On 21.12.2017, the Commission had presented its proposal for a Directive on transparent und predictable working conditions. This week (19.6.2018), MEPs of the responsible Employment Committee debated the now available EP draft report on the Directive. Even though it was possible to recognise the general approval of the proposal by all factions, opinions significantly differed in particular with regard to the question, who should be the future beneficiary of the extended rights of the Directive (“notion of the employee”).
The proposed Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions represents a review of the current Directive on an employer's obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employment relationship. It in particular pursues the objective to put more emphasis on the working conditions of people working in atypical employment and to include new types of work in its scope. On the one hand, the proposal provides for an extended catalogue of employers' information obligations on important aspects of the employment relationship, which have to be available upon entering employment at the latest (untill now up to two months after starting employment). On the other hand, the draft Directive contains five articles, which provide for the introduction of new minimum standards.
The report by EP rapporteur Enrique Calvet Chambon (ALDE) on the Directive has been published on 29h May 2018, whereby the report’s general orientation follows the Commission proposal: in particular concerning the broad notion of an employee, which is foreseen in the Commission proposal, the rapporteur made clear that he will fight hard to sustain this definition: from his point of view, new types of employment have to be included in the proposal; otherwise he will not agree to the report, once it comes to the voting. It will be important to create the same initial conditions in the Single Market, a “level playing field”, conluded Chambon.
In its exchange with MEPs, the Commission too emphasised its desire for the Directive’s wide and uniform scope: the definition provided by the Directive is in accordance with ECJ’s established case-law. In addition, the proposed 'notion of the employee’ would only apply to the concrete Directive and would not require any changes with regard to the applicable national concept of workers. However, some Member States, in particular the Scandinavian countries and Germany, have concerns regarding to the notion of the employee. This was confirmed by the German MEP Dennis Radtke (EPP), who raised objections against the EP draft report in this regard.
Apart from the debate on the area of application, many MEPs demanded a ban on zero hour contracts, which is also an important demand of Chamber of Labour. The S&D shadow rapporteur Javi López was also in favour of resharpening the EP report in this point. In addition, he took a critical view concerning the possible exemption of civil servants from the Directive’s area of application.
There are also divergent opinions as to when information obligations have to be fulfilled: whilst the Commission proposal sets the date on entering employment and the EP draft report 3 working days later (with the option to grant a further week), the Chamber of Labour supports the idea to make relevant information available at least one week prior to taking up employment. There are also major differences with regard to the probationary period: from the point of view of the chamber of Labour, the probationary period of 6 months provided for in the commission proposal, should be limited to just 1 month. The EP report even provides for the admissibility of a 12-month probationary period, which might even be extended due to a longer period of illness.
MEPs and the Commission agreed to negotiate and finalize the Directive swiftly. Due to the approaching end of the legislative period, the schedule will be ambitions. The deadline for tabling amendments ends next Tuesday (26.6.) and the Employment Committee shall vote on the Directive on 18th October.
From the point of view of Chamber of Labour, one has to defend - on the basis of the present Commission proposal and EP draft report - those provisions, which would improve the rights of workers. Instead of being too far-reaching, as argued by business lobbies and neoliberal political forces, Chamber of Labour underlines its commitment to ensure that the planned Directive needs to be strengthened with regard to workers’ rights. The proposed levels of protection could still be significantly improved with regard to extending information rights (in particular for posted workers) and the proposed minimum standards.