HR European news roundup - November 2011

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A selection of the latest European HR news from the Federation of European Employers (FedEE).

Eastern Europe: Major east-west differences in incidence of part-time work
The number of women working part-time in many eastern European states is substantially below that in many western European states. In 2010, the proportion of female employees working part-time was 2 percent in Bulgaria, 4 percent in Slovakia, 8 percent in Lithuania and 10 percent in Estonia. This compares with 72 percent in the Netherlands, 63 percent in Switzerland and 46 percent in Germany.

EU: One in five part-time workers underemployed
New figures from the EU statistical office (Eurostat), show that in 2010 there were 41.3 million people in part-time employment across the EU, three quarters of which were women. 21 percent of those employed part-time were underemployed (because they wish to work more hours and were available to do so). The largest proportion of those wanting to work longer hours were in Latvia (65 percent), Greece (49 percent), Spain (46 percent) and Bulgaria (39 percent).

France: Blue card scheme introduced
France has enacted the necessary legislation to complete the Blue Card immigration scheme. Further provisions relating to scientists and interns are due to come into force in January 2012. The scheme requires that applicants must be graduates (or equivalent) with either a three-year advanced degree or five years' experience in a relevant professional field. They must also be in possession of a French employment contract of at least one year's duration. A minimum salary of at least 1.5 times the French median salary is also required.

France: Exception to burqa ban
French airline crews have no right to tell women to remove burqas whilst aboard Air France flights, according to the airline's interpretation of the French law banning full face veils in public places. Passengers can be ordered to remove the garment while waiting in French airports, but once on board they are free to replace it. The internal memo added that the law may only be enforced by police and other public officials when the passenger is on the ground. 

Germany: Tighter controls on use of agency workers
The German law on the hiring of agency workers is due to change from December 2011.
Currently, the hiring of temporary workers in Germany requires the agency to hold an employee leasing licence. This requirement also applies to the cross-border provision of agency labour from or into Germany. There were a number of exceptions to this rule, but these are set to be abolished with effect from next month.
It should also be noted that intra-group company transfers and secondments which have not been subject to the new licensing requirement will remain excluded, providing the group company supplying the workers does not have the primary purpose of operating as an agency.

Italy, Malta, Portugal: Errant states
Italy, Malta and Portugal have not yet complied with the blue card immigration Directive - even though the deadline for implementation expired on June 19th 2011. The Directive establishes a fast-track admission procedure for highly qualified foreign workers from outside the European Union.

The European Commission has recently sent each country government a reasoned opinion requiring them to take steps to implement the Directive within the next two months or face a possible European Court of Justice action.

Luxembourg: Limiting access to unemployment benefits
The European Commission has informed Luxembourg that it must end its practice of denying unemployment benefits to those receiving a pension from another member state. According to the Commission, this prevents workers from exercising their full right to free movement between member states. Luxembourg now has two months to inform the Commission of the measures taken to align its legislation with EU law.

 Netherlands: Border to remain closed for a further two years
The Dutch Cabinet has decided that the domestic labour market will not be opened up to Bulgarian or Romanian workers until January 2014. This is largely because there are currently between 286,000 and 325,000 people employed in the Netherlands who are nationals of an eastern European country - even though there are over 500,000 unemployed Dutch workers on benefits who are fit to work.

Netherlands: Loans to attend mandatory integration courses
New immigrants to the Netherlands from outside the European Economic Area must now meet the costs of attending mandatory integration courses.

Until now the cost has been wholly or partly met by local councils. However, in future, these will be met by the immigrants themselves. The Home Affairs Ministry will, however, provide loans to immigrants in order for them to undertake the courses. Loans of up to 10,000 will be available for asylum seekers and up to 5,000 euros for those moving to the Netherlands to join a partner or family member. Immigrants who fail to pass the written tests within three years will automatically lose their residency permit.

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Switzerland: Vote to establish highest minimum wage in the world
The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB) claims that it has secured sufficient signatures under the Swiss constitution to require the holding of a referendum on the establishment of a national minimum wage. The proposal for a monthly wage of 4,000 francs (3250.43 euros) is based on a 42-hour work week. This will be equivalent to an hourly rate of 21.98 francs (17.86 euros) - a rate that would destabilize and possibly destroy the Swiss economy.


  © Copyright: FedEE Services Ltd 2011 

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