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Renewed discussions on the Agency Work Directive at European level


In recent months, the World Employment Confederation-Europe has been active on rather concerning discussions at EU level on the Directive on temporary agency work.

The most important dimensions of these discussions are the following:
– Trade unions at European level, including the ETUC and UNI-Europa, are increasingly calling for a revision of the Directive on temporary agency work to address situations of subcontracting of agency workers and to fight abuses in the context of cross-border activities of agency workers especially in Eastern and south-eastern Europe.
– The European Parliament has called repeatedly to conduct research on the Directive on temporary agency work with a view to identify possible gaps in the protection of temporary agency workers and potential needs to revise the Directive.
– Also the EU Council encouraged the European Commission to look into the protection of agency workers in the context of the current Covid-19 context.

Furthermore, the EU Court of Justice has published a judgement in 2020 on the temporary nature of temporary agency work, underlining that Member States have a significant freedom to determine conditions and establish restrictions on the provision of temporary agency work services.

– The European Commission Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights explicitly addresses the temporary agency work industry and the Directive on temporary agency work: The Commission underlined here that it adopted guidelines on the free movement of workers and on seasonal workers in the EU in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As a follow-up, evidence is being gathered on the use of temporary agency work, in particular in the context of cross-border work. This will provide the basis for the Commission to assess the need for legislative or other action at EU level, notably a possible revision of the Temporary Agency Work Directive.

The recent debates, EU Court of Justice cases and political commitments linked to the Directive on temporary agency work are of particular concern to the World Employment Confederation. At this stage, the World Employment Confederation-Europe is in a fact-finding phase with European Public Affairs Committee Members and in contacts with EU policymakers to gather evidence and assess the real likelihood and risks of a re-opening of the Directive on temporary agency work.
This fact-finding phase will lead to the presentation of a political and advocacy strategy discussion at the level of the Executive Committee and the Governing Body meeting in June 2021. World Employment Confederation-Europe members are requested to inform the WEC Head Office on national discussions linked to the core dimensions of the Agency Work Directive.

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