New European observatory on cross-border temporary agency work

On 4 December 2009, the social partners in the field of temporary agency work launched a new Observatory on cross-border temporary agency work. The Observatory is the outcome of more than a year’s discussions between the social partners. It is also a response to the directive on temporary agency work. Through the Observatory, the social partners intend to monitor and review cross-border activities involving temporary agency staff.

Social partners set up observatory

In a Joint Declaration (43Kb PDF) on 28 May 2008, in response to the proposed directive on working conditions for temporary agency workers, the European sectoral social partners for temporary agency work made reference to their joint work programme 2008–2009. This programme committed them to devoting special attention to the implementation of Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services and to setting up a European Observatory on cross-border activities within temporary agency work. Consequently, Union Network International-Europa (UNI-Europa) and the European Confederation of Private Employment Agencies (Eurociett) launched the Observatory on 4 December 2009 (press release (31Kb PDF)) on the basis of an agreement (484Kb PDF) signed on 3 December 2009.


The Observatory aims to provide the social partners with an ongoing analysis of the cross-border movement of workers and companies in the field of temporary agency work, with a special focus on the impact of the implementation of the posted workers directive and Directive 2008/104/EC on temporary agency work (EU0811029I, EU0807049I, EU0806029I, EU0802019I).

More specifically, the Observatory is designed to support the work of the social partners with a mandate based on the following tasks:

  • carrying out research and data collection;
  • reviewing existing regulations;
  • ensuring a better understanding of the reality of cross-border activities within temporary agency work;
  • gathering and analysing good and bad practices with regard to cross-border activities;
  • preparing practical information tools for temporary work agencies and temporary agency workers wishing to work abroad.


The social partner agreement states that the Observatory is a bipartite sectoral platform that will work under the authority and control of the two social partners to support the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee in the implementation of its work programme and activities.

The Observatory is steered by an expert group of members of the two social partner organisations, comprising up to five people from each European social partner – nominated by national affiliations of the two organisations – in addition to two representatives from their secretariats, together with researchers and external experts working in the field. It is considered as an ‘innovative and concrete European tool’.

Reactions of social partners

Eurociett’s President, Annemarie Muntz, describes the Observatory as a new tool

aimed at helping temporary work agencies that wish to assign workers abroad to better understand the legal framework in the EU, especially with regards to the implementation of the Posting of Workers Directive.

On behalf of UNI-Europa, its Regional Secretary, Bernadette Ségol, stated that the Observatory

has been launched as a means by which to provide workers and agencies with guidance before choosing working abroad and to support them during their cross-border assignments. It will help them in the fight against unfair practices, with the aim of preventing and denouncing them.

Sonia McKay, Working Lives Research Institute

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