Category Archives: Employment rights and work organisation

The European Union has minimum requirements in the field of labour rights and work organisation. These requirements concern collective redundancies, insolvency and the transfer of undertakings, the consultation and information of workers, working hours, equal treatment and pay, and posted workers. They have been supplemented by framework agreements between the European social partners. This has led to the introduction throughout the EU of the right to parental leave and leave for family reasons, and has facilitated part-time work and limited the use of successive fixed-term contracts. Lastly, the concept of corporate social responsability encourages businesses to adopt good practices in the social field on a voluntary basis. The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions makes recommendations to the political decision-makers.

Collective redundancies

Collective redundancies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Collective redundancies

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Collective redundancies

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 98/59/EC of 20 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies.

Summary

The Directive shall not apply to:

  • collective redundancies effected under contracts of employment concluded for limited periods of time or for specific tasks except where such redundancies take place prior to the date of expiry or the completion of such contracts;
  • workers employed by public administrative bodies or by establishments governed by public law;
  • the crews of seagoing vessels.

Consultations

Any employer contemplating collective redundancies must hold consultations with the workers’ representatives with a view to reaching an agreement. These consultations shall, at least, cover ways and means of avoiding collective redundancies or reducing the number of workers affected, and of mitigating the consequences by recourse to accompanying social measures aimed at redeploying or retraining those workers made redundant.

Information to be provided by the employer

The Directive lays down that Member States may make provision for workers’ representatives to call on the services of experts in accordance with measures in force at national level. The employer is to provide workers’ representatives with all relevant information during the course of the consultations and, in any event, is to notify them of the following in writing:

  • the reasons;
  • the period during which redundancies are to be effected;
  • the number and category of workers normally employed;
  • the number to be made redundant;
  • the criteria used to select those workers to be made redundant;
  • the method used to calculate compensation (where applicable).

Procedure for collective redundancies

The Directive lays down the procedure to be followed:

  • The employer notifies the competent public authority in writing of any projected collective redundancies. This notification must contain all the relevant information concerning the projected redundancies and consultations held, except for the method used to calculate compensation. However, where the cessation of activity is the result of a judicial decision, notification is only necessary at the express request of the authority.
  • The employer forwards a copy of the notification to the workers’ representatives, who may send comments to the competent public authority.
  • Collective redundancies take effect at the earliest 30 days after the notification; the competent public authority uses this period to seek solutions. Member States may grant the public authority the power to reduce this period or to extend it to 60 days following notification in cases where the problems cannot be resolved. This is not compulsory for collective redundancies following a cessation of activity resulting from a judicial decision. Wider powers of extension may be granted. The employer must be informed of any extension and the grounds for it before expiry of the initial period.

Background

The Directive is intended to harmonise Member States’ laws on the procedure and practical arrangements for collective redundancies, in order to afford greater protection to workers in the event of collective redundancies.

The Directive is a consolidated version of Directive 75/129/EEC and Directive 92/56/EEC, which have been repealed.

Member States may apply or introduce provisions which are more favourable to workers.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 98/59/EC

1.9.1998

L 225 of 12.8.1998

Protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer

Protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2008/94/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 on the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer (Text with EEA relevance).

Summary

This Directive protects employees who have a claim for unpaid remuneration against an employer who is in a state of insolvency.

The state of insolvency follows a request made under judicial proceedings involving the partial or total divestment of the employer’s assets and the appointment of a liquidator, where the competent judicial authority has:

  • decided to open proceedings; or
  • established that the employer’s undertaking or business has been definitively closed down and that the available assets are insufficient.

Member States of the European Union (EU) may, by way of exception, exclude claims by certain categories of employee if other forms of guarantee offer them equivalent protection. Member States may exclude domestic servants employed by a natural person and share-fishermen from the protection afforded by the Directive.

However, apart from these exceptions, all employees may benefit from this Directive irrespective of the duration of the contract of employment or the employment relationship. It therefore applies to part-time employees, fixed-term contracts and temporary contracts.

Guarantee institutions

Member States shall establish guarantee institutions which guarantee payment of employees’ claims and, where appropriate, severance pay on termination of employment relationships. They may set ceilings on the payments made by the institution, which must be sufficiently high to contribute to the social objective of the Directive.

The minimum period of remuneration by the guarantee institution shall be calculated on the basis of:

  • a minimum reference period of six months, giving rise to the payment of claims for at least three months;
  • a reference period of at least eighteen months, giving rise to the payment of claims for at least eight weeks. In this case, those periods which are most favourable to the employee shall be used for the calculation.

Employers shall contribute to the financing of these institutions, unless it is fully covered by the public authorities.

Social security

Member States may stipulate that the payment guarantee does not apply to:

  • social security contributions;
  • contributions under supplementary company or inter-company pension schemes outside the statutory social security schemes.

Moreover, if the employer has not paid the compulsory social security contributions but they have been deducted from the remuneration paid, employees shall enjoy their full benefit entitlement in respect of the insurance institutions.

The interests of employees are protected in respect of old-age benefits, including survivors’ benefits, under supplementary pension schemes. This protection also applies to employees who left the business before the insolvency occurred.

Transnational situations

If the insolvent employer operated in the territories of at least two Member States, the authority responsible for meeting claims shall be the one in the country where the employee habitually worked.

Similarly, the extent of employees’ rights with respect to guarantee institutions shall be determined by the national law applying to the guarantee institution.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2008/94/EC

17.11.2008

17.11.2008

OJ L 283 of 28.10.2008

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 28 February 2011 on the implementation and application of certain provisions of Directive 2008/94/EC on the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer [COM(2011) 84 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The safety net for employees introduced by Directive 2008/94/EC has proved its efficacy and usefulness. Some 3.4 million workers benefited from the intervention of the guarantee institutions during the period from 2008 to 2011, particularly in view of the global economic crisis.

Obligation to inform employees of applicable working conditions

Obligation to inform employees of applicable working conditions

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Obligation to inform employees of applicable working conditions

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Obligation to inform employees of applicable working conditions

Document or Iniciative

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.

Summary

The Directive applies to all paid employees with a contract or employment relationship defined and/or governed by the law in force in a Member State. Member States may exclude from its scope workers who have a contract or employment relationship:

  • with a total duration not exceeding one month or with a working week not exceeding eight hours; or
  • of a casual and/or specific nature where there are objective considerations justifying non-application of the Directive.

Obligation to provide information

Employers must provide employees with the following fundamental information:

  • identity of the parties;
  • place of work;
  • title, grade, nature or category of work or brief job specification;
  • date of commencement of contract or employment relationship;
  • in the case of a temporary contract or employment relationship, its expected duration;
  • amount of paid leave or procedures for allocating and determining such leave;
  • periods of notice to be observed by the employer and the employee should their contract or employment relationship be terminated or, where this cannot be indicated, method for determining such periods of notice;
  • basic amount, and other components of remuneration and frequency of payment;
  • employee’s normal working hours;
  • any relevant collective agreements.

Means of information

The information may be set out in a written contract of employment, in a letter of engagement or in one or more other written documents. These must be given to the employee within two months of commencement of employment, failing which the employee must be given a written declaration signed by the employer.

Expatriate employees

Employees required to work in another country must be in possession before departure of one of the documents referred to in point 3, which must include the following additional information:

  • duration of employment abroad;
  • currency to be used for payment of remuneration;
  • any benefits attendant on the employment abroad;
  • where appropriate, the conditions governing the employee’s repatriation.

These provisions do not apply where the duration of employment abroad is one month or less.

Any change to the terms of the contract or employment relationship must be recorded in writing.

The Directive does not affect the Member States’ prerogative to apply or introduce provisions which are more favourable to employees.

Background

The aim of the Directive is to protect employees against possible infringements of their rights, in view of the increase in the number of types of employment relationship, by establishing at Community level the obligation for employers to inform employees in writing of their conditions of employment.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 91/533/EEC 28.10.1991 30.6.1993 OJ L 288 of 18.10.1991

Safeguarding employees' rights in the event of transfers of undertakings

Safeguarding employees’ rights in the event of transfers of undertakings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Safeguarding employees’ rights in the event of transfers of undertakings

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Safeguarding employees’ rights in the event of transfers of undertakings

Document or Iniciative

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.

Summary

The transfer of an undertaking or an establishment * may be the result of a legal transfer or merger. Following a transfer, the transferee * of the undertaking becomes an employee of the undertaking transferred by the transferor *.

