a) The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
Article 27 of the Charter gives every worker the right to be guaranteed information and consultation in good time and at the appropriate levels, in the cases and under the conditions provided for by Union law and national laws and practices. Article 30 of the Charter lays down the right for every worker to be protected against unjustified dismissal, in accordance with Union law and national laws and practices. Article 47 of the Charter guarantees everyone whose rights and freedoms guaranteed by Union law are violated the right to an effective remedy.
b) The legislative powers and their limits
According to Article 153(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Union is empowered to adopt measures to support and complement the activities of Member States in the fields of working conditions, protection of workers where their employment contract is terminated and information and consultation of workers. Directives adopted on the basis of Article 153 TFEU shall avoid imposing administrative, financial and legal constraints in a way which would hold back the creation and development of small and medium-sized undertakings.
c) Existing measures
Council Directive 91/533/EEC(56) (the Written Statement Directive) gives workers the right to be notified in writing of the essential aspects of their employment relationship, at the latest two months after the employment started. It does not contain specific obligations in relation to probation periods. The Written Statement Directive requires an employer to notify an employee of the length of the periods of notice to be observed should their contract or employment relationship be terminated or, where this cannot be indicated at the time when the information is given, the method for determining such periods of notice.
Directive 2001/23/EC(57), which regulates workers' rights in the case of transfer of undertakings, stipulates that the transfer of an undertaking does not in itself constitute valid grounds for dismissal. Council Directive 92/85/EEC(58) on maternity protection and the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by social partners (BusinessEurope, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC) – annexed to Council Directive 2010/18/EU(59) – provide, respectively, specific protection against dismissal for women during their pregnancy and for parents taking paternity or adoption leave. Council Directive 2000/78/EC(60) (the Employment Equality Directive) on equal treatment in employment and occupation protects workers against dismissal where there is discrimination on a prohibited ground, including victimisation. Protection against dismissal and unfavourable treatment is also provided under EU law through the Part-time Work Directive(61), the Gender Equality Directive,(62) the Directive on equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity(63) and the Parental Leave Directive,(64) and has been reinforced by the case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU.
Council Directive 98/59/EC(65) on collective redundancies requires employers to inform and consult workers' representatives and to notify public authorities prior to collective redundancies.
The Council Recommendation of 10 March 2014 on a Quality Framework for Traineeships(66) aims to enhance the quality of traineeships, providing quality elements that are directly transferable to national legislation or social partner agreements. They relate in particular to learning content, working conditions, and transparency regarding financial conditions and hiring practices.
(56) Council Directive 91/533/EEC of 14 October 1991 on an employer’s obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employment relationship, OJ L 288, 18.10.1991, p.32.
(57) Council Directive 2001/23/EC of 12 March 2001 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the safeguarding of employees' rights in the event of transfers of undertakings, businesses or parts of undertakings or businesses, OJ L 82, 22.3.2001, p.6.
(58) Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding, OJ L 348 of 28.11.1992, p. 1.
(59) Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8 March 2010 implementing the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC, OJ L68, 18.3.2010, p.13.
(60) Other EU anti-discrimination directives (such as Directive 2006/54/EC or Directive 2000/43/EC) also provide specific protection against unfair dismissal.
(61) Council Directive 97/81/EC of 15 December 1997 concerning the Framework Agreement on part-time work concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC, OJ L14, 20.1.1998, p.9.
(62) Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the Principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(63) Directive 2010/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on the application of the Principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity, OJ L 180, 15.7.2010, p.1.
(64) Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8 March 2010 implementing the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC and repealing Directive 96/34/EC, OJ L 68, 18.3.2010, p. 13.
(65) Council Directive 98/59/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies, OJ L 225, 12.08.1998, p. 16.
(66) Council Recommendation of 10 March 2014 on a Quality Framework for Traineeships, OJ C 88, 27.3.2014, p. 1.