On 21 September, the European Commission published a study it had commissioned on the implementation of the autonomous framework agreement signed by the European social partners (the ETUC representing the unions, BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, and the CEEP representing the employers) on harassment and violence at work that was signed back in 2007 and sent to the national social partners for deployment.

Final report on the agreement’s implementation. The 2007 agreement (brought several innovative elements. It was a ‘voluntary’ agreement, or in other words not strictly binding and not universally applicable (it wasn’t taken up in a Directive) and so therefore its implementation was left up to the national social partners instead of the legislators.

Nonetheless, by adopting the text, albeit non-binding the European Commission cannot as a result start any legislative initiatives. In addition, with this agreement for the first time the business community is the focus in so far as it sets the principle that companies must adopt a zero-tolerance approach to the risks of violence and harassment at work. Finally, in another first, the agreement treats violence exercised by third parties.

The study was delivered in June 2015 but only made public on 21 September 2016. It was commissioned by the European Commission, which undertook to analyze its implementation throughout the Member States and the European Economic Area countries. The study found in:

  • – five countries the national cross-industry social partners used agreements to implement the Framework Agreement: Cyprus, Denmark, Spain, France, and Luxemburg with the final two countries declaring them universally applicable.
  • – Austria, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, social partners favored joint guidance, brochures, declarations, recommendations and charters.
  • – The Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Island, and Portugal, the social partners focused their joint implementation activities on the translation and dissemination of the text of the agreement and relied then on sectoral and company level implementation (especially in Germany and Island).
  • – In ten of the 31 EU and the European Economic Area countries the social partners undertook no action either because they deemed existing legislation and agreements to be sufficient (Belgium, Liechtenstein and Italy’s Public Sector) or because the social partners and/or social dialogue was too ineffectual (Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovakia). Bulgaria, Croatia, and Greece also undertook no action for other reasons.

Three detailed annexes to the study outline the different measures undertaken by the various countries.