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EU Court recommends to lift restrictions on agency work in Europe

Eurociett statement in response to the Advocate Generals' conclusion, published on 20th November 2014 in a case referred to the ECJ by the Finnish Court.

The Conclusion concerns the case brought by Finnish Labour Union, AKT, against Shell Aviation and centres on the interpretation of Article 4 (1) of the EU Temporary Agency Work Directive (AWD) and on whether different treatment of Agency Workers is allowed under a Collective Labour Agreement (CLA). The Conclusion will be taken into account by the Court in its ruling expected in January or February 2015.  The CConclusions in 80% of cases.

Eurociett welcomes the interpretation of the Agency Work directive as it appears from the    A preliminary assessment brings to light key issues:  

? The Conclusions underline that article 4.1 of the Agency Work Directive prohibits maintaining or introducing restrictions on agency work, and holds a material obligation to not just review, but to actually lift restrictions on agency work. The Advocate General underlines that the only justified restrictions on agency work are those that     This is significant, as  if taken on by the Judges in their Ruling  this could provide the legal basis the European Commission has to date been missing with regards to the member states.

? The Conclusions highlight the importance of the dual goal of the Agency Work Directive: protection of workers as well as promotion of agency work as an important tool to deliver flexibility to labour markets and create jobs. The Advocate General concludes that the Directive is an instrument to create a well regulated agency work industry with good protection for workers.

? Finally, the Conclusions give an interpretation of the temporal nature of agency work. This notion does not however reflect the full spectrum of Contracts needed and available in today   It needs to be extended since temporary agency work in a series of member states such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, the UK or France also encompasses permanent and / or open-ended employment relations between a worker and an agency. The option to do so is also explicitly mentioned in the Agency Work Directive itself, and can in fact be a ground to derogate from the equal pay principle.  

Annemarie Muntz, President of Eurociett, representing the employment & recruitment industry in Europe, comments: restrictions on agency work need to be removed. His conclusions note the contribution that agencies make to labour markets and states that they are good for employment.

This is precisely why the Agency Work Directive was put in place. Agency Work is proven to contribute to well-functioning labour markets and to maintaining high levels of labour market participation. Ensuring that agency workers have access to jobs will help to reduce  

our quest to urge Governments of European member states to fully implement the agency work directive, lift restrictions, and allow our industry to play a positive role on (sic) the labour market.



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