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Global employment briefing: European Union, January 2015

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    The EU’s employment work programme for 2015

    The EU Commission published its 2015 Work Programme in December with the following employment-related items. It will:

    • consolidate and simplify three Directives in the area of information and consultation of workers (the Collective Redundancies, Acquired Rights and Informing and Consulting with Employees Directives) taking into account the results of a consultation with the Social Partners. This is part of the EU’s efforts to “make EU law simpler and less costly” however concerns have been raised that this may result in ‘upwards’ harmonisation;
    • withdraw the draft Pregnant Workers Directive (which was blocked following opposition from national governments) and replace it with a new proposal if no agreement is reached within six months;
    • undertake a targeted review of the Posting of Workers Directive to support labour mobility and tackle abuse;
    • complete an evaluation of the Fixed Term and Part Time Workers Directives and start a review of the Directive which sets out the employer's duty to provide a statement of an employee’s main terms and conditions upon commencing work;
    • complete the EU’s accession to the European Convention of Human Rights.

    Separately, the Commission commenced an open consultation on possible changes to the Working Time Directive (further details here). In addition, the proposed Directive on improving gender balance on company boards stalled in December when the EU Council failed to reach agreement. Efforts will continue to achieve a qualified majority in Council, however, it may be some time before both the EU Parliament and the Council are ready to agree the same text – a necessary step if this Directive is to become law.

    European Union Court confirms obesity can, in some cases, be a disability

    The European Union Court of Justice has ruled that, although there is no general principle of EU law prohibiting in itself discrimination on grounds of obesity, that condition may fall within the concept of ‘disability’ and thereby attract protection against discrimination under the Equal Treatment Framework Directive. It will only do so, however, where the usual criteria for establishing a disability are satisfied, including where the obesity hinders the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life on an equal basis with other workers.

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