CJEU Joined Cases C-609/17 and C-610/17 / Judgment

Terveys- ja sosiaalialan neuvottelujärjestö (TSN) ry v Hyvinvointialan liitto ry and Auto- ja Kuljetusalan Työntekijäliitto AKT ry v Satamaoperaattorit ry
Policy area
Employment and social policy
Deciding body type
Court of Justice of the European Union
Deciding body
Court (Grand Chamber)
Type
Decision
Decision date
19/11/2019
ECLI (European case law identifier)
ECLI:EU:C:2019:981
  • CJEU Joined Cases C-609/17 and C-610/17 / Judgment

    Key facts of the case:

    Requests for a preliminary ruling from the Työtuomioistuin.
    Reference for a preliminary ruling — Social policy — Article 153 TFEU — Minimum safety and health requirements for the organisation of working time — Directive 2003/88/EC — Article 7 — Right to paid annual leave of at least 4 weeks — Article 15 — Provisions of national legislation and collective agreements more favourable to the protection of the safety and health of workers — Workers incapable of working during a period of paid annual leave due to illness — Refusal to carry over that leave where not carrying over that leave does not reduce the actual duration of the paid annual leave below 4 weeks — Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Inapplicable where there is no implementation of EU law for the purposes of Article 51(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

    Outcome of the case:

    On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:

    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 not precluding national rules or collective agreements which provide for the granting of days of paid annual leave which exceed the minimum period of 4 weeks laid down in that provision, and yet exclude the carrying over of those days of leave on the grounds of illness.

    Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, read in conjunction with Article 51(1) thereof, must be interpreted as meaning that it is not intended to apply where such national rules or collective agreements exist.

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter

    1) These requests for a preliminary ruling concern the interpretation of 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 (OJ 2003 L 299, p. 9) and of Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’).

    ...

    21) TSN, in its capacity as a workers’ representative organisation which had signed the health sector collective agreement, brought an action before the työtuomioistuin (Labour Court, Finland), seeking a declaration that Ms Luoma was entitled, having regard to her incapacity for work in connection with the abovementioned surgical operation, to carry over to a later date the entirety of the leave that she had been granted for the period between 9 September and 13 September 2015. In support of that action, TSN argued that the first subparagraph of Paragraph 25 of the Law on annual leave, as amended by Law (276/2013), made applicable in this case through the health sector collective agreement, is contrary to Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88 and Article 31(2) of the Charter, in so far as it provides for the carrying over of leave on the grounds of, inter alia, illness, only in respect of the leave guaranteed by that law and not that resulting from collective agreements.

    ...

    23) In that context, the referring court questions whether the application of the first subparagraph of Paragraph 25 of the Law on annual leave, as amended by Law (276/2013), thus carried out through the health sector collective agreement meets the requirements stemming from Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88 and Article 31(2) of the Charter. With regard to the latter provision, the referring court questions, in particular, whether it is likely to have direct effect in a dispute such as that in the main proceedings, which concerns employment relationships between private persons.

    ...

    24) In those circumstances the työtuomioistuin (Labour Court) decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:

    ‘(1) Does Article 7(1) of Directive [2003/88] preclude a national provision in a collective agreement, or its interpretation, under which an employee who was incapacitated for work at the beginning of his annual leave or part thereof is not entitled, irrespective of any application by him, to carry over annual leave falling within the period in question and to which he is entitled under the collective agreement, if the employee’s entitlement to 4 weeks of annual leave is not reduced by reason of the fact that the leave under the collective agreement is not carried over?

    (2) Does Article 31(2) of the [Charter] have direct effect in an employment relationship between private legal subjects, that is to say, horizontal direct effect?

    (3) Does Article 31(2) of the [Charter] protect accrued leave, in so far as the duration of the leave exceeds the minimum annual leave of 4 weeks provided for in Article 7(1) of [Directive 2003/88], and does that provision of the [Charter] preclude a national provision in a collective agreement, or its interpretation, under which an employee who was incapacitated for work at the beginning of his annual leave or part thereof is not entitled, irrespective of any application by him, to carry over annual leave falling within the period in question and to which he is entitled under the collective agreement, if the employee’s entitlement to 4 weeks of annual leave is not reduced by reason of the fact that the leave under the collective agreement is not carried over?’

    ...

    28) As a workers’ representative organisation which had signed the freight transport sector collective agreement, AKT brought an action before the työtuomioistuin (Labour Court) seeking a declaration that the application of Paragraph 10(1) and (2) of that collective agreement could not lead to the application of the second subparagraph of Paragraph 25 of the Law on annual leave, as amended by Law (182/2016), in so far as the latter provision is, according to that organisation, contrary to Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88 and Article 31(2) of the Charter.

