Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Sectoral social dialogue - Temporary agency work

Sectors of activity :

Social partners

Workers' organisations Employers' organisations
UNI Europa World Employment Confederation-Europe

Social dialogue in this sector covers workers who have an employment contract or relationship with a temporary work (temp) agency and who are assigned to work temporarily for client companies. For the legal definition, see Article 1 of Directive 2008/104/EC on temporary agency work.

Temp agencies are active in all economic sectors. They play a significant role in most EU countries, employing large numbers of workers, especially in the bigger economies. The sector is particularly well developed in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. Though well regulated in these countries, temp work was not legally established in others until Directive 2008/104/EC took effect there.

About 3.7m people were employed by temp agencies in the EU in 2013. Since then the number of agency workers has risen, according to Eurostat's Structural Business Statistics. Ciett (the International Confederation of Private Employment Services) puts the daily average number of agency workers in 2014 in the EU at about 4m full time equivalents.

Directive 2008/104/EC lays down a framework governing temp workers' working conditions in the EU. It is designed to guarantee a minimum level of protection for temporary workers and to help develop the temp agency sector as a flexible option for employers and workers.

The issues that need to be addressed include:

  • appropriate protection for temp agency workers
  • improving the way labour markets in temping services work.

Key areas

The Committee is currently focusing on:

  • labour market policies (e.g. the Europe 2020 Strategy, engagement in the relevant EU policy initiatives – the European Semester and combating undeclared work)
  • promoting dialogue between national employers' & workers' organisations
  • regulating temp work
  • workers' rights to move freely, including between EU countries
  • decent work, non-discrimination and equal treatment
  • promoting the ratification of ILO Convention No 181 and Recommendation No 188
  • the changing world of work.

Workers' and employers' organisations have been engaged in a joint project designed to provide quantitative and qualitative data on the role of temping in the labour market that will enable comparison with other forms of work. A new joint project is set to analyse the changing world of work and compare new forms of employment with temping.

Activities & meetings

Check the library entries for this sectoral social dialogue committee.

Achievements/Joint texts

Check the social dialogue texts database

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