EU Level: Latest working life developments Q4 2018
European Parliament backing for the transparent and predictable working conditions directive , a proposal for a new European Labour Authority and advances in the fight against carcinogens are the main topics of interest in this article. This update reports on the latest developments in working life in the European Union in the fourth quarter of 2018.
European Parliament backs transparent and predictable working conditions directive
On 26 October 2018, the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee adopted a report on the proposal for a directive on transparent and predictable working conditions, with minor changes. These included deleting a sentence allowing Member States to make those who work less than 8 hours a month exempt from the directive’s obligations. The committee also deleted the given definition of ‘workers’, allowing national definitions to apply instead.
On 15 November, the European Parliament accepted the report and voted to move on to the next stage of the legislative process (the trilogue procedure). The future directive will establish minimum rights that apply to every worker in the EU and it will be up to Member States to ensure that everyone covered by the directive can make effective use of those rights within the framework of national law or practice, including collective agreements.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) thanked the European Parliament for voting on the directive and called on the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU to allow enough time for the directive to be agreed in trilogue negotiations between EU institutions. 
No reactions from European employer organisations had been reported by the end of the fourth quarter of 2018.
- European Parliament: Report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union
- European Parliament: Committee report tabled for plenary, 1st reading/single reading
- VoteWatch Europe: Transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union: Vote details
European Labour Authority takes shape
On 6 December, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council agreed a general approach to a proposal for a regulation on establishing a European Labour Authority (ELA). The aim of the regulation, proposed by the Commission in March 2018, is to create a new body that supports Member States in the implementation of EU legislation in the fields of cross-border labour mobility and social security coordination, including the free movement of workers, posting of workers and highly mobile services. The ELA would not prevent Member States from applying and enforcing relevant EU legislation, their own systems of industrial relations and their national labour laws.
The majority of Member States were in favour of the proposal to call this new agency the 'European Labour Agency', particularly as this would reflect the fact that the ELA's role would be limited to supporting the Member States.
The European Parliament adopted its own proposal on 11 December, adding amendments that the aim of the ELA should be to ‘improve access to information by individuals and employers, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), about their rights and obligations in the areas of labour mobility, free movement of services and social security coordination’ in order to tap into the full potential of the internal market. The final shape of the new institution will be agreed during the trilogue process.
- Council of the EU: Outcome of the Council meeting: Brussels, 6 and 7 December 2018
- European Parliament: Report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Labour Authority
- VoteWatch Europe: Establishing a European Labour Authority: Vote details
European Parliament tightens rules on carcinogens in the workplace
On 11 December, the plenary of the European Parliament adopted stricter rules in order to further reduce carcinogens and mutagens in the workplace.
To protect some 3.6 million workers in the EU who are potentially exposed to diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEE), the European Parliament included diesel fumes in the scope of the new rules and in setting a corresponding exposure limit value. A further seven carcinogens were also included for the first time.
The new rules should further lower the risk of workers getting cancer, which remains the primary cause of work-related deaths across the EU. Trilogue negotiations started in May 2018 and an agreement was reached in October 2018.
Alongside this, a second Commission proposal on introducing new limit values addressing inhalation exposure for an additional five substances was confirmed by the European Parliament on 30 November and by the European Council on 6 December.
- European Parliament Think Tank: Protecting workers against carcinogens and mutagens: Second proposal
- VoteWatch Europe: Protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work: Vote details
- European Parliament – Legislative Train Schedule: Third proposal amending the carcinogens and mutagens directive (‘CMD3’)
European social partner UEAPME defines new name and priorities
At its Extraordinary General Assembly on 6 November, the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (UEAPME) officially changed its name to SMEunited.  It also formulated 10 priorities in its memorandum for the 2019 European elections. The priority in the field of social progress states that crafts and SMEs are the main source of job creation and the main contributor to a social Europe. However, they need well-performing labour markets and well-designed welfare systems to further ensure economic and social progress. 
SMEunited declared that as a European social partner, it will further contribute to strengthening social dialogue and foster its role in the labour market reform process for economic and social progress.