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Equal treatment of temporary workers

European legislation improves the protection of temporary workers by ensuring equal treatment concerning the basic working and employment conditions. It establishes a framework for using temporary working to contribute effectively to job creation and to the development of flexible forms of working.


Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on temporary agency work.


Temporary workers * are employed by a temporary-work agency * and temporarily placed at the disposal of user undertakings *. In terms of the basic working and employment conditions, the temporary workers and the workers recruited directly by the undertaking for the same type of post receive equal treatment.

This Directive applies to public and private temporary-work agencies, and to user undertakings engaged in economic activities whether or not they are operating for gain. After consulting social partners, Member States may decide that the Directive does not apply to employment contracts within certain public programmes, specifically vocational training, integration or retraining.

Working and employment conditions

The principle of equal treatment applies to the basic working and employment conditions relating to:

  • the duration of working time, overtime, breaks, rest periods, night work, holidays and public holidays;
  • pay.

Workers receive equal treatment with regard to:

  • the protection of pregnant women and nursing mothers;
  • the protection of children and young people;
  • equal treatment for men and women;
  • protection against discrimination based on sex, race or ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, disabilities, age or sexual orientation.

However, Member States may authorise the social partners to define specific working and employment conditions for temporary workers.

After consulting the social partners, Member States may also provide the option to derogate from the principle of equal pay for temporary workers who have a permanent contract of employment (PCE) and who continue to be paid between two postings *.

Access to employment, training and services

Temporary workers must be free to conclude an employment contract with the user undertaking at the end of their posting. They must therefore be kept informed of vacancies for permanent employment. Their participation in training programmes must be encouraged, whether within the temporary-work agency or the user undertaking.

Access to the amenities and collective services of the user undertaking (specifically canteens, childcare facilities and transport) must be open to them, and in principle under the same conditions as other workers.

Representation and information

Bodies representing workers are constituted according to a threshold calculated using the number of employees in an undertaking or establishment. Temporary workers are taken into account in this calculation within the temporary-work agency which employs them. However, Member States may also decide to count them within the user undertaking.

When a user undertaking presents the employment situation to the social partners, it must provide information on the temporary workers.


Member States must lay down effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties in the event of infringements of national provisions enacted under this Directive. They should also ensure that legal or administrative recourse exists in case of breaches of the obligations of this Directive.


Members States shall review the restrictions or prohibitions applicable to temporary work by 5 December 2011 at the latest. These limitations may be justified only on grounds of the general interest.

Key terms used in the act
  • Temporary worker: a person with a contract of employment or an employment relationship with a temporary-work agency with a view to being posted to a user undertaking to work temporarily under its supervision.
  • Posting: the period during which the temporary worker is placed at the user undertaking to work temporarily under its supervision.
  • Temporary-work agency: any natural or legal person who concludes contracts of employment or establishes employment relationships with workers in order to post them to user undertakings for temporary postings.
  • User undertaking: any natural or legal person for whom and under the supervision of whom a temporary worker works temporarily.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition into the Member StatesOfficial Journal




OJ L 327 of 5.12.2008

Last updated: 04.10.2011
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