Agreement in the trilogue on the Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions has been reached between European Commission, Council and Parliament. Whether the Directive will indeed result in improved and more transparent working conditions for employees, in particular also those in a-typical forms of employment (crowdworkers, on-demand workers and many more), will only become apparent through the final text of the Directive and the concrete implementation of the Directive in the Member States, for which unfortunately these have been granted a period of three years.
It is the overarching objective of the Directive to support safe and predictable employment and at the same time to retain the flexibility of the labour market. Another aim is to improve the living and working conditions, in particular also for people working in a-typical employment (e.g. crowdworkers, on-demand workers, trainees, clickworkers, freelancers).
Even though the Directive is a step towards a more social Europe, showing that some progress has been made, it still does not meet the expectations of the improved Commission proposal and the demands of the European Parliament and in particular also those of the Chamber of Labour. As also emphasised by ETUC Confederal Secretary Esther Lynch, it is definitely a success that the ”Directive on an employer’s obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employment relationship” has progressed from a pure Information Directive to a Directive, which also provides protection through determining minimum standards.
However, from the point of view of the Chamber of Labour the limited scope of the Directive, which was temporarily agreed by European Commission, Council and Parliament, is critical. The reason being that it excludes employees, who are working fewer than three hours per week and some other employment categories from the protection of the Directive. The comprehensive scope, which was aimed at and supported by the Chamber of Labour as well as an explicit ban of work on demand, in particular zero-hour contracts were not enshrined in the Directive. Our understanding is that one has also failed to include another definition of worker in the Directive, as it had been demanded by the European Parliament. However, one has to wait for the final text of the Directive to find out which forms of employment have been actually included in the Directive and to what extent transparency and protection, also for a-typical forms of employment will exist in Austria.
The agreement comprises the following main points:
- Employees must be provided with important information on the employment relationship in written or electronic form within the first seven days of the employment relationship and additional information within a month
- The mandatory information, employees have been provided with will be supplemented by some important points, such as more precise information on working time in case of variable working times, probation, overtime regulations, competent social security institution
- The maximum length of probationary at the start of the employment relationship is six months, unless a longer period is justified
- The option of being employed by other employers associated with a ban on exclusivity clauses and restrictions for incompatibility clauses have been enshrined in the Directive
- Employees, whose work schedule is changeable and determined by the employer, must be informed in advance when they might be required to work (e.g. work on demand)
- Entitlement to compensation in case of short-term cancellations of the assignment by the employer
- The costs for mandatory training and further training have to be met by the employer
- Entitlement to receive a written reply to the request of changing to a form of employment with secure working conditions within a month; for small and medium-sized enterprises within 3 months
- Measures concerning law enforcement
Even if the Chamber of Labour generally welcomes the agreed measures in the Directive and in particular their further development, a comprehensive and ambitious approach is needed to strengthen the quality of work and the promotion of secure and more predictable employment to improve living and working conditions. This requires the clear target to ban and push back respectively precarious forms of employment and to prevent labour and social rights to be undermined at the expense of employees with a low level of protection. Against the background of the huge increase of a-typical and precarious employment relationships, which provide many EU citizens only with insufficient labour law protection and access to social security, it is regrettable that the Directive grants Member States an implementation period of three years, even though the need for action is urgent.