Agreement in the Council
At a meeting on 21 June 2018, the Council agreed on a position. The Council’s position provides for several changes, including the ability of Member States to derogate from the obligations contained within the Directive for certain workers. Whereas the Commission’s proposal focuses on work relationships that do not exceed eight hours in a reference period of one month, the Council would like this to be work relationships with an average weekly working time of five hours over a reference period of four weeks.
The Council's position also allows Member States, where justified on objective grounds, to exempt certain civil servants from the minimum requirements for working conditions. In terms of the timing for the obligation to provide information, the Council has adopted a two-stage approach. Basic information should be provided to workers within one week of them commencing work and further information within one month. This information includes the place of work, nature of work, working time, the duration and conditions of the probationary period, remuneration, the amount of paid leave, training entitlements and the institution to which social security contributions are paid.
A controversial issue was the amendment introduced earlier by the European Commission's proposal to align the definition of ‘worker’ with the case law of the European Court of Justice. There were also concerns from the Member States, including an additional reference to national law. These have now taken solid form in the Council’s general approach of 21 June. According to the proposed text, the definition of ‘employment contract’ or ‘employment relationship’, and thus the scope of the Directive, refers to the definition of national legislation or collective agreements.
Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) released an opinion on the Directive on 23 May. In its conclusions and recommendations, the ESSC supports the Commission’s proposal, particularly in regard to workers in non-standard employment.
As regards the definition of the concept of worker, the EESC points out that the criterion of ‘being under the direction of another’ might prevent the inclusion of platform workers. The EESC therefore recommends further clarification, so that these workers also fall under the protection of the proposed Directive. However, the EESC believes that people using platforms who are genuinely self-employed and independent should be excluded from the scope of the Directive.
In December last year, as part of the follow-up to the European Pillar of Social Rights, in particular implementation of Principles 5 ‘Secure and Adaptable Employment’ and 7 ‘Information about Employment Conditions and Protection in case of dismissals’, the Commission proposed a Directive for more transparent and predictable working conditions (see DSV article).
A public consultation took place in the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs in May, but the Committee's decision is still pending.