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EU’s Directive on Temporary Agency Work Passes Final Hurdle in Strasbourg on 22 October

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3 November, 2008

Political agreement was finally achieved at the European Parliament over the Directive on Temporary Agency Work. MEPs passed – without amendment – a second reading. Adoption by the plenary on 22 October in Strasbourg, France, now means that the Council of Europe will formally adopt the statute in the coming weeks.

The directive gives agency workers equal protection and equal treatment from day one of employment as permanent workers receive. That covers the “essential conditions” of work and employment, such as hours, overtime, rest time, paid leave, and non-discriminatory policies.

The directive does grant national social partners the flexibility to set specific aspects related to temporary employment, such as equal pay and a negotiated time frame of the temporary period. This would allow collective agreements to address governance of agency work, as well as for national legislation to enact laws and work regulations.

Member-states now have three years to implement the directive into their national legislations, or to ensure and enable social partners to introduce provisions through agreement.

The second-reading vote took place six years after the directive had been first proposed. A first-reading vote, that included some 26 amendments, occurred in June of this year. The Council endorsed a common position on the directive in early October.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) welcomed the end of a long political deadlock, and gave special praise to the strong language on equality. The equal treatment principle, said ETUC General Secretary John Monks, “will not only apply to national situations but also to cross-border agency work. This is very important in the current times of increased mobility of workers and services.”