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ARAMT NEWSLETTER The 30th of January 2012

The Romanian Association of Temporary Work Agents
Motto: “One of the aims of the European labour market flexisecurity policy, along with the protection of the interests of employees, is improvement of legal guarantees for the freedom of employers to recruit and use the workforce they need” (Blanpain, 2011).
This event was organized by Foundation EurActiv and hosted by MEP Pervenche Beres. It was made possible with support from EuroCiett.
The recovery from the financial and economic crisis has been sluggish in most of Europe, and the 75% employment rate target that the European Union has pledged to reach by 2020 appears to be out of reach.
While some member states struggle with joblessness, the Germand and Swedish economies are roaring ahead — some say towards full employment. Is there a recipe out of the employment crisis? What can EU member states learn from one another?
Participating in this debate were:
- Jean-Louis de Brouwer, Director Employment, Lisbon Strategy and International Affairs at DG Employment, European Commission;
- Pervenche Beres, Chairperson of the employment and social affairs committee at the European Parliament and MEP;
- Annemarie Muntz, President of Eurociett;
- Liliane Volozinskis, Director, Social Policy and Vocational Training Committee at UEAPME.
More of this event at:


On 9 December, the Sussex European Institute (SEI) hosted a one-day ESRC-sponsored workshop
examining the consequences of labour market reforms in Europe. The workshop was organized by
SEI-based RCUK fellow Dr Sabina Avdagic as part of her ESRC First Grant on the causes and consequences of national variation in employment protection legislation.
The workshop started with two comparative papers that assessed the effects of labour market
reforms. The first paper, by Klaus Armingeon (University of Berne) and Lucio Baccaro (University of Geneva), examined whether liberalizing reforms undertaken in Western Europe since 1980 have produced beneficial results in terms of economic growth, employment and unemployment.
The second presentation by Dr Avdagic focused on 32 EU and OECD countries and examined
whether employment protection legislation (EPL) is responsible for high aggregate unemployment
and youth unemployment,and whether EPL liberalization is beneficial. Using different data and econometric techniques, both papers reached a similar conclusion that labour market liberalization alone is not a magic solution.
One of the key findings suggests that EPL is not a key culprit of unemployment, and that therefore
government efforts to tackle unemployment by liberalizing employment protection alone may
well be futile attempts.
The next two papers focused on the consequences of labour market reforms in Germany and Poland.
Werner Eichhorst (IZA, Bonn) discussed how the German success in increasing employment
rates over the last two decades has been accompanied with growing inequality and increasing
divisions between well-protected 'insiders' with regular employment contracts and the more vulnerable 'outsiders' subject to non-standard forms of employment.
Catherine Spieser (Centre d'etudes de l'emploi, France) then discussed labour market reforms in Poland, focusing on the extent to which the recent fall in unemployment can be attributed to the increasing use of flexible, non-standard work or to emigration.
At the end of the workshop, Dr Avdagic concluded:
"The view that wide-ranging reforms are needed to address Europe's poor labour market perfor performance has become widely accepted among scholars and policy makers alike.
As a result, most European economies have experienced intense reform activity over the last two decades. While the type and scope of reforms differ across countries and over time, the common denominator has been a move from standard forms of employee protection to the maximization of labour force participation."

Krasimira Sredkova, Professor, Dr, Head of the Labour and Social Insurance Law Department
Faculty of Law, St. Clement of Ohrid University of Sofia argues that the most significant amendment to the legal regulation of working time in Bulgaria, entered along with the amendments to the Labour Code back in 2001, is the opportunity provided for extension of the working day. Flexibility is a benefit to the employer. Firstly, it is demonstrated in the grounds for extending the working day. It is defined in Art. 136a, para. 1 of the Labour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria as the reasons relevant for the production process. These are the circumstances objectively linked to the per¬formance of the usual activity of the employer – a large number of orders, the need to comply with a specific market situation, etc. The determination is made by the employer in each particular case. Secondly, the scope of the extension of the working day must be mentioned. This could refer to the entire enterprise or to an individual unit thereof.
Finally, the autho¬rity of employers to extend the working day proves that flexibility is a benefit to the employer. It is their entitlement under the employment relationship. It is settled out-of-court – by a unilateral expression of intent of the employer, objectified in a written order (Art. 136a, para.1, item 1 in the Labour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria). Such an order should be issued not later than 3 days prior to the introduction of the extended working day and be communicated to employees. Issuing such an order presumes the fulfilment of two important obligations on behalf of the employer: 1) One of these is to consult the representatives of employees and of the trade unions (Art. 136a, para.1, item 1, Labour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria). During consultations, the employer should bring to the knowledge of employees the specific reasons for the extension of the working day, look for other ways to meet the production requirements together with them, with the range of people who would be affected by the extended working day, etc. 2) The other obligation is to notify the labour inspectorate (Art. 136a, para.1, item 2 in the Labour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria). In the notification, the employer should indicate the grounds for extending working time, the employees for whom this regime is established, the opinion of the representatives of employees, and other circumstances of significance to the authority controlling the labour inspectorate. It should be noted that the Bulgarian legislation is quite liberal in that respect – it requires merely to notify the Labour Inspectorate. A number of foreign countries (e.g. Denmark, Italy, France and others) require not only prior notification, but also a permission by the control authorities.
Employers may exercise their entitlement to extend the working time, inas¬much as they observe the requirements stipulated in legislation. The require¬ments are related to security for employees which is expressed in a number of guarantees of their rights when changing the duration of working time. These guarantees refer to:
1) the method of calculation of working time. The extension may be allo¬wed only under the conditions of calculating the working time by day, and not in the summarised manner (Art. 136a, para.1 and 4 in the La¬bour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria);
2) the maximum duration of the working day. It is limited by means of two legal and technical methods. One method is the fixed limit for the total duration of the working day – 10 hours. This is the common limit adopted by other countries as well, e. g. Germany, Italy, etc. The other legal and technical method is the fixed limit of the time which is to extend the regular working day – 1 hour over the reduced working day;
3) the maximum number of extended working days. There must be up to 60 such days throughout a calendar year (Art. 136a, para. 3 in the Labour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria).
This legislative decision is justified by the circumstance that the extended working day does not only change the normal duration of working time of employees, but also changes their entire living time budget. Besides, the idea of the ex¬tended working day is related to some unusual situation deviating from the regular working rhythm, which should not last for too long. Similar are the solutions provided in the Netherlands (3 months a year), Greece (120 hours a year) and other countries;
4) the sequence of extended working days. In order to prevent excessive workload for employees and disturbance of their general rhythm of not only work, but also personal and social life, the extension could not be maintained for a period longer than 20 consecutive working day. Since the extension of working days creates a risk of over¬fatigue, disturbs the usual rhythm of life of the employees, impedes the performance of other duties not linked to the work process, the law establishes a special protection for certain categories of more socially disadvantaged employees. These are the employees for whom over¬time is not allowed (Art. 136a, para.6, in conjunction with Art.147, in the Labour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria) – those under the age of 18 years, pregnant women, mothers with children aged up to 6, etc. (Mruchkov et al., 2009);
5) compensation for the extension of working time. It is achieved by re¬spectively reducing the duration of the working day during other work¬ing days. The time period for the compensation may not be longer than 4 months. In case employers do not observe their obligations regarding compensation, employees are entitled to do it by themselves, by notify¬ing the employers 2 weeks in advance (Art. 136a, para.1 and 4 in the La¬bour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria). Cash compensation is allowed only in the event of termination of the employment relationship;
6) recording of the extended working time. Similarly to overtime arrange¬ments, it is done in a special book (Art. 136a, para. 2, item 2 in the Labour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria). The obligation to keep this book lies with employers. They should appoint a special official to enter data into the book.

Based on the points indicated above, one might conclude that the admissi¬bility of extending the working day is a good opportunity for a more flexible or¬ganisation of work. It is manifestation of the general constitutional requirement to encourage economic initiatives (Art. 19, Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria). This opportunity should be supported, however, by paying extreme attention and care to prevent the risk of its abuse via unjustified extension of working time, untimely compensation, etc.
Attention to and understanding of needs of employers, alongside with care for the interests of employees, should be demonstrated mainly by their representatives, who are consulted on the ex-tension in advance (Świątkowski, 2010). The same applies to trade unions. And what is particularly important, the labour inspectorate should be proactive in its control activities. It is in this way only – with the joint effort of social partners and the government control authority – that the good intention of this opportunity, namely, serving production interests for the common good of both employers and employees, could be achieved.

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