In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice confirmed that workers under fixed-duration contracts enjoy rights similar to permanent workers.
The case was brought up by the Irish ‘Impact‘ trade union, which complained, in the name of 91 workers on fixed-term contracts, against the Irish government’s practice of employing a number of civil servants under a chain of fixed-term contracts. This, they said, excluded them from benefits that other government workers got, including pay rises and contributions to pension entitlements. The government could do so because it had failed to transpose the directive on fixed-term work (see ‘Background’) into Irish law in due time.
Since the case concerns Ireland’s transposition of an EU directive, the Irish Labour Court referred the case to the European Court of Justice.
On 15 April, the ECJ ruled that even where a member state has failed to properly transpose the non-discrimination clause into national law, the clause remains directly applicable. The Court also stressed that Ireland had an obligation to implement and enforce the directive on fixed-term work and that governments may not pass legislation aimed at circumventing the directive.