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Document 62016CJ0354

Judgment of the Court (First Chamber) of 13 July 2017.
Ute Kleinsteuber v Mars GmbH.
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Social policy — Directive 2000/78/EC — Articles 1, 2 and 6 — Equal treatment — Prohibition of any discrimination on grounds of sex — Occupational pension — Directive 97/81/EC — Framework Agreement on part-time work — Clause 4.1 and 4.2 — Method for calculating acquired pension rights — Legislation of a Member State — Different treatment of part-time workers.
Case C-354/16.

Judgment of the Court (First Chamber) of 13 July 2017.
Ute Kleinsteuber v Mars GmbH.
Request for a preliminary ruling from the Arbeitsgericht Verden.
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Social policy — Directive 2000/78/EC — Articles 1, 2 and 6 — Equal treatment — Prohibition of any discrimination on grounds of sex — Occupational pension — Directive 97/81/EC — Framework Agreement on part-time work — Clause 4.1 and 4.2 — Method for calculating acquired pension rights — Legislation of a Member State — Different treatment of part-time workers.
Case C-354/16.

Digital reports (Court Reports - general)

Case C‑354/16

Ute Kleinsteuber

v

Mars GmbH

(Request for a preliminary ruling from the Arbeitsgericht Verden)

(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Social policy — Directive 2000/78/EC — Articles 1, 2 and 6 — Equal treatment — Prohibition of any discrimination on grounds of sex — Occupational pension — Directive 97/81/EC — Framework Agreement on part-time work — Clause 4.1 and 4.2 — Method for calculating acquired pension rights — Legislation of a Member State — Different treatment of part-time workers)

Summary — Judgment of the Court (First Chamber), 13 July 2017

  1. Social policy—Framework agreement on part-time work concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC—Directive 97/81—Prohibition of discrimination against part-time workers—Male and female workers—Access to employment and working conditions—Equal treatment—Directive 2006/54—Calculation of the amount of an occupational pension—National legislation distinguishing between employment income falling below the ceiling for the calculation of contributions to the statutory pension scheme and employment income above that ceiling—Lawfulness

    (European Parliament and Council Directive 2006/54, Art. 4; Council Directive 97/81, Annex, Clause 4, points 1 and 2)

  2. Social policy—Framework agreement on part-time work concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC—Directive 97/81—Prohibition of discrimination against part-time workers—Male and female workers—Access to employment and working conditions—Equal treatment—Directive 2006/54—Calculation of the amount of an occupational pension—Employee having accumulated full-time and part-time employment periods—National legislation determining a uniform rate of activity for the total duration of the employment relationship—Lawfulness—Condition—Compliance with the pro rata temporis rule—Verification by the referring court

    (European Parliament and Council Directive 2006/54, Art. 4; Council Directive 97/81, Annex, Clause 4, points 1 and 2)

  3. Social policy—Equal treatment in employment and occupation—Directive 2000/78—Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of age—National legislation providing for an occupational pension in the amount corresponding to the ratio between the employee’s length of service and the length of the period between taking up employment in the undertaking and the normal retirement age, and applying a maximum limit of reckonable years of service—Justification based on the pursuit of legitimate aims—Lawfulness

    (Council Directive 2000/78, Arts 1, 2 and 6(1))

  1.  Clause 4.1 and 4.2 of the Framework Agreement on part-time work concluded on 6 June 1997, annexed to Council Directive 97/81/EC of 15 December 1997 concerning the Framework Agreement on part-time work concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC, as amended by Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation, must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation which, in calculating the amount of an occupational pension, distinguishes between employment income falling below the ceiling for the calculation of contributions to the statutory pension scheme and employment income above that ceiling, and which does not treat income from part-time employment by calculating first the income payable in respect of corresponding full-time employment, then determining the proportion above and below the contribution assessment ceiling and finally applying that proportion to the reduced income from part-time employment.

    In that regard, it must be recalled that the taking into account of the actual years of service of a worker throughout his career is an objective criterion that is unrelated to any discrimination, allowing his pension entitlement to be reduced proportionately (see, to that effect, judgment of 23 October 2003, Schönheit and Becker, C‑4/02 and C‑5/02, EU:C:2003:583, paragraph 91).

    First, it must be noted that, for employees who, because of part-time work, received a pensionable income generally below the ceiling for the calculation of contributions, the statutory pension scheme does not contain a gap in the benefits awarded, since all their income is covered by that scheme.

    It must be held, first, that the objective of the split formula, which aims to take account of the difference of cover needs for the remuneration bands below and above the contributions calculation ceiling, is an objective reason, for the purpose of Clause 4.1 of the Framework Agreement, justifying a difference in treatment such as that at issue in the main proceedings.

    In these circumstances, it cannot be held that the legislation at issue in the main proceedings amounts to discrimination on the ground of the type of work, for the purpose of the Framework Agreement or, therefore to infringement of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment between men and women within the meaning of Directive 2006/54.

    (see paras 30, 34, 38-40, operative part 1)

  2.  Clause 4.1 and 4.2 of that agreement and Article 4 of Directive 2006/54 must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation which, in calculating the amount of the occupational pension of an employee who has accumulated full-time and part-time employment periods, determines a uniform rate of activity for the total duration of the employment relationship, in so far as that calculation method of the pension does not violate the pro rata temporis rule. It is for the national court to satisfy itself that this is the case.

    In accordance with Clause 4.1 and 4.2 of the Framework Agreement, it must be determined whether part-time workers are treated less favourably than comparable full-time workers, by reason of the determination of a uniform rate of activity for reckonable years of service.

    The determination of a rate of part-time work appears to be a method of assessing the whole of the work carried out by the part-time worker. It cannot, on the other hand, be presumed, for the calculation concerning part-time workers, that they would have worked full-time during the period as a whole.

    (see paras 42, 43, 47, operative part 2)

  3.  Articles 1 and 2 and Article 6(1) of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation which provides for an occupational pension in the amount corresponding to the ratio between (i) the employee’s length of service and (ii) the length of the period between taking up employment in the undertaking and the normal retirement age under the statutory pension scheme, and in so doing applies a maximum limit of reckonable years of service.

    It is for the referring court, which alone has direct knowledge of the case before it, to carry out the necessary verifications to establish whether the legislation at issue in the main proceedings is, concretely and except in unforeseeable circumstances, likely to result in a difference in treatment indirectly based not on years of service, but on age.

    If that court were to find, at the end of that assessment, that there is such a difference in treatment, it must be recalled that, under Article 6(1) of Directive 2000/78, that difference will not be considered discrimination within the meaning of that directive, inasmuch as it is justified by a legitimate aim and the means to achieve that objective are appropriate and necessary.

    It must be considered that such objectives, which aim to establish a balance between the interests at issue, in the context of concerns falling within employment policy and social protection, in order to guarantee the provision of an occupational pension, may be considered public interest objectives.

    As regards the appropriateness of the legislation at issue in the main proceedings, it must be noted that the adoption of a method of calculating a right legally acquired in the event of early withdrawal from the employment relationship based on the pro rata temporis duration of the actual years of service compared to the possible years of service up to the normal age of retirement, and on the capping of reckonable years of service, does not seem unreasonable in the light of the objective of the occupational pension scheme at issue in the main proceedings.

    The same is true as regards the necessity of the legislation at issue in the main proceedings.

    (see paras 59, 62, 65-68, operative part 3)

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