Commission takes legal proceedings against seven Member States

At the end of July 1999, the Commission decide to launch or pursue proceedings against a number of Member States in relation to their transposition of EU labour legislation. These relate primarily to uneven implementation of the pregnant workers' Directive, the Directive on minimum health and safety requirements applicable to the use of equipment by workers, the transfer of undertakings Directive and Directives on collective redundancies.

The European Commission decided at the end of July 1999 to launch or pursue proceedings against a number of Member States in relation to poor implementation of Community Directives in the social field. This relates particularly to the pregnant workers' Directive (92/85/EEC), the Directive on minimum health and safety requirements applicable to the use of equipment by workers (89/655/EEC), the transfer of undertakings Directive (77/187/EEC, amended by 98/59/EC) and Directives on collective redundancies (now consolidated in 98/59/EC).

The pregnant workers Directive should have been implemented by October 19, 1994. In March 1999, the Commission adopted a report on its implementation (EU9903161N). On the basis of national implementing measures and reports, the Commission has now launched a number of infringement proceedings for incorrect implementation of the Directive. In relation to Sweden, the Commission complained that its legislation does not provide for the minimum two weeks of compulsory maternity leave. The Commission also took objection to Luxembourg's requirement for women to be affiliated to the social security system. In addition, a number of countries operate a general ban on night work by pregnant women without any assessment of whether this form of work is detrimental to their health. Such provisions are considered contrary to the Directive.

Regarding health and safety and work equipment, it was certain provisions in Italy which fell foul of the Commission. Similarly, the Commission found the Italian legislation implementing the transfer of undertakings Directive to fall short of the required provisions in terms of the automatic transfer of staff.

Two reasoned opinions were sent to Ireland and Greece, which were found not to have transposed fully the provisions of the collective redundancies Directive. In Ireland, the problems relate to the concept of "workers' representatives" and their protection, whereas in Greece certain workers are excluded from the provisions of the Directive, which the Commission argues falls foul of EU law.

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