    ...

    41) By its third question in Cases C‑609/17 and C‑610/17, which must be examined second, the referring court asks, in essence, whether Article 31(2) of the Charter is to be interpreted as precluding national rules or collective agreements which provide for the granting of days of paid annual leave which exceed the minimum period of 4 weeks laid down in Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88, and yet exclude the carrying over of those days of leave on the grounds of illness.

    42) The scope of the Charter is defined in Article 51(1) thereof, according to which, so far as action by the Member States is concerned, the provisions of the Charter are addressed to those States only when they are implementing EU law (judgment of 13 June 2017, Florescu and Others, C‑258/14, EU:C:2017:448, paragraph 44 and the case-law cited). According to Article 51(2) thereof, the Charter does not extend the field of application of Union law beyond the powers of the Union or establish any new power or task for the Union, or modify powers and tasks as defined in the Treaties.

    ...

    44) In that regard, it should be borne in mind that, under Article 94 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice, the referring court is called on to explain the relationship between the provisions of EU law of which it seeks interpretation and the national legislation applicable to the dispute brought before it. The order for reference does not contain any element permitting a finding that the dispute in the main proceedings concerns the interpretation or the application of provisions of EU law other than Directive 2003/88 and Article 31(2) of the Charter.

    45) It is therefore necessary to verify whether national rules or collective agreements which provide for the granting of days of paid annual leave which exceed the minimum period of 4 weeks laid down in Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88 and yet exclude the carrying over of those days of leave on the grounds of illness are to be regarded as implementing that directive for the purposes of Article 51(1) of the Charter and whether, as a result, Article 31(2) thereof is intended to apply to situations such as those at issue in the main proceedings (see, to that effect, judgment of 6 November 2018, Bauer and Willmeroth, C‑569/16 and C‑570/16, EU:C:2018:871, paragraph 53 and the case-law cited).

    46) In that regard, it should be borne in mind that the mere fact that domestic measures come, as is the situation in the present case, within an area in which the European Union has powers cannot bring those measures within the scope of EU law, and, therefore, cannot render the Charter applicable (see, to that effect, judgment of 10 July 2014, Julián Hernández and Others, C‑198/13, EU:C:2014:2055, paragraph 36 and the case-law cited).

    ...

    53) Where the provisions of EU law in the area concerned do not govern an aspect of a given situation and do not impose any specific obligation on the Member States with regard thereto, the national rule enacted by a Member State as regards that aspect falls outside the scope of the Charter and the situation concerned cannot be assessed in the light of the provisions of the Charter (see, to that effect, judgments of 10 July 2014, Julián Hernández and Others, C‑198/13, EU:C:2014:2055, paragraph 35; of 14 December 2017, Miravitlles Ciurana and Others, C‑243/16, EU:C:2017:969, paragraph 34; and of 19 April 2018, Consorzio Italian Management and Catania Multiservizi, C‑152/17, EU:C:2018:264, paragraphs 34 and 35).

    54) Accordingly, by adopting national rules or authorising the negotiation of collective agreements which, like those at issue in the main proceedings, grant workers rights to days of paid annual leave which exceed the minimum period of 4 weeks laid down in Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88 and lay down the conditions for any carrying over of such additional rights in the event of the worker’s illness, the Member States are not implementing that directive for the purposes of Article 51(1) of the Charter.

    55) In the light of all of the foregoing, the answer to the third question in Cases C‑609/17 and C‑610/17 is that Article 31(2) of the Charter, read in conjunction with Article 51(1) thereof, must be interpreted as meaning that it is not intended to apply where national rules or collective agreements exist which provide for the granting of days of paid annual leave which exceed the minimum period of 4 weeks laid down in Article 7(1) of Directive 2003/88, and yet exclude the carrying over of those days of leave on the grounds of illness.

    ...

    57) Since these proceedings are, for the parties to the main proceedings, a step in the action pending before the national court, the decision on costs is a matter for that court. Costs incurred in submitting observations to the Court, other than the costs of those parties, are not recoverable.

    On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:

    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 not precluding national rules or collective agreements which provide for the granting of days of paid annual leave which exceed the minimum period of 4 weeks laid down in that provision, and yet exclude the carrying over of those days of leave on the grounds of illness.

    Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, read in conjunction with Article 51(1) thereof, must be interpreted as meaning that it is not intended to apply where such national rules or collective agreements exist.