Key facts of the case
Requests for a preliminary ruling from Bundesarbeitsgericht.
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Social policy — Organisation of working time — Directive 2003/88/EC — Article 7 — Right to paid annual leave — Employment relationship terminated by the death of the worker — National legislation preventing the payment of an allowance to the legal heirs of a worker in lieu of paid annual leave not taken by him — Obligation to interpret national law in conformity with EU law — Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Article 31(2) — Whether it may be relied upon in a dispute between individuals.
Outcome of the case
On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:
1. Article 7 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 and of Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation such as that at issue in the main proceedings, under which, where the employment relationship is terminated by the death of the worker, the right to paid annual leave acquired under those provisions and not taken by the worker before his death lapses without being able to give rise to a right to an allowance in lieu of that leave which is transferable to the employee’s legal heirs by inheritance.
2. Where it is impossible to interpret a national rule such as that at issue in the main proceedings in a manner consistent with Article 7 of Directive 2003/88 and Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the national court, before which a dispute between the legal heir of a deceased worker and the former employer of that worker has been brought, must disapply that national legislation and ensure that the legal heir receives payment from the employer of an allowance in lieu of paid annual leave acquired under those provisions and not taken by the worker before his death. That obligation on the national court is dictated by Article 7 of Directive 2003/88 and Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights where the dispute is between the legal heir and an employer which has the status of a public authority, and under the second of those provisions where the dispute is between the legal heir and an employer who is a private individual.