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Global employment briefing: European Union, October 2018

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law


An update on recent EU employment law policy developments for global HR practitioners:

Transparent and predictable working conditions

A draft EU directive, if it is agreed, will update and repeal the existing directive which provides for employees to be notified in writing of the essential aspects of their employment relationship (the written statement directive).

The aim of the draft directive is to address the changing workplace, specifically, the growing casualisation of the labour market and the increase in the number of 'non-standard' forms of employment, such as temporary employment, part-time and on call work, zero hours contracts, on demand and ‘gig’ working. These may not be as regular or predictable as traditional employment relationships and can lead to uncertainty over worker rights.

The draft directive includes revised obligations in relation to the written statement, in particular, the requirement to provide more information to workers and to provide it earlier on in the employment relationship. For example, if the worker's work pattern is unpredictable, the employer would have to indicate the reference period in which the worker may be required to work and the minimum advance notice.

A key consideration, when assessing the impact of this proposal on employers, is the scope of the new directive. It applies to ‘workers’ and the exact limit of that term (whether it includes the self-employed, for example) needs clarifying.

A number of minimum rights for workers are also defined, including the right:

  • to limit to six months any probation period (subject to conditions)
  • to work for more than one employer (subject to conditions)
  • to know reasonably in advance when work will take place
  • to ask for a more secure job and receive a written reply from the employer

In addition, the directive proposes strengthening enforcement rights in favour of the worker, reflecting evidence of low levels of enforcement in relation to the existing directive.

This directive should be on the radar of those employers with large casual workforces, including gig employers. The draft directive must be agreed between the Council and Parliament. The latter is ready to negotiate with Parliament, however, Parliament has yet to agree its position. It therefore seems unlikely that the directive will be finalised, if at all, until 2019.