KOK News

Joint statement on the revision of the Single Permit Directive

Break the chain of dependency and promote equal treatment of migrant workers

Joint statement on the revision of the Single Permit Directive:

18 European networks and organisations, representing trade unions and NGOs, call on EU lawmakers not to trap migrant workers in exploitation, by ensuring a meaningful right to change employer, and to ensure full equal treatment, particularly in private rented housing.

The Spanish Presidency of the Council and European Parliament are working to reach a compromise on the revision of the EU Single Permit Directive, which creates a simplified application procedure for both work and residence permits and aims to promote equal and fair treatment of migrant workers. Among the remaining points of contention are the biggest game changers, changes that would actually make an important difference in the lives of millions of migrant workers and their families: the right to change employer and equal treatment.

EU lawmakers have a unique opportunity to make real improvements in the lives and working conditions of millions of workers. Without the below, the revision risks to actually be a regression, and worsen the conditions of migrant workers.

We call on the EU negotiators to revise the Single Permit Directive to establish:

A simple and swift procedure so that workers can realistically change employers, jobs and sectors,
within the country, on the same permit.

  • Member states should be able to decide on whether or not to require a notification procedure.The procedure must be free, and substantively easier (with fewer administrative steps and requirements) and quicker than a new application.
  • If opting for a notification procedure, authorities should communicate any opposition to the change of employer within 30 days and the worker should be given a new period to change employer.
  • Member states should be able to apply labour market checks only when there is a change of sector, when the job is not on the list of shortage occupations, and where member states already conduct labour market tests to access the single permit for the particular job in question.

No minimum requirement to stay with the first employer: The Council has proposed giving governments the possibility to tie workers to their first employer for 12 months. This is the opposite to a right to change employer and would serve to tighten the bondage of migrant workers, serving the interests only of exploitative employers.

A reasonable period of unemployment: Single permit holders should be allowed a period of at least nine months to seek alternative employment (in line with existing EU standards for students and researchers).

Extended status when workers’ rights are violated: In situations where migrant workers experience labour rights violations, the period of possible unemployment should be further extended to one year.

Equal treatment: Migrant workers should have equal treatment across all areas of employment and social security, and access to goods and services. In particular:

  • The right to strike must be protected and the right to back-payments, including in case of employer insolvency, must be included in the list of areas covered by equal treatment.
  • Decent standards for housing must be ensured. The proposal by the Council to allow governments to restrict access both to publicly subsidised housing and the private rental market represents a significant increase in housing discrimination, and risks making workers’ access to housing even more precarious and inadequate, as well as increasing risks of homelessness. Specific measures are needed to address housing-related exploitation by employers and landlords.
  • Exclusions from social protection and family benefits for those who are not in employment, who worked for less than six months and who are working on a visa must be removed.
Supported by
KOK is a member of


KOK - Bundesweiter Koordinierungskreis gegen Menschenhandel e.V.
Hof 1, Aufgang A
10785 Berlin

Tel.: 030 / 263 911 76
E-Mail: info@kok-buero.de

KOK auf bluesky