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EU court rules on payment standards for pregnant workers

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] ruled in two judgments Thursday that under EU law [Directive 92/85 text, PDF] a pregnant worker temporarily transferred or granted leave on account of her pregnancy is entitled to pay [judgments, text] equivalent to the average earnings she received before her pregnancy. The ECJ also called for improvements at the workplace for the safety and health of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding. The suits were filed by Austrian doctor Susanne Gassmayr and Finnish airline flight attendant Sanna Maria Parviainen, who both suffered losses at work after becoming pregnant. Gassamayr lost on-call duty allowances and Parviainen lost allowances after being transferred to ground staff. The ECJ's ruling is binding on all EU member nations.

The ECJ was created to ensure that EU legislation is interpreted and applied in the same way in all EU countries and that national courts do not give different rulings on the same issue. Last month the ECJ ruled that Dutch restrictions on Internet gambling were compatible with EU law on service provisions and games of chance [Article 49-EC text, PDF], holding that that national regulations on games of chance are compatible with EU law [JURIST report] when they are enacted to mitigate addiction and combat fraud. The ECJ ruled in April that the UK may not restrict government benefits [JURIST report] to the spouses and families of suspected terrorists. The court struck down the UK's interpretation of EU law, finding that it does not fulfill the purpose of combating international terrorism. In November the ECJ ruled that airline passengers confronted with flight delays of two hours or more may receive compensation equal to that of passengers whose flights are canceled. The case arose under European Parliament and European Council Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 [text, PDF], which sets rules for compensation and assistance of airline passengers.

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