied to national jurisdictions, and can only regulate a part of a posted workers’ employment relationship. Despite improvements in EU rule systems and transgovernmental cooperation, the overall effect of posting has been a haphazard deregulation, with firms exploiting regulatory gaps.

This research will be based on the narratives of posted workers. We will collect biographical interviews of posted workers to see how the interactions between national systems affect their welfare, and catalogue their economic coping strategies. We will focus on construction, because it where posting is best established.  

We will collect narratives from three categories of  posted, from:

1) countries normally considered “host” countries;

2) countries normally considered “sending” countries;

3) who have been re-posted via an EU country, from inside or outside the EU.

From the interviews, we will produce a series of (anonymized) stylized case studies, and discuss these in workshops and focus groups, from the perspective of (1) labour rights (2) social protection (3) occupational health and safety and (4) precarity, drawing on expertise from experts and stakeholders.

We disseminate policy relevant evidence to European stakeholders through an international workshop, a final project meeting, a report and policy briefs.

The recent shutdown provides a context to do this, because we can view the operation of social safety nets for posted workers.


  • PROJECT COORDINATOR: Vianello Francesca Alice
  • MAIN FUNDER: European Commission
  • EXTERNAL PROJECT COORDINATOR: Prof. Nathan Lillie, JYU (Finland)
  • PARTNERS: the University of Copenhagen; the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research; the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy Sciences and Arts; and the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University.
  • LEAD UNIVERSITY : JYU – University of Jyväskylä