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Summaries of EU Legislation

Workplace health and safety for temporary workers

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Workplace health and safety for temporary workers



Council Directive 91/383/EEC of 25 June 1991 supplementing the measures to improve health and safety in the workplace of temporary workers


It aims to ensure that EU countries enact legislation to improve health and safety protection for workers on temporary* or fixed-term* contracts, to bring it in line with the protection enjoyed by other workers.


Council Directive 89/391/EEC on the safety and health of workers applies equally to temporary workers*. The current directive supplements this with the following:

Information and training

  • Before work begins, temporary workers should be informed of any risks in the job and, in particular, any special occupational qualifications, skills or special medical surveillance required.
  • Each worker should receive sufficient job-appropriate training adapted to their level of qualifications and experience.

Special medical surveillance

Where work is particularly dangerous to the safety or health of temporary workers, or requires special medical surveillance, EU countries have the option to prohibit their use. If temporary workers are used for such work, appropriate special medical surveillance must be provided by the employer, which could extend beyond the period of employment, if necessary.

Health and safetyservices

Health and safety services within an organisation must be informed of any assignment of temporary workers.

Employment businesses and agencies

  • If temporary workers are supplied by an agency, or other employment business, the agency must be informed of the qualifications required and the specific features of the work, and this information must be passed on to the workers concerned. The information could form part of the contract of assignment.
  • The organisation employing the temporary worker, however, is responsible for the safety, hygiene and health aspects of working conditions.

Responsibility of EU countries

EU countries must report to the European Commission every 5 years on its implementation, including the points of view of workers and employers.


It applies from 15 July 1991. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 31 December 1992.


For more information, see:


Temporary contract: an employment contract between a temporary employment business (such as an agency) and a worker, to carry out a task in an organisation under its supervision.

Fixed-term (or fixed-duration) contract: an employment contract directly between an employer and a worker for a specific duration or to complete a specific task.

Temporary worker: a term used for clarity in this summary to cover a person working under either of the 2 temporary employment relationships defined above.


Council Directive 91/383/EEC of 25 June 1991 supplementing the measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of workers with a fixed-duration employment relationship or a temporary employment relationship (OJ L 206, 29.7.1991, pp. 19-21)

Successive amendments to Directive 91/383/EEC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work (OJ L 183, 29.6.1989, pp. 1-8)

See consolidated version.

last update 01.12.2016