Commission adopts draft Directive on part-time work
In July 1997, following the adoption of a framework agreement on part-time work by the European social partners, the European Commission agreed a proposal for a Directive aimed at transposing the agreement into European law.
On 23 July 1997, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive to transpose the social partners' framework agreement on part-time work into European law. The agreement was signed on 6 June 1997 by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE) and the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP) (EU9706131F). This is the second time that an agreement reached by the European social partners has been submitted to the Council for adoption, following the European framework agreement on parental leave (a Directive to implement which was adopted in June 1996). The aims of the new agreement are to prevent discrimination against part-time workers and to facilitate the development of part-time work at Member State level.
Padraig Flynn, the Commissioner responsible for industrial relations, employment and social affairs, highlighted the importance of the proposal for the current European employment strategy. He argued that the Directive would "improve working conditions throughout Europe and bring greater flexibility to the labour market". Part-time work is perceived as one of the essential factors in promoting employment and equal opportunities for women and men.
The proposed Directive sets out the general principles and minimum requirements relating to part-time work, leaving leeway for Member States to introduce or keep more favourable provisions. The draft is limited to making the provisions of the agreement concluded between the social partners legally binding and is based on Article 4(2) of the Agreement on Social Policy annexed to the Social Policy Protocol of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the Communication concerning the application of the Agreement on Social Policy, the text of the agreement is not incorporated in the proposal, but is annexed to it. If the Council amends the agreement concluded between the social partners, the Commission will exercise its right to withdraw the proposal. The deadline for implementation in the Member States will be two years after adoption of the Directive by the Council, with an extra year if this is necessary to take account of special difficulties, or if implementation is to be by collective agreement.
The proposal will now be forwarded to the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, to allow them to deliver their opinions.