Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment
The European Commission has adopted two proposals for Council directives aimed at extending to the UK the two direc...
The European Commission has adopted two proposals for Council directives aimed at extending to the UK the two directives - on european works councils and parental leave - adopted under the protocol on social policy annexed to the Maastricht treaty, which have not to date applied to the UK by virtue of its opt-out of the Social Chapter.

The proposals are the direct result of the decision taken at the Amsterdam Summit last June to incorporate the Social Protocol into the new Treaty, and the decision by the UK Government to sign up to the new Treaty provisions. This effectively ends the UK opt-out, because the UK Government also announced that it was accepting the Directives already adopted under the Agreement on Social Policy. The Commission was asked to submit to the Council the necessary proposals as soon as possible. Once the directives are adopted by the Council, the UK will have two years to transpose their provisions into national legislation, the same period originally granted to the other Member States.

The two proposed directives extend the European Works Council and the Parental Leave Directives to the UK on the basis of Article 100 of the EC Treaty, (that is, as measures aimed at improving the functioning of the Single Market by removing a source of distortion of competition linked to the application of different standards).

The new proposals do not alter the substance of the existing directives, though the extension to the UK of the European Work Councils directive will require some adjustments by the other Member States, given its transnational character.

Commenting on these two proposals, Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner, Padraig Flynn, said, 'I am delighted that the United Kingdom is now firmly back in the European social family. These proposals will help cement this new relationship.'

Background: the European Work Councils and Parental Leave directives

Council Directive 94/45/EC of 22 September 1994, on the establishment of a European Works Council or a procedure in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings for the purposes of informing and consulting employees, was adopted under Article 2 (2) of the Agreement on Social Policy annexed to the Maastricht Treaty. It applies to:

a) undertakings with at least 1000 employees in all the Member States and with at least two establishments in different Member States, each employing at least 150 workers, and

b) groups of undertakings with at least 1 000 employees in all the Member States and with at least two group undertakings in different Member States which each employ at least 150 employees.

It does not apply to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Council Directive 96/34/EC of 3 June 1996 on the framework agreement on parental leave concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC UNICE - Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe

-- CEEP - European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation * ETUC - European Trade Union Confederation was adopted under article 4 (2) of the agreement on social policy annexed to the Maastricht Treaty, with the aim of transposing into EU law the framework agreement concluded by the social partners. The agreement sets out minimum requirements on parental leave (three months unpaid) and time off from work on grounds of force majeure for urgent family reasons, was the first collective agreement at European level autonomously negotiated by the social partners under article 4 (2) of the Agreement on Social Policy. Since then, UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC have concluded a second framework agreement on part-time work, signed on 6 June 1997. On 26 July the Commission adopted a draft Council Directive aimed at giving the new framework agreement full legal force.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.