The notion of the worker in EU Labour Law: “expansive tendencies” and harmonisation techniques

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Pasquale Monda

Summary: 1. Why an “age-old” debate turns “up to date”. 2. Notion of the worker and free movement. 3. The scope of the European notion of the worker: from “restrictive thesis” to “expansive thesis”. 4. The case law on non-discrimination and safety at workplaces. 5. Follows. The legal basis and the “non-said” of EU case law on the notion of the worker. 6. Follows. From a necessary European notion of the worker to its contents: the role of analogy. 7. European notion of the worker and directive on collective redundancy: the core of partial harmonisation. 8. Notion of the worker and “minimum harmonisation”: the “expansive tendencies” and their limitations. 9. Case law on the referral to national laws of the notion of the worker: the Sibilio case. 10. Follows. The Betriebsrat der Ruhrlandklinik case. 11. Subordinated-employment and self-employment: sectorbased approach and the Danosa case. 12. Law on competitiveness and the notion of the worker. 13. Follows. The Court’s reasons in the FNV case. 14. Follows. Following the FNV case, also the Commission takes a stake. 15. Conclusions: recent developments of EU law.


The Author retraced the historical origins of the Lawrie-Blum formula, investigates recent trends to broaden its scope and make it the fulcrum of the entire European social protection system. Having highlighted the problematic issues of these reconstructions, the A. identifies in the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice an approach to the notion of the worker which is markedly sectoral and examines its implications in the controversial relationship between competition and collective bargaining.


Labour law, worker, free movement, minimum harmonisation, competition.