EU rules on pregnant workers' pay

Pregnant woman - file pic
Image caption National courts asked the EU judges to clarify pay for pregnant workers

The EU's top court has ruled that pregnant workers who are temporarily transferred to another job or granted time off should not lose the extra payments they normally get.

But while on maternity leave they are not guaranteed the full amount, or to be paid an on-call duty allowance, the European Court of Justice said.

The ruling - binding across the EU - was prompted by two cases involving women in Austria and Finland.

Both took a pay cut during pregnancy.

They then took their cases to court to argue they should not have lost pay because of their pregnancies.

The judges in Luxembourg said that when pregnant women were no longer doing specific tasks rewarded by extra payments then there was no automatic entitlement to those payments.

But a pregnant worker granted leave from work or temporarily transferred to another job because of her pregnancy should be paid the money they were earning before the move, they said.

The court said those workers "must be entitled to remuneration consisting of her basic monthly pay and the pay components and supplementary allowances relating to her occupational status, such as those relating to her seniority, length of service and professional qualifications".

Protecting mothers

They said the Pregnant Workers Directive guaranteed that the minimum pay available to women on maternity leave was the equivalent of sick pay.

The cases involved an Austrian junior hospital doctor, Susanne Gassmayr, and a Finnish airline purser, Sanna Maria Parviainen.

Ms Gassmayr had lost her on-call duty allowance and Ms Parviainen had lost her allowances as a Finnair purser, after being transferred to ground staff.

The court said that in the interests of protecting the safety and health of pregnant workers, and new and breastfeeding mothers, that member states were free to pay pregnant workers and those on maternity leave "their entire remuneration, at a higher level than that guaranteed by the directive".

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites