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Global employment briefing: European Union, January 2018

  • Europe
  • Employment law


Holiday pay for workers: European Court decision

The EU Court of Justice recently decided that workers who have been denied paid holiday in the belief that they were self-employed independent contractors can accumulate pay in lieu of holiday from when they start work and can carry it forward for years until their employment is terminated. Employers at risk, such as those using contractors and similar arms-length workforces whose status may have been misclassified and are, in fact, entitled to paid holiday under EU and national laws, should factor this new potential liability in to their business models. For more information, read our briefing.

Potential new EU employment laws on the horizon?

New minimum information and working standards proposed

In December 2017, the EU Commission adopted a proposal for a new Directive which promises more “transparent and predictable” working conditions across the EU. If it became law, it would give workers the right to receive a written statement of their key rights on day one and, importantly, it would align the definition of worker to the case-law of the Court of Justice. Currently, the definitions may vary and certain categories of workers are excluded: by using the definition of worker from the case-law of the Court, the Directive would ensure that the same broad categories of workers are covered. The change to the definition of worker will be a concern, given its presence across a number of other Directives and the prospect that any expansion in meaning could be applied elsewhere.

The Directive would also provide for on-demand workers to have reasonable advance notice of their hours and for the right to request a more stable form of employment and receive a reply in writing. It also proposes stronger redress for employers failing to comply with the written statement duty, including the option for Member States to introduce a presumption against the employer: such as a presumption of an open-ended relationship if no information is provided about the duration of the employment relationship or a presumption of a full-time position if no information is provided on the guaranteed paid hours and so on. We expect further information on the progress of the Directive during this year.

Work-life draft Directive

The Commission’s proposal for a new work-life balance Directive remains under consideration by the EU Parliament and Council and it is expected that they will set out their different positions this year, with the aim of reaching a compromise possibly later this year. If agreement was reached, it would extend parental leave rights and introduce EU wide rights to carers’ leave, paternity leave and for parents to request flexible work arrangements.

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