Social protection in the EU covers also atypical work, i.e. other forms of work than that for an indefinite period, such as work for a specific duration, interim work, temporary work and seasonal work. These different forms of work enable companies to organise their work and their production in such a way as to improve productivity and thus become more competitive. Similarly, they enable workers to adapt the hours they work to suit their personal and family circumstances. But in a single market, certain essential conditions must be determined both to avoid distortions of competition and to protect the workers who opt for or accept (for want of something better) these new forms of work. These two objectives are contained in the Directives on atypical work. Thus a Directive guarantees satisfactory health and safety conditions of workers with a fixed-duration employment relationship (whose duration is fixed by objective criteria) or a temporary employment relationship (between the employer - a temporary employment agency - and the employee) [Directive 91/383]. Another Directive, based on a framework agreement on fixed-term work concluded between the social partners, ensures compliance with the principle of non-discrimination vis-à-vis employment of indefinite duration [Directive 1999/70].
Contract duration is but one of the areas where there have been changes in the organisation of work in Europe. Alongside traditional work practices of indefinite time, recent years have seen the growth of new forms of work: homeworking (out-workers), part-time work, job sharing, job splitting, being "on call", distance working, etc. These new work forms have arisen as a result of new technologies, to accommodate companies' needs for flexibility and to meet the personal and family demands of many workers. However, they can obscure the situation of these workers if there is no written proof of the essential points of the employment relationship. Therefore, a Directive provides for the drawing up of a written declaration regarding an employment relationship [Directive 91/533]. It stipulates that an employer shall notify an employee of the essential aspects of the contract or employment relationship by written declaration not later than two months after the commencement of employment. Essential aspects are considered to be: the place of work, the nature of the work and the category of employment, the duration of the employment relationship, the number of hours worked and paid holidays, pay and social rights. The Commission meanwhile recommended that the Member States ratify the International Labour Organisation's Convention on home work [Commission Recommendation].
A Directive concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time lays down a basic set of minimum provisions covering more particularly: the maximum weekly working time (48 hours), the minimum daily rest period (11 uninterrupted hours), the minimum period of paid leave (4 weeks), conditions relating to night work and the maximum period of such work (8 hours), and breaks in the event of prolonged periods of work [Directive 2003/88]. According to the European Court of justice the rights established by this Directive, such as the paid annual leave, are important principles of EU social law, from which there can be no derogations and different national implementations [Case C-282/10]. In fact, the European Directive is intended to exercise a pressure on the Governments of the Member States to better enforce the relative legislations. Another Directive aims to prevent part-time workers from being treated less favourably than full-time workers, concerning particularly employment conditions and continuing training [Directive 97/81].
A special directive aims at the enforcement of seafarers' hours of work on board ships using EU ports [Directive 1999/95]. Special directives concern also the organisation of working time and hence the improvement of health and safety protection regarding: mobile workers (flying personnel) in civil aviation [Directive 2000/79]; those performing road transport activities and self-employed drivers [Directive 2002/15].