In these circumstances, the rights and duties of the employment contracts of the employees from the transferred undertaking will be recognised. This Directive applies to all types of employment relationships, without distinction in relation to:

  • the number of working hours, performed or to be performed;
  • the type of employment contract (undetermined, fixed-duration, or temporary).

The Directive applies to all undertakings, public or private, which are engaged in economic activities whether or not they are operating for gain.

Transfer of employment relationships

The rights and obligations of employees are maintained where an undertaking is the subject of a transfer. These rights and duties are connected with an existing employment contract or relationship.

In addition, the transfer of an undertaking is not grounds for dismissal. Dismissals may only take place for economic, technical or organisational reasons.

Member States may require that the transferor notifies the transferee of all the rights and obligations which will be transferred. However, they are still transferred even if this communication is not carried out.

In principle, the working conditions of the employees are maintained for the duration of the collective agreement of the undertaking. However, these conditions may be amended, at least one year after the transfer of the undertaking and if the Member States so authorise.

In addition, in principle, the rights and obligations of the employees, which exist under the complementary social protection schemes, are not transferred. However, Member States take measures to protect the rights to old-age benefits acquired under these schemes.

The rights and obligations of employees are not preserved where the transfer is undertaken as part of insolvency or bankruptcy proceedings. To prevent the misuse of insolvency proceedings in order to deprive employees of their rights in the case of a transfer, Member States may take appropriate measures in order to prevent this type of practice.

Employee information and consultation

During a transfer, employee representatives shall maintain their function until their reappointment is possible. Employees must continue to be represented, including in the case of bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings.

In addition, trade union representatives are consulted before measures concerning employees are adopted.

Employees are informed of the transfer conditions either directly or through the intermediary of their representatives. In particular, this information concerns the date or proposed date of the transfer, the reasons for the transfer, the legal, economic and social implications, and any measures envisaged in relation to the employees.

If an arbitration board exists in the Member State concerned the information and consultation requirements may be limited to cases where the transfer gives rise to disadvantages for a considerable number of the employees.

Lastly, the rights of trade union representatives are preserved even if their term of office expires as a result of the transfer of the undertaking.

Key terms of the act
  • Transfer of an undertaking: the transfer of an economic entity that retains its identity, defined as an organised grouping of resources that has the objective of pursuing an economic activity.
  • Transferee: any natural or legal person who becomes the employer in respect of the transferred undertaking.
  • Transferor: any natural or legal person who, by reason of a transfer ceases to be the employer in respect of the transferred undertaking.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Council Directive 2001/23/EC

11.4.2001

16.2.1979 

OJ L 82, 22.3.2001

 

Employment rights and work organisation

Employment rights and work organisation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Employment rights and work organisation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Employment rights and work organisation

The European Union has minimum requirements in the field of labour rights and work organisation. These requirements concern collective redundancies, insolvency and the transfer of undertakings, the consultation and information of workers, working hours, equal treatment and pay, and posted workers. They have been supplemented by framework agreements between the European social partners. This has led to the introduction throughout the EU of the right to parental leave and leave for family reasons, and has facilitated part-time work and limited the use of successive fixed-term contracts. Lastly, the concept of corporate social responsability encourages businesses to adopt good practices in the social field on a voluntary basis. The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions makes recommendations to the political decision-makers.

PROTECTION OF EMPLOYEES’ RIGHTS

  • Collective redundancies
  • Protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer
  • Safeguarding employees’ rights in the event of transfers of undertakings
  • Obligation to inform employees of applicable working conditions
  • Posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services
  • Strengthening of maritime labour standards
  • Equal pay
  • Equal treatment in employment and occupation
  • Green Paper on the European Workforce for Health
  • Green Paper on Modernising Labour Law
  • European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EUROFOUND)

ORGANISATION OF WORKING TIME

  • Organisation of working time: basic Directive

Sectoral provisions

  • Driving time in the road transport sector
  • Organisation of working time in respect of road transport activities
  • Organisation of working time of mobile workers in civil aviation
  • Working conditions of mobile workers engaged in interoperable cross-border services in the railway sector
  • Reassessing the regulatory social framework for more and better seafaring jobs in the EU
  • Organisation of seafarers’ working time
  • Organisation of hours of work on board ships using Community ports

Framework agreements resulting from inter-disciplinary dialogue

  • Parental leave
  • Parental leave and leave for family reasons
  • Part-time working
  • Fixed-term work
  • Equal treatment of temporary workers
  • Teleworking

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

  • A European strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Promoting corporate social responsibility
  • Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.
  • Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Equal treatment in employment and occupation

Equal treatment in employment and occupation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Equal treatment in employment and occupation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Equal treatment in employment and occupation

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000, establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation.

