Wolf v Stadt Frankfurt am Main C-229/08

The ECJ held in this case that a German law restricting applications to join the fire service to those under the age of 30 could be defended as a genuine occupational requirement. The ECJ decided that the proper functioning of the emergency services was a relevant legitimate objective and the maximum recruitment age of 30 was proportionate.

In Petersen v Berufungsausschuss für Zahnärzte für den Berzirk Westfalen-Lippe, the ECJ held that a law setting a maximum age of 68 for dentists to be accredited to work in the German national health service was potentially compatible with the Directive as a national law aimed at protecting public health.

There were legitimate aims to ensure the financial viability of the system and the competence of younger dentists.

Dentists working exclusively in the private sector were not subject to the cut-off at 68.

In both cases the ECJ accepted that age related decline in performance is capable of justifying direct age discriminatory rules.

EU – Belgium

With effect from 1 January 2010 a social security levy will be charged in Belgium on the private use of company mobile phones unless the employer has devised a way to distinguish between personal and business calls. The levy will average €150 per annum and be apportioned between employers and employees.

EU – France

A bill has recently been submitted to the French parliament which would require all public quoted companies to ensure that women fill 50% of their boards by 2015. Implementing the new law will oblige companies to achieve 20% representation within 18 months and 40% within 4 years. Currently only 10% of board members in CAC 40 companies are female. To become law this measure will need to be voted through by the French National Assembly where just 18% of the MP’s are women!

Redeployment obligations in workforce reductions in France

A bill to ease employer redeployment obligations is under review. If the bill is adopted then employers will be allowed to limit job searches to positions offering a level of remuneration similar to the employee’s current compensation.

Before looking for positions outside France employers will be allowed to ask employees what type of restrictions notably in relation to remuneration and location they would be prepared to accept in order to have a job within the company. Employers will no longer have to offer positions abroad where the remuneration is more than 10% below the minimum wage guaranteed by French law unless the employee expressly requests it in advance of the employer’s search for replacement jobs. (With thanks to Jeantet Associés, Paris, France).

EU – Finland – Allowance payments during pregnancy

Parviainen v Finnair Oyj (C-471/08)

Ms Parviainen worked for a Finnish airline as an air stewardess. When she became pregnant she was moved to ground staff in order to comply with health and safety laws. As a result she received less pay than she was receiving before and complained. The Finnish court referred the matter to the European Court of Justice. The Advocate General held that her employer was under a duty to transfer her to ground staff to avoid health and safety risks. As a result her entitlement was not to receive the same salary as that which she received before her temporary move but the obligation on her employers was to ensure that the payment for her new role was adequate. So her allowances she received in her former role did not have to be maintained.

EU – Germany

A German federal labour court has ruled that an employer may require written German language skills where this is a clear requirement in order to perform the job. The case concerned a Spanish production assistant who had been hired on condition that they attended language courses funded by the employer.

After 2 years they discontinued the language training and they were warned that they must resume the course or be dismissed. When their linguistic skills were subsequently tested they were discovered to be inadequate and they were dismissed.

The court found that the dismissal was for a legitimate reason and did not amount to indirect discrimination on grounds of nationality or ethnic origin.