The use of temporary employees is not a new concept in Europe. While there are great disparities across European Member nations in terms of labor statistics, contingent workers – referred to as fixed-term contract workers – are an essential component of nearly all EU countries. Overall, 14% of EU workers were contingent. In Poland, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, that number exceeded 20%. Each country’s use of contingent workers is reflective of national practices, labor supply and demand, employer assessments of the volatility of the economy, and the country’s regulations regarding their use. While most businesses in the European Union operate on the premise that having a flexible workforce is an imperative which helps them stay competitive, the EU has also enacted some laws which limit the use of temporary contracts so that those who want permanent jobs are able to do so.
Until now, the countries of the European Union have established their own regulations governing employment contracts. Some legislation was passed to protect the rights of non-employees, while other laws were aimed at discouraging the practice of engaging temporary workers rather than creating permanent positions.
Beleaguered by long-term unemployment and economic difficulties, the European Union has introduced new regulations to restrict the adoption of contingent work programs and to ensure that employment contracts are permanent.
In some quarters, these reforms are seen to have a positive effect as they act as a protection to vulnerable workers. But the same laws are also viewed as detrimental to professional temporary workers who operate as independent contractors, taking on assignments across the continent. The EU expects that, as Europe’s economy improves, flexible working practices will allow employers to gain access to talent, as and when they need it while uniform legislation will offer superior working conditions for professionals seeking work.
We ask you to weigh in. Will the ruling of the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union foster economic growth while protecting the rights of fixed-term workers, or will it stymie the growth in contingent labor usage?
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