There’s absolutely no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about tremendous change in all areas of our lives. It has forced businesses to redefine the way they do things, and forced governments to adapt to shifting perspectives and values within their communities.
With that said, the EU is quickly looking to completely revamp its workforce by bringing a more progressive, transparent, and balanced approach to the workplace. With new directives set to provide safer and more transparent working conditions, along with a more favorable work-life balance for employees, the EU is bringing the workplace of the future to life right before our very eyes.
In particular, the EU has issued two main directives that will be transposed into national law by August 2022. These new directives will pave the way for clearer and safer working conditions for employees operating within the EU, while also ensuring that employers guarantee their employees fair working hours that cover things like paternity and parental leave, in addition to more flexible working terms. In the wake of the pandemic, it is absolutely critical that businesses and governments begin to rethink the ways in which we sustain our ways of life – and the EU is looking to hit the ground running.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the different ways in which these two new directives will change employee-employer relations moving forward. And while member states have about two years to transpose these new directives into law, things could begin to change much faster than that depending on how quickly member states move to adopt them.
If you’re interested in learning more about what these directives have in store, let’s take a look down below.
Transparent & Predictable Working Conditions Directive
This directive is quite self-explanatory because it simply seeks to provide workers with transparent and predictable working conditions. Essentially, “the directive updates and extends existing EU legislation on written statements for employees. It requires employers to expand the categories of workers who must be provided with a written statement, requiring that it be provided earlier on in the employment relationship, and increase the information contained in the statement.”
Under this directive, employers are now required to abide by the new minimum rights which must be outlined and clearly communicated to workers engaging in a new employer-employee relationship. These rights include zero hour contracts that guarantee workers with the right to work more than three hours per week on average. In addition, workers are guaranteed advanced notice of work for those with unpredictable schedules, as well as compensation for work cancelled on short notice.
As you can see, these new requirements are not designed to hurt businesses – and nor should they. Instead, they simply strive to bolster up a workforce that has been severely damaged by the global economic turmoil that began with Brexit and continues to roar on in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When it comes to employers, “all employers should expect to change their current practices relating to the provision of written statements to employees upon commencing work, as well as ensuring that those working abroad are provided with minimum additional information.”
The EU is also leaving it up to member states to determine what the potential penalties are for businesses and employers that fall out of compliance. Along with improving and enhancing the rights of employees, this new directive is also designed to improve cost efficiency and administration flexibility for employers.
The Work-Life Balance Directive
This has become quite a hot topic in recent years not just in the EU, but in other employee markets around the world. Maternity leave, paternity leave, and parental leave are some of the most critical worker rights that have been transformed in recent years. And now, the EU is looking to launch a new directive designed to cover, “paternity, parental, and carers’ leave, as well as flexible working including: 10 working days’ paternity leave, 4 months’ parental leave, 5 days’ unpaid carers’ leave per year, and a right to request flexible working.”
This is such an important development because the directive essentially guarantees workers that when they need to take time off to deal with family matters, whether it be to raise a family or to care for a sick or otherwise incapacitated family member, they can do so without running the risk of missing a paycheck or losing their employment position.
Slated to be approved and transposed before August of 2022, employers would be required to comply with these new measures and in the meantime, they should review their work-life balance properties to seamlessly transition into this new era once the directive becomes national law. While member states within the EU already offer some of the most comprehensive parental leave protections in the world, the directive is designed to update and enhance the absolute minimum that member states will be required to offer. It also provides employers with some more flexibility in terms of how they can implement the details of the directive over time.
In addition, and just like the previous directive, member states will be given the opportunity to decide exactly how to enforce these new rules, along with how to define the potential penalties for non-compliance.
The Workforce of Tomorrow
The EU is highly poised to dictate the direction of the future as it relates to workers and their rights. With these two new directives, it’s clear to see that a new wave of employer-employee relations will soon emerge as soon as August of 2022.
Be on the lookout for news and updates regarding adoption of these new directives by member states.