Whether due to political sensitivities, including Brexit, or other factors, it is noticeable that potential EU legislative developments affecting the workplace are thinner on the ground this year.

Employers will be interested in new proposals for working parents legislation which is expected to be published by the EU Commission during 2017. They may include proposals on paternity and carers’ leave, additional protections for employees on maternity leave and changes to parental and flexible working rights. However, it may be some time before they are law given the requirement for member states and the EU parliament to agree their content.

Changes to the Working Time Directive have long been discussed. However, an ongoing stalemate between key players in the EU suggests that legislative change currently appears unlikely.

We might see proposals to extend the existing requirement to provide written particulars of employment setting out key terms and information for the employee. Proposals might include extending the requirement beyond employees (potentially to non-standard workers).

A controversial proposal to extend the Posted Workers Directive to provide posted workers with a new right to equal pay in the host country for the time of their posting seems unlikely to make progress given strong opposition from a number of member states.

Meanwhile, the countdown continues to the EU General Data Protection Regulation coming into force: it will apply in all member states from 25 May 2018.

Looking ahead at EU case law developments in 2017

The Court of Justice of the EU will rule on whether prohibiting Muslim women from wearing an Islamic headscarf at work is religious discrimination under EU law: Bougnaoui v Micropole Univers and Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions. The ruling should cast more light on the extent to which employers can operate ‘neutrality’ policies that might interfere with employees’ religious practices.