The European Union (EU) Directive 2019/1152 of 20 June 2019 (the “Directive”) aims to encourage more transparent and predictable working conditions across the EU. The Directive creates new minimum employment standards to ensure that all workers in the EU benefit from more predictability and clarity with regards to their working conditions. The Directive entered into force on 31 July 2019, and EU member states have a transposition deadline of 1 August 2022.
The Directive repeals the previous EU directive of 1991 (written statement directive – 91/533/EEC) on the employers’ obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to their employment contract or relationship. The Directive expands workers’ rights and addresses insufficient protections for workers in precarious jobs. At the same time, the Directive increases labor market transparency and maintains its adaptability. In addition, the Directive addresses the labor market’s new needs and changes that have emerged since the previous directive in 1991.
The Directive applies to all workers in the EU and covers all forms of work to include casual work, domestic work, zero-hour contracts and more.
The Directive introduces the following minimum employment rights:
- Timely information on essential employment aspects: information about essential aspects of the employment relationship should be provided in writing from the first day of employment and no later than seven calendar days after work begins. The information can be provided in electronic form so long as it can be printed and stored. Previously, under the EU directive of 1991, the written information could be provided anytime within two months from the first day of employment.
- Maximum duration of any probationary period: probationary periods cannot exceed six months. Exceptions may only exist with justification by the nature of the employment or in the case that it is in the interest of the employee.
- The right to accept multiple employments: workers can take employment with other companies as long as it does not conflict with employment terms otherwise outlined and agreed upon. The only circumstances where an employer may refuse to share employment involve concerns of health and safety, the protection of business intellectual capital or conflicts of interest. Therefore, the use of incompatibility clauses regarding parallel employment should be prohibited unless duly justified.
- Advanced notice of work schedule: reasonable advance notice when work will take place shall be provided to workers hired with no fixed schedule of work. The employee has the right to refuse tasks that do not meet the outlined minimum notice requirements. The definition of what the reasonable timeframe for notification should be is determined by each member state.
- Measures to prevent abusive practices regarding on-demand contracts: use of on-demand contracts must provide a duration or it must be assumed that an employment contract with a minimum number of paid hours exists.
- The right to transition to another form of employment for workers in non-standard employment: a worker with at least six months’ service with the same employer, who has completed any required probationary period, may request a transfer of employment to an available position with more predictable and secure working conditions. The worker must receive a reasoned written reply within one month of the request.
- The right to free mandatory training: in the case that training is required for a worker to be able to carry out their work, such training shall be provided at the employer’s expense.
The Directive brings significant changes to employment conditions in several EU countries. Each member state will need to transpose this directive into their national legislation by 1 August 2022. Employers should monitor local legislation as the interpretations may be different in each member state and review their hiring practices to ensure compliance.