Thu Nov 30th, 2006 at 07:13:57 AM EST
The European Commission has recently released its Green Paper on labour law - which was already broken here by Colman in October - and opened the Consultation round.
Over to the Commission:
The discussion paper is aimed at anyone with an interest in the changing nature of work in Europe. In particular, the Commission expects to receive responses from national authorities, trade unions and employers' organisations, as well as the general public. By having an open and vigorous debate, it hopes to encourage the widest range of contributions possible. The consultation will remain open for four months ending on 31st March 2007.
Here on Eurotrib, Jerome commented on a news story about this, in which the business community was whining about some perceived threat of actual regulation. But just because business doesn't like what it's seeing, doesn't mean that the Green Paper is actually very good.
Personally, I think it's rather myopic that the green paper does not seek to address the relationship between labour law, employment security and birthrates explicitly (see post). In my opinion, this is but one of the many topics that can no longer be treated in isolation, but which the EU is continuing to handle as if it could be.
You can find the green paper here (.pdf). These are the questions asked in the consultation, some of them may not be comprehensible out of context, though:
- What would you consider to be the priorities for a meaningful labour law reform agenda?
- Can the adaptation of labour law and collective agreements contribute to improved flexibility and employment security and a reduction in labour market segmentation? If yes, then how?
- Do existing regulations, whether in the form of law and/or collective agreements, hinder or stimulate enterprises and employees seeking to avail of opportunities to increase productivity and adjust to the introduction of new technologies and changes linked to international competition? How can improvements be made in the quality of regulations affecting SMEs, while preserving their objectives?
- How might recruitment under permanent and temporary contracts be facilitated, whether by law or collective agreement, so as to allow for more flexibility within the framework of these contracts while ensuring adequate standards of employment security and social protection at the same time?
- Would it be useful to consider a combination of more flexible employment protection legislation and welldesigned assistance to the unemployed, both in the form of income compensation (i.e. passive labour market policies) and active labour market policies?
- What role might law and/or collective agreements negotiated between the social partners play in promoting access to training and transitions between different contractual forms for upward mobility over the course of a fully active working life?
- Is greater clarity needed in Member States' legal definitions of employment and self-employment to facilitate bona fide transitions from employment to self-employment and vice versa?
- Is there a need for a "floor of rights" dealing with the working conditions of all workers regardless of the form of their work contract? What, in your view, would be the impact of such minimum requirements on job creation as well as on the protection of workers?
- Do you think the responsibilities of the various parties within multiple employment relationships should be clarified to determine who is accountable for compliance with employment rights? Would subsidiary liability be an effective and feasible way to establish that responsibility in the case of sub-contractors? If not, do you see other ways to ensure adequate protection of workers in "three-way relationships"?
- Is there a need to clarify the employment status of temporary agency workers?
- How could minimum requirements concerning the organization of working time be modified in order to provide greater flexibility for both employers and employees, while ensuring a high standard of protection of workers' health and safety? What aspects of the organization of working time should be tackled as a matter of priority by the Community?
- How can the employment rights of workers operating in a transnational context, including in particular frontier workers, be assured throughout the Community? Do you see a need for more convergent definitions of 'worker' in EU Directives in the interests of ensuring that these workers can exercise their employment rights, regardless of the Member State where they work? Or do you believe that Member States should retain their discretion in this matter?
- Do you think it is necessary to reinforce administrative co-operation between the relevant authorities to boost their effectiveness in enforcing Community labour law? Do you see a role for social partners in such cooperation?
- Do you consider that further initiatives are needed at an EU level to support action by the Member States to combat undeclared work?
Is it a fair consultation? Does anyone here feel a need to participate?