European Union: Eurovision

Last Updated: 21 March 2007
Article by David Whincup

Europe gradually becomes smokefree

France and Germany are both introducing smoking bans this year.

The German Government has however scrapped proposals to introduce a nationwide ban on smoking in public places following concerns that its plans were unconstitutional and that it did not in fact have the power to ban smoking at State level. Instead it has opted simply to ban smoking in all Federal buildings, including schools, hospitals and government offi ces. The country’s 16 States will now determine their own rules for restaurants and businesses. They are currently in the process of setting up a working group to see if they can agree a common set of rules, but no decisions will be taken until March at the earliest. The Government’s stance means that whilst Germany has one of the highest rates of tobacco use in Europe it will probably also have some of the most liberal smoking laws, at least in the short term.

France also banned smoking in public places from 1 February 2007, although cafes, nightclubs and restaurants have been given until 2008 to comply with the new legislation. France decided to introduce a ban after Government statistics showed that 60,000 deaths a year there are linked directly to tobacco consumption.

Italy and Spain have already introduced partial bans on smoking in public places and England is set to introduce a smoking ban in July 2007. The European Commission is now consulting on proposals to introduce an EU-wide ban on smoking in public places, including offi ces. The consultation period ends on 1 May.

Germany’s baby bonus

Parents of children born in Germany in 2007 will be entitled to a cash subsidy under new measures introduced in January designed to address its falling birth rate.

Germany currently has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe with an average of 1.3 children per woman: much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 births.

Under the new scheme one parent (mother or father) will be entitled to receive up to 1,800 Euros per month for a maximum period of 12 months whilst the other parent will be entitled to two months’ paid leave – an attempt to encourage fathers in particular to take parental leave. Only those parents who cease working altogether or who work less than 30 hours per week will be eligible to receive the maximum payment under the 12-month scheme. However, all parents will be entitled to at least 300 Euros per month, even if they were not working prior to the birth of their child. Single parents who have sole custody will be eligible for benefi ts for up to 14 months.

The new scheme only applies to babies born on or after 1 January 2007. This reportedly resulted in some German mothers going to extreme lengths to delay childbirth so as not to miss out on the generous cash subsidy.

A number of other Member States have also taken steps to address the problem of declining domestic birth rates. Last year France introduced measures to encourage women to have more babies, including the payment of a monthly allowance for families with three children.

German workers gear up to work for longer

The statutory retirement age in Germany is set to increase from 65 to 67 years of age.

The change will be phased in gradually: the retirement age will increase by one month per year from 2012 and by two months per year between 2024 and 2029. An exception will be made for anyone who has already made social security contributions for 45 years or more.

The German Government will also be taking measures to promote the employment of older workers. There will be wage subsidies for older workers who are prepared to accept jobs paying less than their previous employment and bonuses for employers who take on older workers for at least one year.

In light of these changes employers should review their employment contracts and any existing works agreements and collective bargaining arrangements.

UK health and safety laws given the green light ... for the time being

In October 2006 we reported that health and safety experts were keeping a close eye on the European Commission’s claim against the UK Government (Case C-127/05). The Commission claimed that because Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 only required UK employers to ensure the health and safety of their workers "so far as is reasonably practicable" the Government was in breach of its obligations under the European Directive (89/391) which appears to place an absolute obligation on employers. This is despite the fact that the UK has been one of the Member States with the lowest rate of workplace accidents.

The Advocate General recently dismissed the Commission’s claim and ordered it to pay costs. It said that the Commission’s claim was based on an incorrect interpretation of the Directive and that the general duty placed on employers did not require them to provide a totally risk-free working environment.

The Advocate General’s decision is not binding on the European Court of Justice which ultimately has to determine this issue, although hopefully the Court will adopt the same approach, not least because to adopt the strict approach argued for would simply be impossible in many cases. This matter is likely to be heard by the ECJ later this year.

Spain puts subcontractors in the spotlight

On 19 April 2007 Spain will introduce further measures aimed at reducing the number of accidents in the construction sector and at controlling subcontracting. Spain is currently responsible for 20% of all workplace accidents in the EU.

Before a company will be permitted to engage in the construction sector, either as a contractor or a subcontractor, it will have to provide guarantees of solvency and quality and to demonstrate that both senior managers have had appropriate training in the prevention of risk and that it has implemented an appropriate risk-avoidance policy. Subcontracting will also be prohibited beyond three levels.

It remains to be seen whether these additional legislative measures will have the desired effect.

Italy sets budget for 2007

The Italian Government has introduced a range of measures in its 2007 Budget Law designed to encourage employers to hire employees on "standard" permanent contracts of employment rather than atypical "work on projects" contracts. The Budget also contains measures aimed at curbing the use of illegal workers in Italy. According to Italy’s National Statistics Institute, illegal work accounts for between 15.9% and 17.6% of Gross Domestic Product.

ECJ case watch

Carers in the UK may gain protection from discrimination if Ms Coleman’s claim against her former employer is successful before the European Court of Justice. In Coleman v Attridge Law (C-303/06) Ms Coleman is seeking protection under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 even though she is not disabled. She claims that she should be protected from discrimination because she is the carer of a disabled person. She claims that she was forced to resign as a legal secretary after a series of clashes with her boss over her taking time off to care for her severely disabled son.

The Employment Tribunal has referred her claim to the ECJ for it to determine whether the Equal Treatment Framework Directive covers "associative discrimination" i.e. discrimination against a non-disabled person on grounds of their association with a disabled person. This matter is likely to be heard later this year. In the meantime we may well see other employees bringing similar complaints and asking for them to be stayed pending the outcome of the referral to the ECJ.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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

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

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
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
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (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 www.mondaq.com

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 Mondaq.com’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.

Disclaimer

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.

Registration

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 unsubscribe@mondaq.com 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.

Cookies

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.

Links

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.

Mail-A-Friend

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.

Security

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 webmaster@mondaq.com.

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 EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

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 enquiries@mondaq.com.

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