Key facts of the case:
Reference for a preliminary ruling from the Cour de cassation (France).
Social policy — Directive 2003/88/EC — Article 7 — Right to paid annual leave — Precondition for entitlement imposed by national rules — Absence of the worker — Length of the leave entitlement based on the nature of the absence — National rules incompatible with Directive 2003/88 — Role of the national court.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:
1. Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time must be interpreted as precluding national provisions or practices which make entitlement to paid annual leave conditional on a minimum period of ten days’ or one month’s actual work during the reference period;
2. It is for the national court to determine, taking the whole body of domestic law into consideration, in particular Article L. 223-4 of the Code du travail, and applying the interpretative methods recognised by domestic law, with a view to ensuring that Article 7 of Directive 2003/88 is fully effective and achieving an outcome consistent with the objective pursued by it, whether it can find an interpretation of that law that allows the absence of the worker due to an accident on the journey to or from work to be treated as being equivalent to one of the situations covered by that article of the Code du travail.
If such an interpretation is not possible, it is for the national court to determine whether, in the light of the legal nature of the respondents in the main proceedings, the direct effect of Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88 may be relied upon against them.
If the national court is unable to achieve the objective laid down in Article 7 of Directive 2003/88, the party injured as a result of domestic law not being in conformity with European Union law can none the less rely on the judgment of 19 November 1991 in Joined Cases C-6/90 and C-9/90 Francovich and Others in order to obtain, if appropriate, compensation for the loss sustained.
3. Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88 must be interpreted as not precluding a national provision which, depending on the reason for the worker’s absence on sick leave, provides for a period of paid annual leave equal to or exceeding the minimum period of four weeks laid down in that directive.
Whereas this judgement does not relate to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union it is included in the case law database because it is referred to in FRA’s Charter e-guidance. The latter is an online tool guiding judges and other legal practitioners through the relevant questions concerning the applicability of the Charter.