EC labour directives transposed into national legislation

Early in 2011, the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers supported two draft laws to transpose the requirements of EU directives into national legislation. The law on informing and consulting employees in larger companies was changed to transpose directive 2009/38/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 6 May 2009, and a new labour law was worked out to incorporate legislation on temporary work agencies, redundancies and the employment of illegal immigrants from third countries.

Law on informing and consulting

On 2 February 2011 the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia (MK) supported a draft law on informing and consulting employees in community-scale undertakings and community-scale groups of undertakings. These are companies with at least 1,000 employees within the EU and at least 150 employees in each of at least two Member States.

The draft law was worked out in order to transpose Directive 2009/38/EC of the European Parliament and the European Council of 6 May 2009, which is a revision of Directive 94/45/EC, prescribing how European Works Councils should be set up and the procedure such companies should follow when informing and consulting employees.

In order to transpose the requirements of directive 94/45/EC, the law on informing and consulting employees was adopted on 29 March 2001. It was amended on 24 January 2008 in order to transpose a 2006 Directive (2006/109/EC).

Latvia’s legislation stipulates that a new draft law may not be prepared if more than half the legal norms have been changed, compared to current law. Because the latest directive (2009/38/EC) has many amendments, the government decided to adopt a new law instead of amending existing law.

Amendments to the labour law

On 22 February 2011, the cabinet supported the draft law Amendments to the Labour Law. The draft law was elaborated in order to transpose Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 19 November 2008 concerning temporary work agencies, and Directive 2009/52/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 18 June 2009, which sets forth minimum standards and sanctions against employers who employ third-country nationals residing illegally in Member States.

Latvian legislation allows temporary employment agencies to function and the Labour Law applies to agencies that supply workers who are legally allowed to work. The amendments set forth in greater detail the legal obligations and rights of workers and their employers.

The amendments set forth the rights of third-country nationals who reside in Latvia illegally to receive remuneration. An employer may not hire an immigrant without a valid work permit or who is not in possession of a residence permit. If this regulation is violated, the employer will be held accountable.

In addition to transposing the directives, the amendments to the Labour Law simplify the procedure employers need to follow to lay off workers.

For example, in future, employers have to inform the State Employment Agency (NVA) only in the case of collective redundancies, defined as a set number of dismissals within one 30-day period, depending on the total number of employees in the enterprise:

  • five or more workers if the employer normally employs 20 to 50 people;
  • 10 or more workers if the employer normally employs 50 to 100 people;
  • 10% or more of the total number of employees if the employer normally employs 100 to 300 people, or;
  • at least 30 workers in enterprises of 300 or more employees.

New law has little impact

In Latvian legislation, a temporary work agency is classified as a service that provides manpower. It deals with legal relations whereby an employer signs a contract with an employee in order to temporarily assign the employee to work at another company for its benefit and under its management, to follow its procedures and to obey its regulations. A licence must be obtained by the agency in order to offer manpower services. The procedure for obtaining such a licence is set forth in Regulation No. 458 of the Latvian Republic, adopted on 3 July 2007.

The use of temporary work agencies is not widespread in Latvia. The number of detected illegal immigrants is also not large – between 280 and 350 people per year. Likewise, the number of cases where foreigners have been discovered to be working without a work permit is limited – 174 in 2008 and 29 people in 2009. In 2008, 69 cases of employment without a work contract were recorded, and in 2009, 19 cases. As a result, these new laws have not had a significant effect, with the exception of the regulation that simplifies the laying-off of workers.

Raita Karnite, EPC Ltd.

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