Article 20 - Equality before the law
Key facts of the case:
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Social policy — Protection of employees in the event of employer’s insolvency — Directive 2008/94/EC — Articles 3 and 4 — Employees’ claims borne by guarantee institutions — Limitation on the liability of guarantee institutions — Exclusion of wage claims arising over three months prior to the entry in the commercial register of the judicial decision initiating insolvency proceedings.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Seventh Chamber) hereby rules:
Directive 2008/94/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 on the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation, such as Article 4(1) of the Zakon za garantiranite vzemania na rabotnitsite i sluzhitelite pri nesastoyatelnost na rabotodatelia (Law on employees’ guaranteed claims in the event of the employer’s insolvency), which does not guarantee the wage claims of employees whose employment relationship ended more than three months prior to the entry in the commercial register of the judicial decision initiating insolvency proceedings in respect of their employer.
1) This request for a preliminary ruling concerns the interpretation of Articles 151 and 153 TFEU, Article 20 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’), Articles 3, 4, 11 and 12 of Directive 2008/94/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 on the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer (OJ 2008 L 283, p. 36), and the principles of procedural autonomy, equivalence, effectiveness and proportionality.
23) Lastly, the referring court states that it entertains doubts as to the compatibility with Article 20 of the Charter of the difference in treatment of employees who are entitled to the protection of their outstanding claims, depending on whether Article 358(1)(3) of the Employment Code or Article 4(1) of the Law on employees’ guaranteed claims applies, and depending on whether or not the employer is solvent.
24) In those circumstances, the Varhoven administrativen sad (Supreme Administrative Court) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling: