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Alleged failure to provide convincing reasons for the denial of the request to work part-time

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  • Kanteluasia :  706/2010/RT
    Tutkittavaksi otetut kantelut, pvm 26.5.2010 - Suositus 25.6.2012 - Päätökset, pvm 18.3.2013
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Summary of the decision on complaint 706/2010/(PF)(MF)RT (confidential) against the European External Action Service

In 2001, the Head of an EU Delegation authorised three local agents to work part-time. In 2009, the three local agents concerned asked the Head of the Delegation for an extension of the authorisation to work part-time. Their request was rejected. On an exceptional basis, an extension was granted only until the end of 2010. In their complaint to the European Ombudsman, they mainly alleged that the European External Action Service ('EEAS') failed to provide convincing reasons for its decision to deny them authorisation to work part-time.

The Ombudsman's inquiry was initially opened against the European Commission. As of 1 January 2011, following a transfer of competencies, the European External Action Service (EEAS) became the competent body to handle all decisions concerning staff in the EU Delegations. Thus, the EEAS replaced the Commission for the purposes of the present inquiry.

In its opinion, the EEAS explained that it could not extend the authorisation it had granted to the three local agents to work part-time on the following grounds: (i) local law does not provide for a common practice of granting part-time work and there are "no binding provisions" in this respect; (ii) the EU specific rules concerning local agents do not include any provisions on granting part-time work; and (iii) there is no "interest of the service" that permits part-time work.

The Ombudsman considered unjustified the EEAS's refusal to extend the authorisation to work part-time for the three local agents. In his view, part-time work was, at least, a common option allowed by the local law. Even if there are no general "binding provisions" in the local law laying down that part-time work should be compulsorily granted upon request, the parties to work agreements are free to negotiate and allow for such a possibility. Moreover, even if the EU specific rules concerning local agents are silent in respect of part-time work, they do not, however, forbid such an arrangement from being agreed upon. Finally, the Ombudsman recalled the relevant International Labour Organisation rules which all recognise part-time work as an appropriate form of employment for workers with family responsibilities.

The Ombudsman initially addressed a proposal for a friendly solution to the EEAS and, subsequently, a draft recommendation. Following his draft recommendation, the EEAS explained why it was in the interest of the service to deny the complainants' requests. In addition, the EEAS informed the Ombudsman that it had re-opened discussions with the Commission on the possibility of granting authorisations for part-time work to local agents. The Ombudsman accepted this explanation and considered that the EEAS has taken adequate measures to implement his draft recommendation. He therefore closed the case.