Agency Work: a Comparative Analysis

Silvia Spattini


The purpose of the paper is to provide an overview of agency work within the European Union. To this end, a detailed analysis of the regulatory framework at the EU level is provided in the beginning - i.e. the European Directive on Agency Work – which for the first time introduced the principle of equal treatment for this category of workers. Thereafter, agency workers’ employability and restrictions and prohibition on the use of agency work are closely discussed. Drawing on this analysis, a survey on different national regulations is supplied, which includes all 27 EU Member States yet focusing on France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. In this connection, the paper explores restrictions on market entry, the presence of a licensing system, and the characteristics of contractual relationships in the agency work sector, either the commercial contracts between agencies and users and the employment contracts between agencies and workers. The concluding section of the paper sets its sights on such issues as rights and obligations of both agencies and users, the legal status of agency workers and the consequences in terms of remuneration and equal treatment, collective rights and collective bargaining and, finally, on sanctions in case of non-compliance on the part of agencies and user undertakings in the foregoing countries.

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