The EU Pensions Directive, first proposed over 10 years ago, finally came into effect in September 2003. The directive aims to pave the way for pension schemes to operate, and be managed, across EU borders - an attractive proposition to multinational companies due to the potential for cost savings and simplified administration.
The decisive factor in determining whether the Acquired Rights Directive results in a 'relevant transfer' of employees on a contracting-out is whether there is a stable economic entity which retains its identity. In considering whether an entity retains its identity, a distinction is made between 'asset-reliant' and 'labour-intensive' entities.
In June 2003 the EU-level social partners agreed a joint text on socially intelligent restructuring, which provides companies with a set of guidelines to follow in order to ensure successful change management. Key recommendations include good-quality, timely and open communications, and developing workers' skills and qualifications.
The European Court of Justice has ruled that all on-call duty performed by a doctor required to be present in a hospital constitutes 'working time' for the purposes of the Working Time Directive. This will be the case even where the doctor sleeps at the hospital when his services are not required, and periods of sleep or inactivity do not amount to rest periods.
The European Commission is planning a draft directive on data protection in the workplace in 2004 or 2005. Its proposals include a general European framework on the processing of medical data, and limits on the use of data resulting from drug and genetic testing.