European Union: Update on EU Legislation

Last Updated: 24 April 2002
(1) Temporary agency workers

The draft EU directive on temporary agency workers foreshadowed in recent press reports (see e-mail update of 8th March 2002) has now been published. The draft directive would give temporary agency workers a right to be treated no less favourably than comparable workers in the business where they are placed in relation to seniority in the job and "basic working and employment conditions" (defined as working time, rest periods, night work, paid and public holidays; pay; work done by pregnant women, nursing mothers, children and young persons; and action to combat discrimination). Under the terms of the draft directive, the right to non-discrimination would come into effect after the worker had been assigned to the same undertaking for 6 weeks. The DTI is to press Brussels to extend this to 12 months. Exceptions are possible where:

  • objective reasons exist, justifying the difference
  • where temporary agency workers have permanent contracts with their agency under which they are paid even on those days not assigned to a client, or
  • where collective agreements stipulate an adequate level of working conditions for temporary agency workers.
A comparable worker will be one occupying an identical or similar post taking into account seniority, qualifications and skills.

There will also be an obligation to provide information about vacant permanent posts. Restrictions on the client recruiting the agency worker for a permanent post will be null and void as will any related agency fees charged to the worker. Agency workers are to be given access to the social services of the client and access to training organized by the client and agency.

This controversial proposal clearly could have a significant impact on the costs and therefore use of agency workers. Temporary agency workers are contracted to the agency rather than the client and therefore rarely have the same salary and benefits as the client's permanent staff. The Commission's proposal follows the failure of the social partners to reach agreement on the issue and there is a long way to go before the text is finalised and adopted. The directive could become more palatable if the Government manages to negotiate an exclusion from its scope for workers' pay and benefits, some of which (eg occupational pensions) would be administratively complex to extend to short-term temps. If the proposal is implemented in its current form, agencies willing to give their temps permanent contracts with the agency, including pay even when the worker is not assigned, may become very popular!

Also note that the Government's proposed changes to the employment agencies regulations (see e-mail update dated 2nd February 2001) remain outstanding. Revised regulations are expected in the next few months.

(2) "National Works Councils"

There has been further progress on the European Directive on Information and Consultation (for further details see e-mail updates dated 25th June 2001 and 10th January 2002). The joint text for the so-called "National Works Council" directive was finally adopted in February 2002. The directive will have to be implemented in the UK by 23rd March 2005. At that point it will apply to businesses with 150 or more employees. Those with 100 or more employees will be covered from March 2007 and those with 50 or more from March 2008. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will not be affected. The Government has indicated that it will consult widely about implementation in the UK.

(3) Sexual harassment

The European Parliament and Council have announced that they have reached agreement on a draft directive amending the Equal Treatment Directive to expressly cover sexual harassment at work. The agreement now has to be formally approved and adopted by both institutions (expected to take place in May) and will then have to be implemented by Member States by 2005. The Directive is not yet publicly available, but press releases state that the Directive will:

  • lay down a clear definition of sexual harassment (as a form of discrimination) as "where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment"
  • require employers to produce "equality plans" (including gender breakdowns of the workforce and statistical details of men and women who have been trained and promoted) and to make these available to the employer's workforce
  • define as discrimination instructions to discriminate on grounds of sex
  • introduce rights to paternity leave and provide that men returning from such leave and women returning from maternity leave are entitled to return to their job or an equivalent post on terms and conditions no less favourable
  • provide that compensation for discrimination may not be subject to a ceiling
  • oblige Member States to set up promotional bodies (with roles similar to the EOC)
Most of the provisions of the Directive will require little change to UK law (the "equality plans" provision is a notable exception), but it is likely to have a larger impact elsewhere - the proposal is apparently aimed at the southern Member States where there is little understanding of harassment issues!

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.