Chapter six: Labour and social standards
Article 6.1: Definition
1. For the purposes of this Chapter, “labour and social levels of protection” means the levels of protection provided overall in a Party’s law and standards62, in each of the following areas:
(a) fundamental rights at work;
(b) occupational health and safety standards;
(c) fair working conditions and employment standards;
(d) information and consultation rights at company level; or
(e) restructuring of undertakings.
2. For the Union, “labour and social levels of protection” means labour and social levels of protection that are applicable to and in, and are common to, all Member States.
Article 6.2: Non-regression from levels of protection
1. The Parties affirm the right of each Party to set its policies and priorities in the areas covered by this Chapter, to determine the labour and social levels of protection it deems appropriate and to adopt or modify its law and policies in a manner consistent with each Party’s international commitments, including those under this Chapter.
2. A Party shall not weaken or reduce, in a manner affecting trade or investment between the Parties, its labour and social levels of protection below the levels in place at the end of the transition period, including by failing to effectively enforce its law and standards.
3. The Parties recognise that each Party retains the right to exercise reasonable discretion and to make bona fide decisions regarding the allocation of labour enforcement resources with respect to other labour law determined to have higher priority, provided that the exercise of that discretion, and those decisions, are not inconsistent with its obligations under this Chapter.
4. The Parties shall continue to strive to increase their respective labour and social levels of protection referred to in this Chapter.
Article 6.3: Enforcement
For the purposes of enforcement as referred to in Article 6.2 [Non-regression from levels of protection] each Party shall have in place and maintain a system for effective domestic enforcement and, in particular, an effective system of labour inspections in accordance with its international
62 For greater certainty, this Chapter and Article 9.4 [Rebalancing] do not apply to the Parties’ law and standards relating to social security and pensions.
commitments relating to working conditions and the protection of workers; ensure that administrative and judicial proceedings are available that allow public authorities and individuals with standing to bring timely actions against violations of the labour law and social standards; and provide for appropriate and effective remedies, including interim relief, as well as proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. In the domestic implementation and enforcement of Article 6.2 [Non-regression from levels of protection], each Party shall respect the role and autonomy of the social partners at a national level, where relevant, in line with applicable law and practice.
Article 6.4: Dispute settlement
1. The Parties shall make all efforts through dialogue, consultation, exchange of information and cooperation to address any disagreement on the application of this Chapter.
2. By way of derogation from Title I [Dispute settlement] of Part Six [Dispute settlement and horizontal provisions], in the event of a dispute between the Parties regarding the application of this Chapter, the Parties shall have recourse exclusively to the procedures established under Articles 9.1 [Consultations], 9.2 [Panel of experts] and 9.3 [Panel of experts for non-regression areas] of this Title.