The deadline for EU Member States to amend their local laws in order to comply with EU Directive 2019/1152 on transparent and predictable working conditions is August 1, 2022. Here’s what employers with workers in Europe need to know.

What does the Directive say?

The stated purpose of the Directive is to “improve working conditions by promoting more transparent and predictable employment while ensuring labor market adaptability.” It seeks to achieve this by extending employers’ obligations to provide information about various aspects of the employment relationship.

The Directive contains a list of information that employees will be entitled to receive before or at the beginning of their employment to be aware of the applicable working conditions and rights, such as:

  • rights to paid leave;
  • training entitlements;
  • remuneration, including basic and other component elements, with details of frequency and payment methods;
  • the procedure for termination of employment, including formal requirements and notice periods.

The information has to be provided to the employee individually, in the form of one or more documents. Some of it has to be supplied during the first week of employment; the rest must be provided within one month of the first working day. The same information must be also given to existing employees, if they request it. The information can be provided by way of reference to relevant legislation and collective agreements.

Additional information obligations apply if an employee is seconded to another country for a period of at least four consecutive weeks.

On an ongoing basis, the Directive also requires that when there is a change to any aspect of the employment relationship that is within the scope of the list of information mentioned above, employees must be informed in writing before the change takes effect.

Note: besides the new information obligations discussed in this alert, the Directive also contains substantive provisions on certain minimum requirements for working conditions (such as trial periods: these will normally be limited to six months), “parallel employment” (companies will not be allowed to restrict staff from undertaking other employment outside their working hours, unless a specific justification applies), predictability of work patterns, and requests for transition to another form of employment (staff who ask for more predictable and secure working conditions will be entitled to a written reasoned reply).

Do employers in Europe need to take action?

Some countries, such as Germany, have already adopted implementing laws that significantly amend the existing rules and in certain cases introduce stricter requirements than those imposed by the Directive (eg, there is an obligation for German employers to provide staff with the mandatory information in a document signed by the employer in “wet ink,” even though the Directive says that the information should be provided “on paper or, provided that the information is accessible to the worker, that it can be stored and printed, and that the employer retains proof of transmission or receipt, in electronic form”).

In other countries, such as France and Italy, the implementing legislation is still under discussion, but based upon the draft bills published so far, it is expected that the changes to existing rules will be minor. This is because these States’ local laws already comply with many of the Directive’s requirements (eg, Italian employers are already obliged to inform employees in writing of the length of the probationary period before the beginning of the employment).

With the implementation deadline looming, employers in Europe are advised to review their employment contract templates in order to ensure compliance for new hires, and to consider adopting a separate information notice (so that the required information can be delivered and updated without it becoming contractualized) .

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