Appropriate and less restrictive agency work regulations will promote economic and social recovery in Europe – EURACTIV.com
Ongoing attempts at European and national level to restrict agency work risk undermining the essential contribution the sector can make to the recovery of European economies and the sustainability of their labor markets.
Menno Bart is a member of the Executive Committee of the World Confederation for Jobs-Europe and Dr Michael Freytag is Head of Public Affairs at the World Confederation for Jobs-Europe.
The private employment services sector is a key player in European economies, helping to match labor demand and supply, managing labor market risks and fostering more inclusive labor markets and dynamic. This positive role of our industry has been demonstrated again in recent months, as economic activity in the agency work sector has experienced a rapid and strong recovery with the relaxation of measures related to Covid-19, reaching pre-crisis levels in several European countries.
Yet we are seeing more and more attempts at European and national level to restrict agency work, often motivated by the desire to change the working conditions of agency workers and to maintain / strengthen the temporary nature of agency work. This was a key element of the reforms in Germany which introduced a maximum duration of missions for temporary work and in Italy. Discussions on the temporary nature of agency work and the protection of agency workers are also key elements of national discussions on the regulation of agency work in Spain, where there is currently a debate on the range of employment contracts used in the employment sector. temporary work and in Sweden.
The private employment services sector fully supports appropriate regulation of agency work in Europe. Providing decent and rewarding work is at the heart of our mission. There is already a wide range of European regulations covering our sector: the Temporary Agency Work Directive, the Directives on Health and Safety at Work, the Posting of Workers Directive and EU legal instruments regulating the protection of workers. third country nationals. As the World Confederation for Jobs-Europe, we consider this framework adequate and up to date. It is not necessary to modify or revise it.
At the same time, EU directives can only reach their full potential in unlocking the economic and social contribution of temporary agency work and ensuring adequate protection for agency workers if they are properly transposed, applied and enforced at national level. For the Temporary Agency Work Directive, for example, this means that national regulations must be appropriate and that any unjustified restrictions must be lifted. At present, the agency work sector in Europe still faces many unjustified restrictions that limit its contribution to more inclusive labor markets, such as sectoral bans, strict maximum duration of assignments or restrictions on employment. ‘range of employment contracts that can be offered to labor agencies. Progress should be made in this area by reviewing existing national regulations and working jointly at the national level to remove unjustified restrictions.
A second equally important element of the Temporary Agency Work Directive is the principle of equal treatment. When assessing the implementation of the Directive in 2014, the European Commission concluded that the principles of equal treatment and pay have been correctly transposed by all EU Member States. On the basis of the directive, derogations are still possible through collective labor agreements and this option is used by several European countries. For example, in terms of remuneration, derogations are authorized in the case of contracts of indefinite duration, providing for remuneration between missions. The Posting of Workers Directive extends the protection afforded by the Temporary Agency Work Directive to temporary workers crossing borders in the EU single market when providing a service. These European rules ensuring the protection of temporary agency workers remain appropriate and we have fully supported them.
The World Confederation for Jobs-Europe also encourages the continuation of dialogue and exchanges between sectoral social partners at European and national levels in order to ensure that the dual objective of the Directive on the appropriate regulation of temporary agency work in the sector and the protection temporary workers is reached. Reforms and changes to national agency work regulations should always be assessed in the light of the guiding principles of the Agency Work Directive. In many European countries, the sectoral social partners are committed to setting the pay and working conditions of temporary agency workers. An important role is played in this context by the bipartite funds in the field of training, working conditions and social protection, which play a leading role for example in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy and in Spain.
With regard to professional mobility and the provision of services within the EU, the World Confederation of Jobs-Europe supports the EU directives in place. Emphasis should be placed here on the application and implementation of the existing acquis and on the dialogue between social partners, national authorities and EU bodies, such as the European Labor Authority and the European platform for combating undeclared work. The World Confederation for Jobs-Europe has observer status with the platform to combat undeclared work and is an alternate member of the European Labor Authority’s stakeholder group, thus actively contributing to the discussions on the application of existing European legislation to ensure the protection of temporary agency workers.
As Europe emerges from the Covid-19 crisis, actions that will support the recovery are essential. Enabling the private sector of employment services to fully play its role in promoting more dynamic, inclusive and adaptable labor markets is part of this. It is only if this approach is followed that our industry – and in particular agency work services – can continue to be a key partner not only in the recovery, but also in further reforming our labor markets and make more resilient to the “new normal”.