Article 15 - Freedom to choose an occupation and right to engage in work
Key facts of the case:
Request for a preliminary ruling from the Areios Pagos.
Reference for a preliminary ruling – Social policy – Directive 2000/78/EC – Principle of equal treatment in employment and occupation – Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of age – Workers placed under a labour reserve system until termination of their contract of employment – Wage reduction and reduction or loss of severance pay – System applicable to public-sector workers close to full-time retirement – Reduction of public-sector wage costs – Article 6(1) – Legitimate social policy objective – Economic crisis.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Third Chamber) hereby rules:
Article 2 and Article 6(1) of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation under which public-sector workers who, during a given period, fulfil the conditions for drawing a full pension are placed under a labour reserve system until the termination of their contract of employment, which entails a reduction in their pay, the loss of their possible advancement and the partial or even total cancellation of the severance pay to which they would have been entitled on termination of their employment relationship, where that legislation pursues a legitimate employment-policy objective and the means to achieve that objective are appropriate and necessary.
46) Furthermore, as the Advocate General observed in point 76 of his Opinion, the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of age must be read in the light of the right to engage in work recognised in Article 15(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. It follows that particular attention must be paid to the participation of older workers in the labour force and thus in economic, cultural and social life. Retaining older workers in the labour force promotes, inter alia, diversity in the workforce. However, the interest represented by the continued employment of those persons must be taken into account in respecting other, potentially divergent, interests (judgment of 2 April 2020, Comune di Gesturi, C‑670/18, EU:C:2020:272, paragraph 44 and the case-law cited).