On 29 August, the European Parliament Employment Commission debated a draft EU directive on transparent and predictable working conditions (see previous EELA post here, the goal of which is twofold, namely updating the list of information items on working conditions that must be provided to workers upon their hire, and guaranteeing a set of minimum rights for all workers irrespective of the form of employment. The proposal essentially aims to guarantee such rights across newer forms of employment (e.g. zero hours contracts, on demand contracts) and across those on occupying the margins of traditional employment (e.g. those working from online employment platforms) by in particular forbidding the prohibition on workers from working for more than one employer and by instigating the requirement to guarantee a minimum number of working hours, and even setting out those time-slots and days during which workers could be requested to work.
In order to ensure that all benefit from this right regardless of differences in how different national legislations define the employment relationship, the European Commission had argued for an EU community wide definition of the notion of worker that itself has taken up from the CJEU namely, ‘a physical person who accomplishes, for the benefit of another person, and under direction of that other person, services in return for remuneration.’ Codifying the definition of a worker within a legislative text has raised problems for national governments and in their political agreement on the text dating back to June 2018 (see previous EELAS post here ) they opted to omit the EU definition of the worker (and that of the employer), leaving the EU Member States national discretion over who would benefit (or not) from protection levels.
This debate has also arisen between the political parties of the European Parliament. During the course of his presentation, the Employment Commission rapporteur for the draft directive, Enrique Calvet Chambon (ALDE – Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) emphasized he was going to be working on a compromise draft, striking a balance between the political forces by prioritizing ‘rights entry’ rather than taking a ‘legal classification’ approach. For the rapporteur the issue is not defining the working relationship but instead ensuring that ‘all those in a situation of economic, organizational, functional, and hierarchical dependence, are covered under the future directive, regardless of how national legislation defines the employment relationship.’ As regards other points such as the time lapse for providing information on working conditions, the rapporteur was confident that MEPs would agree on flexible provisions (distinguishing between essential information that should be promptly provided and other information). The Employment commission will vote on the report on 18 October.