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Successful implementation of the newly adopted Directive on Temporary Agency Work should involve sectoral social partners


12 Feb 2009


Social Europe & Jobs

New Eurofound study reveals an important and growing industry in the EU where sectoral social partners contribute to defining appropriate level of regulation
A new report published by Eurofound reveals that temporary agency work (TAW) is, on the whole, highly regulated across the EU27 with a mix of legislation, collective labour agreements and instruments of self-regulation at national level. However, there are wide variations in what is regulated (e.g. reasons for using TAW, prohibited sectors, maximum length of assignment) and how this regulation is developed and implemented, most notably the role played by social dialogue.
The report examines the role of social dialogue and the importance of collective bargaining in determining working conditions for agency workers, especially with regards to equal treatment. This principle is already implemented in 20 EU member states, however with great diversity and flexibility, through constructive social dialogue.
Coming just weeks after the European Parliament approved the Directive on Temporary Agency Work (2008/104/EC), the study sheds light on both the challenges and opportunities ahead as governments seek to transpose the legislation at national level.
Entitled ‘Temporary agency work and collective bargaining in the EU’[1], the study finds temporary agency work at the heart of the flexicurity debate. Almost all EU member states have been active in seeking ways to reconcile employment protection with employment flexibility through TAW, whether by law, collective bargaining or some combination of both.
 “By working with the social partners in the implementation of the Agency Work Directive, national governments will ensure the correct level of regulation for the sector”, commented Annemarie Muntz, President of Eurociett, the voice for labour choice in Europe. “It will allow those countries with no specific regulation on TAW to establish a proper regulatory framework, while at the same time allowing for unjustified restrictions, such as the public sector ban in France, Belgium and Spain, to be lifted in markets that are over-regulated.”
The study also reviews how TAW is currently used in EU Member States, representing 3.8 million people, generating over €100 billion in revenue and predominantly consisting of young people under 30 years of age. The growth of the industry is driven by both demand and supply-side factors, with companies increasingly turning to TAW for reasons of competitiveness as well as to replace ill or absent staff.
“In the context of the current economic crisis, policy-makers need to ensure that the regulatory framework in place across the EU upholds both workers rights and the growth of the sector, so that business and employees can take full advantage of the job creation offered by the TAW industry,” concludes Annemarie Muntz. “Healthy labour markets need flexibility, implemented in a flexicurity perspective, by the establishment of flexible and reliable contractual arrangements through modern labour laws, collective agreements and work organisation.”
[1] Conducted by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working conditions (Eurofound), via a questionnaire distributed to 28 national centres. The full report can be downloaded at
Note to the editors
As the European Confederation of Private Employment Agencies, Eurociett is the authoritative voice representing the common interests of the agency work industry in Europe. Eurociett is the only business association representing agency work at large (brings together 26 national federations) and in its diversity (uniting six of the largest multinational staffing companies as well as tens of thousands of SMEs). Eurociett is an official social partner for the temporary agency work sector within the framework of the European Social Dialogue.
Eurofound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, is a European Union body, one of the first to be established to work in specialised areas of EU policy. Specifically, it was set up by the European Council (Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1365/75 of 26 May 1975), to contribute to the planning and design of better living and working conditions in Europe.
For further information, please contact:
Denis Pennel
Managing Director of Eurociett
Tel: +32 475 86 75 10 or


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