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Parliamentary questions
17 May 2018
Answer given by Ms Jourová on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-001121/2018

In the recent judgment referred to,(1) the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) only applied and interpreted EC law, notably Directives 92/85/EEC(2) and 98/59/EC(3). The CJEU reaffirms the general principle that a dismissal decision taken for reasons essentially connected with the worker’s pregnancy is incompatible with the prohibition on dismissal laid down in Directive 92/85. It also confirms that collective redundancies within the meaning of Directive 98/59 can only be effected for reasons not related to the individual workers concerned.

The aim of Directive 92/85 is to implement measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and notably to ensure certain minimum rights. The prohibition of the dismissal of pregnant workers during the period from the beginning of their pregnancy to the end of the maternity leave is a crucial element of the minimum protection ensured at EU level.

The directive allows only in exceptional circumstances to dismiss a pregnant worker, which as clarified in the judgment of the CJEU, can be a situation where the company has to engage in a collective redundancy. The exception to the dismissal protection is justified only in cases not connected with the pregnancy and which are permitted under national law. Hence the dissmissal must affect a significant number of persons in the company.

Still, it remains the duty of the national court to verify that the agreement providing for the collective redundancy respected the principle of equality between men and women and to ensure that the dissmissal is not linked to the pregnancy of the worker concerned. Also, since the directive only ensures a minimum protection, Member States can go beyond the protection ensured at EU level.

(1)Case C-103/16 (Porras Guisado).
(2)Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding (tenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16 (1) of Directive 89/391/EEC), OJ L 348, 28.11.1992, p. 1.
(3)Council Directive 98/59/EC of 20 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies, OJ L 225, 12.08.1998, p. 16.

Last updated: 17 May 2018Legal notice