Summary

Combating discrimination is a major challenge for the European Union. The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the rule of law. Hence the EU must take all measures necessary to combat discrimination of all kinds, notably as regards employment and the labour market.

Employment and occupation are crucial to ensuring equal opportunities for all and in large measure contribute to the full participation of citizens in economic, social and culture life. However, many cases of discrimination have been identified in the field of employment and the labour market.

Article 13 of the EC Treaty, introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam, specifically empowers the Community to combat discrimination based on sex, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

The Member States ban discrimination in the field of employment and occupation. However, the scope of this prohibition, its content and enforceability vary from country to country. Hence this Directive is designed to lay down a general minimum framework in this area.

Scope

The proposal concerns the following areas:

  • conditions of access to employed or self-employed activities, including promotion;
  • vocational training;
  • employment and working conditions (including pay and dismissals);
  • membership of and involvement in an organisation of employers or workers or any other organisation whose members carry on a particular profession.

This applies as much to the public sector as to the private sector including public bodies as well as for paid and unpaid work.

The concept of discrimination

The proposal for a directive aims to combat both direct discrimination (differential treatment based on a specific characteristic) and indirect discrimination (any provision, criterion or practice which is neutral on its face but is liable to adversely affect one or more specific individuals or incite discrimination). Harassment, which creates a hostile environment, is deemed to be discrimination. Reasonable arrangements must be made to guarantee the principle of equal treatment for disabled persons, limiting it to cases which do not involve unjustified difficulties.

Cases in which differences in treatment are authorised

  • Genuine occupational qualifications

In certain cases differences in treatment may be justified by the nature of the post or the conditions in which the job is performed.

  • Differences in treatment on grounds of age

Differences in treatment on grounds of age are permissible when they are objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate labour market aim and are appropriate and necessary to the achievement of that aim (protection of young people and older workers, requirements as to the extent of job experience, etc.).

  • Positive action

Member States have the right to maintain and adopt measures intended to prevent or compensate for existing inequalities (measures to promote the integration of young people, the transition from work to retirement, etc.).

Minimum requirements

The proposal contains a “non-regression” clause which concerns Member States whose legislation provides for a higher level of protection than that afforded by the Directive.

Remedies and application of the law

Despite affirmation of the principle of equal treatment between men and women by Community law, enforcement of this principle has proved extremely difficult in practice. For this reason the proposal includes a series of mechanisms to ensure effective remedies in the event of discrimination.

These mechanisms rely on:

  • improvement of legal protection by reinforcing access to justice or to conciliation procedures (both in the form of individual access and by empowering organisations to exercise this right on behalf of a victim;
  • shifting the burden of proof: once facts have been established from which it may be presumed that there has been discrimination, the burden of proof lies with the defendant, in compliance with Directive 97/80 and the case law of the Court of Justice in the case of sex discrimination;
  • protection of victims of discrimination against reprisals, and notably dismissal;
  • dissemination of adequate information on the Directive’s provisions (once adopted) to vocational training and educational bodies and within the workplace.

The social partners have a crucial role to play in combating discrimination. Hence Member States must take adequate measures to promote the social dialogue between the two sides of industry with a view to fostering the principle of equal treatment, through the monitoring of workplace practices, codes of conduct, exchange of experiences and good practices, etc.

Discriminatory national provisions must be abolished or declared null and void. Sanctions will be imposed by Member States in the event of infringement of the principle of equal treatment.

The Member States must communicate to the Commission, within two years of the entry into force of the Directive and then every five years, all the information necessary for the Commission to draw up a report to the European Parliament and the Council on its application.

The Directive includes a impact assessment form in respect of companies and in particular SMEs.

Background

The Directive is part of a series of measures aiming to combat discrimination. Besides this act, the package includes a Communication from the Commission outlining the general framework of the action taken, a Directive on the equal treatment on grounds of racial and ethnic origin as well as an action programme to combat discrimination (2001-2006).

The Directive does not take into account discrimination on gender grounds as this principle is already part of Community legislation (in particular Council Directive 76/207/EEC of 9 February 1976 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions and Council Directive 86/613/EEC of 11 December 1986 on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity, including agriculture, in a self-employed capacity, and on the protection of self-employed women during pregnancy and motherhood.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2000/78/EC

2.12.2000

2.12.2003

L 303 of 2.12.2000

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

1) Objective

To launch a wide debate on how the European Union could promote corporate social responsibility on a European and International level, in particular, on how to make the most of existing experiences, to encourage the development of innovative practices, to bring greater transparency and to increase reliability in evaluating and validating the various initiatives undertaken in Europe.

2) Document or Iniciative

Green Paper – Promoting a European framework for Corporate Social Responsibility [COM(2001) 366 – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

Background

Corporate social responsibility can make a positive contribution to the strategic goal decided by the Lisbon European Council: “to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”. A European approach to corporate social responsibility forms part of the broader context of various international initiatives, such as the United Nations Global Compact (2000), the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (1997-2000), or the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2000). While these initiatives are not legally binding, the European Commission is committed to the active promotion of the OECD guidelines. Observance of the core ILO labour standards (freedom of association, abolition of forced labour, non-discrimination and elimination of child labour) is central to corporate social responsibility.

Corporate social responsibility

Being socially responsible means not only fulfilling the applicable legal obligations, but also going beyond compliance and investing “more” into human capital, the environment and relations with stakeholders. The experience with investment in environmentally responsible technologies and business practices suggests that in going beyond legal compliance companies can increase competitiveness and it can have a direct impact on productivity.

Corporate social responsibility should nevertheless not be seen as a substitute to regulation or legislation concerning social rights or environmental standards, including the development of appropriate new legislation. In countries where such regulations do not exist, efforts should focus on putting the proper regulatory or legislative framework in place in order to define a level playing field on the basis of which socially responsible practices can be developed.

Whilst corporate social responsibility is so far mainly promoted by large or multinational companies, it is relevant in all types of companies and in all sectors of activity, from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to multinationals. Certain SMEs already assume their social responsibility, particularly through community involvement. Worker cooperatives and participation schemes, as well as other forms of cooperative, mutual and associative enterprises structurally integrate other stakeholder interests and take up spontaneous social and civil responsibilities.

Corporate social responsibility: the internal and external dimensions

Under increasing pressure from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), consumer groups and now also investors, companies and sectors are increasingly adopting codes of conduct covering working conditions, human rights and environmental aspects, in particular those of their subcontractors and suppliers. Surveys have shown that consumers not only want to buy good and safe products, but they also want to know if they are produced in a socially responsible manner. In recent years, investors have seen socially responsible investing (SRI) in the social domain and investment in environmental protection as a good indication of sound internal and external management. Socially responsible practices can thus help open the way to reconciling social development with improved competitiveness.

Within the company, socially responsible practices primarily involve investment in human capital, health and safety, and managing change. They also cover environmentally responsible practices relating to the management of the natural resources used in production. In addition to these internal aspects, companies also contribute externally to their local communities, by providing jobs, wages, services and tax revenues. On the other hand companies depend on the health, stability, and prosperity of the communities in which they operate. In this sense, corporate social responsibility involves a wide range of stakeholders: business partners and suppliers, customers, public authorities and NGOs representing local communities, as well as the environment.

In a world of multinational investment and global supply chains, corporate social responsibility must also extend beyond the borders of Europe. One of the external dimensions to corporate social responsibility is that of human rights, particularly in relation to global production activities. Despite the existence of international instruments such as the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, human rights remain a very complex issue presenting political, legal and moral dilemmas.

Integrated management of social responsibility

Companies’ approaches in dealing with their responsibilities and relationships with their different stakeholders vary according to sectoral and cultural differences. In general, companies tend to adopt a mission statement, code of conduct, or credo where they state their purpose, core values, and responsibilities towards their stakeholders. These values are then translated into action across the organisation, adding a social or environmental dimension to their plans and budgets in order to carry out social or environmental audits and set up continuing education programmes.

