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Details emerge about agreement on working time and agency workers

 Details emerge about agreement on working time and agency workers

Following the press release that on 9 and 10 June 2008, Ministers at the EU Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council had, after years of stalemate, finally reached agreement on amendments to the Working Time Directive and on the proposed Temporary Agency Workers Directive, further details have emerged about the provisions agreed.

Working Time Directive

  • The opt-out from the maximum 48-hour working week has been preserved.
  •  On-call time is to be split into active and inactive on-call time, with active on-call time being counted as working time, and inactive time being neither working time nor rest time.
  •  A protective cap on the number of hours that can be worked will apply to an individual who has opted out of the 48-hour working week. The cap will be set at 60 hours per week, unless member states agree otherwise.
  •  Certain safeguards have been imposed on the use of the opt-out: in particular, it cannot be signed until the worker has been employed for a month, and there will still be a cap of 60-hours on average.

Proposed Temporary Agency Workers Directive

  • Equal treatment between temporary agency workers and permanent workers from day one in relation to terms such as pay, maternity leave and maternity pay, unless it has been agreed collectively or at national level to derogate from this (see below for the position in the UK).
  • Equal access for temporary agency workers to permanent employment and facilities and an improvement in access to some facilities for those workers when they are between assignments.

A derogation from the equal treatment rule has already been agreed in the UK, i.e. an agreement is already in place between the UK Government, the CBI and the TUC that agency workers in the UK will only be entitled to equal treatment with comparable permanent employees after 12 weeks.

Formal texts will now be produced for each Directive, to be put before the European Parliament and formally agreed at a future meeting of the Council



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