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Europe – EU threatens Sweden & Cyprus over AWD failure

22 June 2012

The European Commission yesterday “requested” Cyprus and Sweden to enforce the European Agency Worker Directive (AWD) into their law as both countries have failed to stick to the official deadline which expired in December 2011.

The Commission said that the AWD “guarantees a minimum level of protection to temporary agency workers while supporting the positive role played by temporary agency work by providing flexibility in the labour market.”

But in Sweden and Cyprus it is still unclear when the process of implementing the AWD will be completed although the countries are in the process of doing so. The Commission criticised the two countries for their late response saying, “as a result temporary agency workers in Sweden and Cyprus may be denied the guaranteed working conditions to which they are entitled under the Directive.”

The Association of Swedish Staffing Agencies has already complained to the EU Commission over the Government’s failure to “manage the transposition of the AWD”, as they told Staffing Industry Analysts in March.  

The countries are now given two months to respond to the official request under the so-called “'reasoned opinion” part of EU infringement procedures. Cyprus and Sweden will have to notify the Commission what exact measures they have taken to implement the Directive as failure to do so may land both countries in the EU's Court of Justice.

The Commission said that the official figure of temporary agency workers in the EU exceeds three million and the AWD therefore “defines a general framework for the working conditions” on the equal treatment principle. The AWD also sets out an obligation for EU States to review existing prohibitions and restrictions imposed on the use of temporary agency work, which can only be justified on grounds of “general interest”.

In January the Commission already warned 15 EU countries that had not implemented the Directive by the deadline. Of these “infringement cases”, seven have been resolved including Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal.  These infringement cases “may be closed in the near future”, the EU said.

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