Many multinational companies are now issuing social responsibility reports. While environmental, health, and safety reports are common, reports tackling issues such as human rights or child labour are not. In order for these reports to be useful, a global consensus needs to evolve on the type of information to be disclosed, the reporting format to be used, and the reliability of the evaluation and audit procedures.

The Green Paper invites public authorities at all levels, including international organisations, enterprises from SMEs to multinationals, social partners, NGOs, other stakeholders and all interested individuals to express their views on how to build a partnership for the development of a new framework for the promotion of corporate social responsibility, taking account of the interests of both business and the various stakeholders. Enterprises need to work together with public authorities to find innovative ways of developing corporate social responsibility.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Promoting corporate social responsibility

Promoting corporate social responsibility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promoting corporate social responsibility

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Research and innovation > Research in support of other policies

Promoting corporate social responsibility

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 22 March 2006 to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee – Implementing the partnership for growth and jobs: making Europe a pole of excellence on corporate social responsibility [COM(2006) 136 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the voluntary integration of social and environmental objectives into the commercial activities of enterprises and into their relationships with their partners.

CSR meets the objectives of the European Union’s (EU) social policy and the Strategy for Sustainable Development. This practice can also be of benefit to innovation, competitiveness and job creation.

Contributing to sustainable growth and employment

In the context of increased global competition and an ageing population, the EU must stimulate the production of enterprises which respect their social responsibilities. CSR may contribute to:

  • the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in the labour market;
  • an increase in investment in skills development, lifelong learning and the employability of employees;
  • improvements in public health, for example by means of voluntary labeling of foodstuffs and non-toxic chemicals;
  • innovation on social and environmental matters;
  • reduced levels of pollution and a more rational use of natural resources (obtaining the European Ecolabel scheme and investments in eco-innovation, etc.);
  • the respect for European values and standards on human rights, environmental protection and employment;
  • the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

European alliance for CSR

The Commission supports the establishment of an alliance to act as an umbrella for CSR initiatives. The Commission encourages the sharing of experience and good practice between enterprises, communicating the results to the public and the development of resources dedicated to CSR.

The new instrument is open to European enterprises of all sizes, on a voluntary basis. Their level of participation is flexible as no formal requirements are imposed.

Actions for promoting CSR

The development of CSR practice must involve a wide range of actors, including trade unions, investors, consumers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In this context, the Commission focuses on the following aspects in particular:

  • establishing a strengthened partnership that is broader than the alliance, including not only businesses but also all relevant stakeholders and national and regional authorities (particularly in Member States where CSR is a less well-known concept, as well as in acceding and candidate countries);
  • supporting multi-stakeholder initiatives, involving social partners and NGOs at sectoral level;
  • cooperating with Member States within the Group of High-Level National Representatives on CSR in order to mobilise the national and regional instruments;
  • raising consumer awareness of the impact of their choices;
  • incorporating CSR in the curricula of business schools and other education institutions;
  • promoting CSR among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • respecting international benchmarks, such as the MDGs and the Global Compact for businesses.


Another Normative about Promoting corporate social responsibility

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Promoting corporate social responsibility

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 22 March 2006 to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee – Implementing the partnership for growth and jobs: making Europe a pole of excellence on corporate social responsibility [COM(2006) 136 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the voluntary integration of social and environmental objectives into the commercial activities of enterprises and into their relationships with their partners.

CSR meets the objectives of the European Union’s (EU) social policy and the Strategy for Sustainable Development. This practice can also be of benefit to innovation, competitiveness and job creation.

Contributing to sustainable growth and employment

In the context of increased global competition and an ageing population, the EU must stimulate the production of enterprises which respect their social responsibilities. CSR may contribute to:

  • the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in the labour market;
  • an increase in investment in skills development, lifelong learning and the employability of employees;
  • improvements in public health, for example by means of voluntary labeling of foodstuffs and non-toxic chemicals;
  • innovation on social and environmental matters;
  • reduced levels of pollution and a more rational use of natural resources (obtaining the European Ecolabel scheme and investments in eco-innovation, etc.);
  • the respect for European values and standards on human rights, environmental protection and employment;
  • the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

European alliance for CSR

The Commission supports the establishment of an alliance to act as an umbrella for CSR initiatives. The Commission encourages the sharing of experience and good practice between enterprises, communicating the results to the public and the development of resources dedicated to CSR.

The new instrument is open to European enterprises of all sizes, on a voluntary basis. Their level of participation is flexible as no formal requirements are imposed.

Actions for promoting CSR

The development of CSR practice must involve a wide range of actors, including trade unions, investors, consumers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In this context, the Commission focuses on the following aspects in particular:

  • establishing a strengthened partnership that is broader than the alliance, including not only businesses but also all relevant stakeholders and national and regional authorities (particularly in Member States where CSR is a less well-known concept, as well as in acceding and candidate countries);
  • supporting multi-stakeholder initiatives, involving social partners and NGOs at sectoral level;
  • cooperating with Member States within the Group of High-Level National Representatives on CSR in order to mobilise the national and regional instruments;
  • raising consumer awareness of the impact of their choices;
  • incorporating CSR in the curricula of business schools and other education institutions;
  • promoting CSR among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • respecting international benchmarks, such as the MDGs and the Global Compact for businesses.

A European strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility

A European strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A European strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

A European strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the European Commission of 2 July 2002 concerning Corporate Social Responsibility: A business contribution to Sustainable Development [COM (2002) 347 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission presents a European strategy to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR involves companies integrating social and environmental objectives in their business operations and in their interaction with the actors concerned.

The Commission emphasises that the CSR programmes contribute to the sustainable development of the European Union (EU). In addition, they have a positive impact on the management and competitiveness of enterprises, considering in particular:

  • the globalisation of trade, which means that enterprises have activities and responsibilities abroad, including in developing countries;
  • consumer awareness regarding the image and reputation of enterprises;
  • financial institutions and investors taking into account the CSR activities of enterprises in order to evaluate the success and risk factors inherent in a company;
  • the possibility of using CSR activities to develop the skills of employees.

Principles of the European strategy

The strategy to promote CSR proposed by the Commission is based on a series of principles:

  • the voluntary, transparent and credible nature of CSR activities;
  • the identification of areas where European action will add value;
  • a balance between the actions taken in the economic, social and environmental spheres and in relation to consumers’ interests;
  • attention to the specific needs of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs);
  • compatibility with existing international agreements and instruments (particularly those of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)).

Key actions of the European strategy

Firstly, the Commission encourages developing knowledge on the impact of CSR on the economic performance of enterprises. It therefore proposes to launch studies into activities to raise awareness and disseminate information.

The exchange of good practice between businesses and between Member States must also be encouraged through the networking and coordination of actors.

The skills in enterprises must be supported, in particular by using European funding to train employees. In addition, the principles of CSR must be integrated into management training programmes in enterprises.

SME’s capacity for action must be strengthened by taking into account their specific characteristics and their limited resources. The Commission therefore encourages the exchange and dissemination of good practice, SME associations, cooperation between large companies and SMEs, and awareness-raising campaigns.

The transparency of CSR practices and tools must be guaranteed. The Commission therefore encourages the adoption of:

  • codes of conduct (concerning workers’ rights, human rights, protection of the environment, etc.);
  • management standards (in order to integrate social and environmental aspects into the day-to-day activities of enterprises);
  • instruments for measuring performance (such as internal evaluation reports);
  • labels on products;
  • standards for Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), in order to direct investors towards enterprises in the light of their CSR results.

The creation of a European forum could be of benefit to all the parties involved in CSR activities. It should be a place for exchanging experiences, cooperation and identifying areas where European action is required. In the first instance, the Commission invites the forum to look at:

  • the link between CSR and the competitiveness of enterprises;
  • the contribution of CSR to sustainable development, including in third countries;
  • issues specific to SMEs;
  • the effectiveness of existing codes of conduct;
  • guidelines and common criteria for evaluating CSR activities;
  • labelling programmes;
  • the dissemination of information on Socially Responsible Investment policies.

Lastly, the Commission proposes to integrate the objectives of CSR into all European policies. In accordance with its strategy to promote sustainable development, the EU has undertaken to integrate economic, social and environmental considerations into its policies. In addition, the CSR principles are particularly relevant in the following European policies:

  • employment and social affairs policy, particularly in the fields of education, training, equal opportunities and the integration of people with disabilities, the anticipation of industrial change and the restructuring of enterprises;
  • environmental policy, through evaluating environmental results, ecotechnology, and the environmental effectiveness of products (i.e. the link between the quantity of products and their impact on the environment);
  • consumer policy, in particular with regard to raising consumer awareness of social and environmental standards;
  • public procurement policy, in order to include social and environmental criteria in public procurement procedures;
  • external trade, external relations, and development policies, including with respect to multi-national enterprises;
  • public administration policy, given that the European institutions are also committed to implementing the CSR principles.

