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Global employment briefing: European Union, October 2017

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law


EU Commission proposes legislative changes to protect new forms of employment

The EU Commission has confirmed that it wants to broaden the scope of the current Directive on employment contracts (the Written Statement Directive) by extending it to new forms of employment, such as on-demand workers and platform workers, adding to the list of information to be notified to the worker at the start of his employment, establishing new minimum rights aimed at reducing precariousness and providing for effective enforcement measures.

It consulted on proposed changes earlier this year and has decided to move ahead with specific proposals, in the form of a second consultation, despite employer opposition. This consultation ends on 3 November 2017 and the Commission aims to present a legislative proposal before the end of the year.

Amongst the proposals, the Commission is aiming to:

  • clarify that the Directive applies to every type of person that for a ‘certain period of time performs services for and under the direction of another person in return for remuneration’ including temporary agency workers, on-demand and platform workers (such as gig workers), intermittent workers and voucher based-workers and reduce any exclusions for short-hours and short-term work unless it is so short-lived or marginal to be disproportionate
  • provide at the start of employment an extended list of information in the written statement to include content such as: the duration and conditions of the probation period (if any); the normal working schedule or that there is none (and if so, the minimum advance notice the worker is entitled to before a new assignment and the system for determining the work schedules); whether, and how many, guaranteed paid hours there are and criteria for identifying the paid hours; any training; overtime arrangements; termination rights
  • provide new minimum rights to address ‘key gaps in protection arising from the expansion of non-standard and casual forms of work’ such as: improving rights to predictability of work (such as minimum advance notice periods and the right to minimum guaranteed hours after a period of service); a right to request another form of employment and to receive a reply; limits on probation periods
  • extend the means of redress by, for example, providing for a presumption of employment where the employer fails to comply. The Commission is of the view that current sanctions which focus on compensation where claims are brought through labour courts are ineffective

Meanwhile, the Commission’s proposal for a new work-life balance Directive is currently under consideration by the EU Parliament and Council and the aim is to reach a compromise next year. If it becomes law, it will extend parental leave rights and introduce EU wide rights to carer's leave, paternity leave and for parents to request flexible work arrangements.

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