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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 20.08.2018, 06:05

Improving working conditions in European states: new draft for a Directive

Eugene Eteris, RSU/BC, Riga, 27.12.2017.Print version
The “world of work” is changing fast with a growing number of non-standard jobs and contracts. After extensive public consultation in the member states, the draft Directive forces social partners to implement new minimum working conditions’ requirements through collective agreements. The Baltic States shall be aware of new requirements as the draft fully respects national social dialogue practices.

Commission Vice-President responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, Valdis Dombrovskis underlined the draft answers the requirements for more transparent and predictable working conditions in the EU states. The draft is based on the compromise to create more secure employment in modern types of working arrangements, allowing for flexibility and ensuring a level playing field. He stressed that the new proposal fully respects national social dialogue practices, by allowing social partners to implement the new minimum requirements relating to working conditions through collective agreements.

 

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen added that the “world of work” is changing fast with a growing number of non-standard jobs and contracts. This means that more and more people are at risk of not being covered by basic rights: starting from specifying the terms of working conditions to increased transparency and predictability, which will benefit both workers and businesses. 


Short history

The Commission’s draft for a Directive on “Predictable and Transparent Working Conditions” will update and replace the so-called “written statement Directive, 91/533/EEC”, adopted in 1991 (still in force), which gives employees starting a new job the right to be notified in writing of the essential aspects of their employment relationship.

 

Commission is aware that after more than 25 years, this Directive does not no longer answer changing labour market realities, in particular concerning the new forms of work that have developed in recent years. Increased labour market flexibility and a growing diversity of forms of work have created new jobs and allowed more people to become professionally active.

The draft also exposed some gaps in the protection of workers and, in some cases involving vulnerable workers, contributed to new forms of precariousness.

 

The Commission’s initiative was announced in April 2017 together with the European Pillar of Social Rights, being part of the 2018 Commission Work Programme and following two-stage consultation of social partners. However, the EU states’ social partners did not enter into negotiations to propose their own agreement; therefore, the Commission decided to take action and made a present draft.

 

The initiative also responds to two resolutions of the European Parliament: on a European Pillar of the Social Rights, requesting a framework Directive on decent working conditions in all forms of employment (from January 2017); and on working conditions and precarious employment, calling for a revision of the 1991 Directive to take account of new forms of employment (from July 2017).

 

The European Council in December 2017 called upon the EU three legislative institutions to progress swiftly on pending social files at EU level referring also to the initiatives announced by the Commission in its Work Programme, which includes this Directive.


Timely Directive

As part of the follow-up to the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a new Directive for more transparent and predictable working conditions across the EU.

 

The draft is on: file:///C:/Users/Eugene/Downloads/COM-2017-797_Transparent-predictable-working-conditions_EN.pdf

 

For example, the draft Directive postulates that the EU states shall adopt necessary laws and provisions to comply with the Directive (within 2 years) and shall ensure that both the social partners introduce the required provisions and the states being obliged to take the necessary steps to guarantee the implementation of the Directive (Draft, art. 20).

 

The Commission's proposal complements and modernises existing obligations to inform each worker of his or her working conditions. In addition, the proposal creates new minimum standards to ensure that all workers, including those on atypical contracts, benefit from more predictability and clarity as regards their working conditions.

 

The Commission estimates that about 2-3 million additional workers on atypical contracts will be covered and protected by the new proposal. At the same time, the draft also puts measures in place to avoid administrative burden on employers, for instance by giving them the possibility to provide the requested information electronically. The new rules will also create a level-playing field for companies, so that employers will benefit from fairer competition in the internal market, with fewer loopholes. More transparent and predictable working conditions are also important for a more motivated and productive workforce.

 

There are some concrete measures to reduce risks and increase workers protection:

 

·         Aligning the notion of “worker” to the case-law of the European Court of Justice. Under current rules, the definitions may vary and certain categories of workers end up being excluded. By using the definition of worker from the case-law of the Court, this Directive would ensure that the same broad categories of workers will be covered.

·         Bringing within the scope of the Directive forms of employment that are now often excluded. This includes domestic workers, marginal part-time workers or workers on very short contracts, and extending it to new forms of employment, such as on-demand workers, voucher-based workers and platform workers.

·         Ensuring that workers are provided with an updated and extended information package directly at the start of employment from day one, instead of two months following the starting date as is currently the case.

·         Creating new minimum rights, such as the right to greater predictability of work for those working mostly with a variable schedule, the possibility to request transition to a more stable form of employment and receive a reply in writing, or the right to mandatory training without deduction from salary.

·         Reinforcing the means of enforcement and redress as a last resort to resolve possible disagreements, if a dialogue was not enough.

 

More specifically, the Directive contributes to implementing Principle 5 on 'Secure and Adaptable Employment' and Principle 7 on 'Information about Employment Conditions and Protection in case of Dismissals'.

 

The draft is among the Commission’s actions to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), which was proclaimed at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg on 17 November 2017.

 

On EPSR see: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/deeper-and-fairer-economic-and-monetary-union/european-pillar-social-rights_en


The European Pillar of Social Rights is about delivering new and more effective rights for citizens. It has 3 main categories: -Equal opportunities and access to the labour market: - Fair working conditions; - Social protection and inclusion. 


Implementation and next steps

In accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, the draft has to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union; afterwards, the Directive will be transposed into the states’ legislation and will be implemented through social partners’ collective agreements.

 

Fully recognising the importance of social dialogue, social partners would be able to modulate the minimum rights proposed by the Directive as long as its overall level of protection is respected.

 

More information: = MEMO: Commission's proposal to increase transparency and predictability of working conditions - Questions and Answers (in http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-17-5284_en.htm); and = News item with links to legal documents on the DG Employment website.


Source: Commission press release: “Commission proposes to improve transparency and predictability of working conditions”, in: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-5285_en.htm; Latvian version at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-5285_lv.htm  

 






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