On Thursday, 18 October 2018, the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs voted on the proposal for a Directive on predictable and transparent working conditions. For workers and the trade union movement, the result of the vote represents at least a partial victory. In particular workers in precarious employment would benefit from the Directive, which would ensure some fundamental information and minimum rights.
During an event, organised by the Brussels Offices of the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour (AK), the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB Europabüro), European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and THE European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) two days before the vote on the proposal for a Directive on predictable and transparent working conditions, the EMPL rapporteur MEP Calvet Chambon raised concern that the vote might be delayed by its opponents. However, on 18 October 2018, trade unions and labour representations were able to record a first satisfactory result.
Based on the voting result of the EU Employment Committee, some important points of the Commission proposal have been improved. Of particular importance is the wide scope of the Directive (Concept of Worker), which includes also workers in the platform economy, freelancers and workers on low hour contracts and so-called zero-hour contracts. Workers have to be provided with the most important information on their employment conditions on the first day of starting work: what is almost revolutionary in this area is the fact that workers will also receive the contact details of their relevant trade union until the seventh day of employment.
In future, companies shall no longer be allowed to charge people for training on the job; instead workers have to be compensated for the hours they work in on the job training. Workers, who work 'on call' have to be compensated if their shifts are cancelled on short-term notice. The decision of the Employment Committee also stipulates that workers, who ask for more or different working hours, have the right to due consideration and to a reasoned response. Posted workers have the right to be informed about their remuneration before they start work. Apart from a few exceptions, competition clauses shall no longer be allowed in the future. Another provision, according to which Member States have to involve the social partners when implementing new regulations, was accepted.
According to the voting result, the Member States are encouraged to ban so-called zero-hour contracts. After a period of 6 months, the legal assumption applies, according to which a contract consists of at least 75% of the hours worked during the past 6 months. The EU Parliament has also provided for limiting the trial period to a maximum of 6 months; in case of shorter contracts to maximum 25% of the employment contract. Limiting the trial period is generally to be welcomed; however, in view of the maximal duration of the trial period, the AK supports a maximum trial period of 4 weeks as is the case in Austria.
It is now important that the plenary of the EU Parliament will confirm the good voting result of the Employment Committee; the same applies to the approval of the Council. The Council had already agreed to a general orientation in the Employment Council in June 2018. During the plenary week from 12 - 15 November 2018, it is now the turn for the plenary of the EU Parliament to pave the way for the trilogue negotiations.