Court ruling increases protection of parental leave

The European Court of Justice has delivered a judgement in which it adds to its body of case law protecting employees choosing to take parental leave. In this case, a woman employee was dismissed at the beginning of a period of part-time parental leave that followed her maternity leave. She did not accept that her protective award for dismissal should be calculated on the basis of her part-time salary.

The Court of Justice found that the protective award had to be calculated on the basis of the remuneration applicable when the employee was working full time prior to parental leave. A reduction in the protective award would dissuade employees from taking parental leave and would therefore be contrary to the framework agreement on parental leave of 14 December 1995.

The Court stated that Clause 2, Paragraph 4 of this agreement, which is intended to protect employees against dismissal in association with taking parental leave, ‘must be interpreted as articulating a particularly important European Union social right and it may not, therefore, be interpreted restrictively’ (Case C-588/12, Lyreco Belgium NV v. Sophie Rogiers, 27 February 2014).

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