The Parliament adopted the Roemer Commission Report in February. Tangible policies are needed to improve the working and living conditions of international employees. In the meantime, it has become clear that the situation is beginning to deteriorate, especially in the area of accommodation. According to various calculations, there is no decent housing in our country for about 150,000 international employees. Unscrupulous property owners are taking advantage of this fact by buying up ordinary houses, “redecorating” them and then renting them out for exorbitant prices. Around 45,000 houses in our country are thus taken out of the normal housing market and remain out of reach for first-time home buyers, for example
The Roemer Commission calls for decent housing with space for everyone and for the separation of employment contracts from tenancy agreements. In particular, it appealed to urban authorities to note the housing shortage among international employees. Whenever a large company wants to set up a distribution centre in a municipality, it is immediately welcomed with coffee and cake by the local authority, Emile Roemer scornfully observes. However, if a housing organisation wants to provide good accommodation for the employees of a distribution centre, it can discuss this with a government official within three weeks.
The three recommendations of the Roemer Commission Report are as follows:
- Make certification of temporary work agencies compulsory and impose a fine on employers who work with uncertified temporary work agencies.
(It must also be possible to prohibit rogue managers from setting up another temporary employment agency each time).
- The registration of economic migrants should be improved so that it is known where international employees live. To this end, the Personal Records Database and the Non-residents Record Database should be amended. Supervision is the responsibility of the National Office for Identity Data, Tax Authorities and the Employee Insurance Agency - UWV).
- Housing conditions for international employees need to be improved. (To avoid dependence on the employer, it is important to separate the employment contract from the rental contract. In addition, municipalities and provinces must be given more instruments to guarantee the quality of housing.)
Certainly, it is easy for businesses to point to The Hague and say that the policy will take time to implement, or to say that many municipalities are not assuming their responsibility – but what about our own responsibility as employers? What can we do to put pressure on municipalities not only to provide jobs, but also to speed up the accommodation of international employees? And what can we do ourselves to ensure that the accommodation of labour migrants who work for us is “in the spirit of Roemer”, for example by separating it from their employment contract?What can we do to put pressure on municipalities not only in terms of providing jobs, but also in speeding up the process of accommodating international employees?
The Roemer Commission has shown us that much needs to be done to improve the situation of economic migrants. This appeal is not only to the government but also to our sector: we also need to take responsibility; in terms of work, our core business, and also when it comes to accommodation. Don't turn a blind eye to reality – go and see for yourself how people live, asking yourself one simple question: how would you like to be treated if you worked in another country?