Adoption of Temporary Agency Work Directive breaks deadlock on social Europe

Brussels, 22 October 2008

ETUC was particularly satisfied with the way the Council solved the issue of equal treatment between agency workers and workers in the user enterprise – the most contentious issue in the Directive which blocked progress for the past 6 years. The Directive will not anymore introduce a general qualifying period before the equal treatment principle would apply as was proposed previously, but instead only allows for derogation by collective agreement or – under specific conditions – by agreement between the national social partners.

Says John Monks, General Secretary of the ETUC: “This is a very welcome signal that the deadlock in the development of social Europe is broken and that social progress at EU level is both necessary and possible. The Directive will establish the principle of equal treatment between agency workers and workers in the user enterprise, which 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. The Directive also gives an important role to social partners to deal with the implementation and application of this principle in practice, which allows for flexibility while ensuring the protection of workers”.