European Parliament gives qualified support to part-time agreement

In October 1997, the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs adopted a report on the social partners' June 1997 framework agreement on part-time work, which gives qualified support to the agreement. The report criticises the fact that the agreement is limited to part-time workers and argues that its provisions fall short of existing ILO standards.

The European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs adopted a report in October 1997 on the framework agreement on part-time work concluded by the European-level social partners on 6 June 1997 (EU9706131F). The agreement is currently being given legal force via a draft Council Directive (EU9707139N) The Committee's report expresses the European Parliament's support for enshrining the principle of non-discrimination against part-time workers in legislation, but criticises the fact that the agreement is limited to part-time work and does not cover other forms of "atypical" employment. The agreement also excludes social security matters which, it argues, need to be covered by legislation. In this respect the agreement falls short of the standards enshrined in International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. The report argues that, without such a basis, the agreement allows exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of "technical" or "objective" reasons, such as part-time workers who work only on a casual basis, or who do not qualify because of certain thresholds based on length of service, working time and salary conditions.

The Committee believes that the agreement can mark only the beginning of the institution of the legal instruments required in order gradually to remove discrimination against people working in atypical forms of employment. As it stands, the Committee argues that the agreement does not fulfil the objective of eradicating discrimination against part-time workers, not does it render part-time work more attractive.

The report also criticises the formula for decision making under the social policy Agreement annexed to the Treaty on European Union which, it is argued, only generates framework agreements on the lowest common denominator.

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