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Terms and conditions of employment


Terms and conditions of employment are those matters that define the essential aspects of the contract of employment or employment relationship. As an indication of what is covered by terms and conditions, Article 3 of Council Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers lists:

  • maximum work periods and minimum rest periods;
  • minimum paid annual leave;
  • minimum rates of pay, including overtime rates;
  • conditions of hiring out workers, in particular the supply of workers by temporary employment undertakings;
  • health, safety and hygiene at work;
  • protective measures with regard to the terms and conditions of employment of pregnant women or women who have recently given birth, of children and of young people;
  • equality of treatment between men and women and other provisions of non-discrimination.

Such terms can be determined by law or by collective agreement. Employers have an obligation, under Council Directive 91/533/EEC of 14 October 1991, to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or other employment relationship in relation to:

  • identities of the parties;
  • place of work;
  • title, grade, nature or category of the work for which the employee is employed or a brief specification or description of the work;
  • initial amount and frequency of pay;
  • date of commencement of the contract of employment or employment relationship, and its expected duration in the case of fixed-term work;
  • length of the employee’s normal working day or week;
  • information on paid leave and periods of notice, should the employee’s contract or employment relationship be terminated.

In the Explanatory Memorandum accompanying its initial proposal (COM (90) 563 final, Brussels, 8 January 1991, 555Kb PDF), the Commission stated its aim:

The proposal for a directive has as its objective the creation of an instrument to make employers responsible for providing precise information on the nature and content of working relationships in the company. To this end, it makes provision for an obligation to provide all workers covered by this directive with a document setting out the details of the conditions and elements of their employment relationships with their employer. Finally, the proposal provides for employees to be informed by their employers of any substantial changes affecting their working conditions as described in the written declaration.

Where appropriate, the employer must also inform the worker of ‘the collective agreements governing the employee’s conditions of work’ or ‘in the case of collective agreements concluded outside the business by special joint bodies or institutions, the name of the competent body or joint institution within which the agreements were concluded’.

See also: child labour; contract of employment; equality between women and men; health and safety; temporary agency work; women in the labour market.


Please note: the European industrial relations dictionary is updated annually. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them.
Page last updated: 30 November, 2010