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Europe – European Council adopts new directive for more predictable and transparent work

18 June 2019

The Council of the European Union has adopted a regulation establishing a European Labour Authority with the aim of making working conditions across the EU more transparent and predictable.

The new law introduces new minimum rights, as well as new rules on the information to be provided to workers about their working conditions.

The law is set to grant more protection for workers in casual or short-term employment such as gig economy and agency workers.

On April 2019, the  European Parliament voted in favour of the directive. Following the adoption by the Council, the text of the directive will be published in the Official Journal of the EU.

The directive will become effective on the 20th day following the publication. Member states will then have three years to take the necessary legislative measures to comply with the directive.

“This directive responds to the emergence of new forms of work,” Marius-Constantin Budăi, Minister of Labour and Social Justice of Romania, said. “It introduces minimum rights for workers, and so provides increased security and predictability in the relationships between workers and employers, while preserving labour market adaptability.”

The directive applies to those working more than 3 hours per week over four weeks (i.e. over 12 hours per month). Certain groups of workers such as civil servants, emergency services and armed forces may be excluded from some of the provisions.

The Council also states that the directive requires employers to inform workers, as from their first working day and no later than the seventh calendar day, of the essential aspects of the employment relationship, such as the place and nature of work as well as the identities of the parties in the work relationship, initial pay and amount of paid leave, duration of the standard working day or week when the work pattern is predictable, and the identity of the social security institution receiving social security contributions, where this is the responsibility of the employer.

When the work pattern is entirely or largely unpredictable, employers will also have to inform workers of the reference hours and days within which they may be required to work, the minimum period of advance notice the workers shall receive before the start of work, and the number of guaranteed paid hours.

The directive sets a number of further minimum rights for workers, including the rights:

  • to take up a job in parallel with another employer
  • to limit the probationary period to a maximum of 6 months, with longer periods allowed only in cases where this is in the interest of the worker or is justified by the nature of the work
  • to request, after at least six months service with the same employer, employment with more predictable and secure working conditions
  • to receive training cost-free, when such training is required by Union or national legislation.

Member states are free to adopt or apply legislation which is more favourable to workers.

The UK will only be obliged to implement the law if it is still a member state of the EU three years after the new directive enters into force. However, the UK has already introduced similar workplace legislation that are due to take effect from April 2020.

Osborne Clarke, the UK-based international legal practice, stated, “The political landscape in the UK remains unclear. However, staffing companies should start preparing now for the implementation of the directive’s requirements, particularly against the backdrop of the UK proposals arising from the government’s response to the Taylor Review. The EU proposals reflect the general trends we are already seeing, which all involved in the use of contingent workers in the UK and across Europe must plan for.”

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