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Global employment briefing: European Union - February 2016

  • Europe
  • Employment law - HR E-Brief


Important EU data protection changes are a step nearer
After years in the offing, the EU Parliament, Council and Commission representatives have reached political agreement on the drafting of the new EU data protection framework. Although minor modifications remain possible, it is highly likely that the final processes will be completed early in 2016, with the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) coming into force 2 years after final adoption - likely to be spring 2018.

The GDPR will have significant impacts on how businesses collect and process the personal data of individuals. For further information, read our briefing.

New EU rights aimed at working parents?
Last year the Commission announced new proposals to increase the participation of women in the labour market “by improving the current EU legal and policy framework and adapting it to today's labour market to allow for working parents and people with dependent relatives to better balance family and work life, allow for a greater sharing of care responsibilities between women and men, and to strengthen gender equality”.

It is currently consulting, until February 2016, on a range of possible options at EU-level to support work-life balance, including proposals involving paternity and carers’ leave, flexible working and the take-up of parental leave by fathers. However, no firm proposals are expected until later this year and the Social Partners (both sides of industry) might agree to work together to produce an agreement on the options. As such, it is too early to say what kind of impact this will have on employers.

Women on Boards Directive fails to progress
Member States are blocking progress on the draft Directive aimed at ensuring that at least 40% of non-executive directors on listed company boards are women. The main objection from blocking States is that boardroom gender diversity should be regulated at national, not EU level, and that the Directive does not comply with the subsidiarity principle. For now, it seems unlikely that EU action will take place given this stalemate.

EU consults on the Written Statements Directive
The EU has commenced a consultation on the employer's duty to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employment relationship (the so-called Written Statements Directive). The Directive gives employees the right to be notified in writing of the essential aspects of their employment relationship when it starts or shortly after. The consultation asks whether the Directive is fit for purpose given the emergence of new forms of working such as agency, zero hours and atypical working. It states that “It is not clear to the European Commission how Member States ensure or not that people working under these new forms of employment receive the information required by the Directive.” The consultation closes in April 2016.