On 10 March 2011, the ECJ held (agreeing with the opinion given by the Advocate General) in Maurits Casteels v British Airways plc (C-370/09), that a vesting rule in British Airways' German pension scheme, which did not allow for an employee's continuous period of service across different member states to be taken into account, breached the provisions in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union concerning freedom of movement for workers.
A Belgian national worker had worked for British Airways (BA) continuously for many years at sites in different member states, including a stint shy of three years in Germany. BA refused to give him a pension as he had not worked long enough in Germany to complete the vesting period under the pension scheme's rules to be entitled to any benefits. The worker argued that the vesting rule breached the provisions in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union concerning freedom of movement for workers and that his entire period of service across different member states should be taken into account.
As a result of the decision, schemes may need to reconsider provisions in their rules about the period of pensionable service required to be completed for workers to be entitled to benefits. The decision relates to continuous service across different member states and does not apply where an employee's service is discontinuous.