HR Policy Global

EU: A Roundup of developments across the EU

In this piece we look at a range of issues from the gender pay gap across the EU, to due diligence concerns for BMW from a Moroccan cobalt mine, to the UK Supreme Court ruling that Deliveroo workers are not employees… and more…

Equal Pay Gap

Women in the European Union continue to earn less than men with the average gender pay gap in the EU standing at 13%. This means that for every €1 a man earns, a women will make only €0.87. Equal Pay Day marks the date that symbolises how many extra days women must work until the end of the year to earn what men earned in the same year. This year Equal Pay Day fell on 15 November here


For the first time since WW11, the CGT has lost its position as the leading trade union organisation in EDF, France’s major power company. In recent elections for the 48 social and economic committees (CSE) the white-collar CFE-CGC came first with 33.08% of the votes, with the CGT just breaking the 30% mark. The CFDT came third and FO forth with around 15% each. Turnout was 75%.


According to DLA Piper, companies may prohibit the private use of mobile phones during working hours without having to obtain the consent of the works council. This was decided by the Federal Labour Court on 17 October 2023, confirming a decision by the Regional Labour Court of Lower Saxony dated 13 October 2022, according to which the ban on the private use of mobile phones is not subject to co-determination of the works council. In the underlying case, a company from the automotive supplier industry had informed its employees by means of a notice that the use of mobile phones and smartphones for private purposes was not permitted during working hours. The works council considered this instruction to be unlawful because the ban was issued without prior consent of the works council.


The ETUC says that the pay of European workers is still falling in real terms despite corporations making above-inflation profits. It says its research shows that across the European Union, the value of wages has fallen this year when inflation is taken into account. By contrast, company profits have increased by nearly 2 per cent in real terms. Real pay is falling while real profits are rising in nine member states, including Germany, France and Italy. In a further 10 member states, increases in real profits are higher than increases in real wages.

Due Diligence: 

Press reports say that BMW is seeking clarity on operations at a Moroccan cobalt mine following a newspaper report citing irregularities that breach labor and environmental laws. The company told Reuters it was contacting the local supplier, Managem, with a range of queries and requested additional information. Managem is majority-owned by the Moroccan monarchy and operates a number of mines in several African countries. "If there is any misconduct, it must be remedied," the spokesperson said, adding there had been initial allegations in the summer against Managem but the documents provided to BMW had looked credible. 


In recent issues we have drawn attention we have drawn attention to the labour relations problems of Tesla in Sweden resulting from its refusal to sign a collective bargaining agreement. The article from the Guardian offers a nice overview of the problems Tesla faces, as it tries to buck the Swedish system. As we finish this newsletter, Tesla has begun legal proceedings over the refusal of the postal services to deliver licence plates to it.


The UK Supreme Court has ruled that Deliveroo workers are not employees and therefore cannot organise and bargain collectively. This post from Lewis Silkin, who acted for Deliveroo in the matter, explains what the case was about. Interestingly, in September 2022, the EU Commission published guidelines which said that it would not interpret EU competition law in such a way as to prevent solo self-employed workers bargaining collectively. 

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Authors: Tom Hayes



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