Context

This Communication follows on from the Green Paper on CSR published in 2001.


Another Normative about Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Enterprise > Business environment

Corporate social responsibility: a business contribution to sustainable development.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the European Commission of 2 July 2002 concerning Corporate Social Responsibility: A business contribution to Sustainable Development [COM (2002) 347 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission presents a European strategy to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR involves companies integrating social and environmental objectives in their business operations and in their interaction with the actors concerned.

The Commission emphasises that the CSR programmes contribute to the sustainable development of the European Union (EU). In addition, they have a positive impact on the management and competitiveness of enterprises, considering in particular:

  • the globalisation of trade, which means that enterprises have activities and responsibilities abroad, including in developing countries;
  • consumer awareness regarding the image and reputation of enterprises;
  • financial institutions and investors taking into account the CSR activities of enterprises in order to evaluate the success and risk factors inherent in a company;
  • the possibility of using CSR activities to develop the skills of employees.

Principles of the European strategy

The strategy to promote CSR proposed by the Commission is based on a series of principles:

  • the voluntary, transparent and credible nature of CSR activities;
  • the identification of areas where European action will add value;
  • a balance between the actions taken in the economic, social and environmental spheres and in relation to consumers’ interests;
  • attention to the specific needs of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs);
  • compatibility with existing international agreements and instruments (particularly those of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)).

Key actions of the European strategy

Firstly, the Commission encourages developing knowledge on the impact of CSR on the economic performance of enterprises. It therefore proposes to launch studies into activities to raise awareness and disseminate information.

The exchange of good practice between businesses and between Member States must also be encouraged through the networking and coordination of actors.

The skills in enterprises must be supported, in particular by using European funding to train employees. In addition, the principles of CSR must be integrated into management training programmes in enterprises.

SME’s capacity for action must be strengthened by taking into account their specific characteristics and their limited resources. The Commission therefore encourages the exchange and dissemination of good practice, SME associations, cooperation between large companies and SMEs, and awareness-raising campaigns.

The transparency of CSR practices and tools must be guaranteed. The Commission therefore encourages the adoption of:

  • codes of conduct (concerning workers’ rights, human rights, protection of the environment, etc.);
  • management standards (in order to integrate social and environmental aspects into the day-to-day activities of enterprises);
  • instruments for measuring performance (such as internal evaluation reports);
  • labels on products;
  • standards for Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), in order to direct investors towards enterprises in the light of their CSR results.

The creation of a European forum could be of benefit to all the parties involved in CSR activities. It should be a place for exchanging experiences, cooperation and identifying areas where European action is required. In the first instance, the Commission invites the forum to look at:

  • the link between CSR and the competitiveness of enterprises;
  • the contribution of CSR to sustainable development, including in third countries;
  • issues specific to SMEs;
  • the effectiveness of existing codes of conduct;
  • guidelines and common criteria for evaluating CSR activities;
  • labelling programmes;
  • the dissemination of information on Socially Responsible Investment policies.

Lastly, the Commission proposes to integrate the objectives of CSR into all European policies. In accordance with its strategy to promote sustainable development, the EU has undertaken to integrate economic, social and environmental considerations into its policies. In addition, the CSR principles are particularly relevant in the following European policies:

  • employment and social affairs policy, particularly in the fields of education, training, equal opportunities and the integration of people with disabilities, the anticipation of industrial change and the restructuring of enterprises;
  • environmental policy, through evaluating environmental results, ecotechnology, and the environmental effectiveness of products (i.e. the link between the quantity of products and their impact on the environment);
  • consumer policy, in particular with regard to raising consumer awareness of social and environmental standards;
  • public procurement policy, in order to include social and environmental criteria in public procurement procedures;
  • external trade, external relations, and development policies, including with respect to multi-national enterprises;
  • public administration policy, given that the European institutions are also committed to implementing the CSR principles.

Context

This Communication follows on from the Green Paper on CSR published in 2001.