Fixed Term Workers

An EU directive establishes minimum requirements relating to fixed-term work. The purpose is to ensure equal treatment of workers and prevent abuse arising from successive employment contracts. The directive covers fixed-term workers including seasonal workers. It does not cover workers placed at the disposal of an employer or user by a temporary employment agency.

States may exclude the directive rights in relation to vocational training relationships, apprenticeship schemes and employment contracts concluded within the framework of a public or publically supported training integration or vocational training scheme.

Employers must not discriminate against fixed-term workers. They must not treat them in a manner less favorable than permanent employees solely because they work as fixed-term employees unless the difference in treatment can be objectively justified. Member states after consultation with social partners must introduce one or more of the following measures.

  • objective reasons justifying non-renewal of contracts or relationships.
  • maximum total number of successive fixed-term employment contracts.
  • a permitted number of renewals.

Employers must facilitate access by fixed-term workers to training opportunities to enhance skills, career development, and occupational mobility. Fixed-term workers must be taken into account in calculating thresholds above which workers representative bodies may be constituted.

States must ensure the principles are reflected in their national law or through collective agreements.

There are provisions which are designed to prevent the regulation being overly burdensome on small to medium-sized enterprises. Special account may be taken of the needs of small to medium-sized businesses.

Part-Time Workers

An EU directive is designed to eliminate discrimination against part-time workers and improve the quality of part-time work.  Part-time workers may not be treated less favorably than comparable full-time workers solely because they are part-time workers unless the different treatment is justified on objective grounds. Member states may make access to particular conditions of employment subject to a period of service, time, work, or earnings qualifications.

Social partners or member states after consulting social partners should identify and review obstacles which may limit opportunities for part-time work.

A worker’s refusal to transfer from full time to part-time or vice versa should not in itself constitute a valid reason for dismissal.

When possible, an employer should give consideration to:

  • request by workers to transfer from full time to part time work that becomes available in the business.
  • request by workers to transfer from part-time to full-time work or to increase their working time should the opportunity arise.
  • provision of timely information on the availability of part-time and full-time employment in the establishment.
  • measures to facilitate access to part-time work at all levels in the enterprise.
  • provision of appropriate information to worker’s representatives about part-time

States may introduce more favorable provisions than provided in the directive.

Posted Workers

The posted worker’s directive applies to businesses which in the framework of the transnational provision of services, post workers to the territory of another state. There must be an employment relationship between the business making the posting and the worker during the period of posting on their account or under their direction, under a contract concluded between the business making the posting and the party for whom the services are intended.

A posted worker is a worker who for a limited period carries out his work in the territory of a member state other than the state where he normally works.  Member states must ensure that businesses guarantee posted workers mandatory protective legislation guaranteed in the state where the work is carried out. This may be provided by law, regulation, or administrative provision, by collective agreement or arbitration awards which have been declared universally applicable, insofar as they concern the activities set out in the directive.

The conditions of work and employment to be covered include

  • maximum work and minimum rest periods.
  • minimum paid holidays.
  • minimum rates of pay including overtime pay.
  • conditions of hiring out of workers, in particular supply of workers by temporary employment undertakings.
  • health, safety, and hygiene at work.
  • protective measures regarding terms and conditions of employment.
  • equality of treatment between men and women and other non-discrimination grounds.

States may derogate from immediate implementation of the rules about

  • minimum rates of pay in the case of work lasting for a maximum of one month, provided the work is not carried out by temporary employment undertakings;
  • minimum rates of pay and holiday in the case of an insignificant amount of work to be done provided that this is not carried out by temporary employment undertaking;
  • minimum rates of pay and holiday in the case of initial assembly and/or installation of goods provided the maximum duration does not exceed 8 days. This does not apply to the building industry.

Allowances specific to the posting are considered part of the minimum wage unless they are paid in reimbursement of expenditure actually incurred.

States must provide that businesses guarantee temporary posted workers the same terms and conditions which apply to temporary workers in the states where the work is carried out.

States must cooperate in the implementation of the legislation. They are responsible for monitoring terms and conditions of employment. Mutual assistance must be provided.

States must take measures to make the information on terms and conditions of employment generally available and ensure adequate procedures are available for the enforcement of obligations.

There must be guaranteed access to judicial proceedings in the territory where the worker is or was posted.

Temporary Agency Work

There is a directive on temporary agency work. It sets out a general framework for the working conditions of temporary workers within the EU. The aim of the legislation is to ensure that they have a minimum level of protection. It is designed to help develop the temporary work sector as a flexible option for employees and employers.

The general principle of equal treatment applies. The directive applies to relationships between workers and temporary agencies. It is aimed at public or private companies and organizations carrying out gainful or non-gainful activities. The directive may be excluded in respect of vocational training and integration retraining programs.

Temporary workers on assignment in businesses are subject to the same essential working and employment conditions as workers recruited directly by the business. The principle of equal treatment covers rules in force concerning non-discrimination in pay and working time, protection of pregnant women and nursing mothers.

States may authorize derogations in cases which are justified; in particular, circumstances respecting equal treatment and on the basis of agreements concluded with social partners at a national level.

In order to ensure the temporary worker is not disadvantaged in relation to permanent, better quality jobs, the undertaking must keep such workers informed of vacancies. States must take action to ensure

Temporary workers should not pay fees in exchange for arranging recruitment to a user or undertaking or for concluding an employment contract. They should have access to amenities and collective services such as canteens, child-care facility, and transport on the same conditions as workers employed directly.

Recommendation on Domestic Workers

The International Labour Office (ILO) Convention No 189 on decent work for domestic workers lays down minimum global standards to curb the abuse and exploitation of domestic workers and requires signatories to ensure these workers have fair and decent working conditions.

Council Decision 2014/51/EU of 28 January 2014 authorising Member States to ratify, in the interests of the European Union, the Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers, 2011, of the International Labour Organisation (Convention No 189).

The European Union agreed in early 2014 a decision authorising EU countries to ratify the ILO’s convention of 2011 concerning decent work for domestic workers (Convention No 189). This decision is needed because parts of the convention fall within the EU’s competence. The EU itself cannot ratify any ILO convention, because only states can be parties to them.

A domestic worker is defined as any person engaged in domestic work (work performed in or for a household or households) within an employment relationship.

Main provisions

The convention requires ratifying states to:

establish a minimum age for domestic work and safeguards for workers under age 18;
prevent abuse and violence;
ensure fair terms and decent conditions of employment;
make certain that workers are informed of the terms and details of their employment;
regulate foreign recruitment and ensure freedom of movement;
mandate equal treatment between domestic workers and other workers with regard to compensation and benefits, for example in the case of maternity; and
develop a specific complaints mechanism.
Similar approaches of the ILO and EU

EU law already addresses some aspects covered by the ILO convention. The provisions of the convention share the same approach as this legislation. On certain issues, EU law is more protective than the convention whereas the convention is more precise than EU law in the coverage of domestic workers by legislation and in other particular aspects of domestic work.

Part of this text, comprising updates, is derived from Summaries of EU Legislation published by the European  Commission and is published under the licence referred to in the Public Information tab.

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