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Summaries of EU Legislation

Social security — equal treatment for men and women

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Social security — equal treatment for men and women

 

SUMMARY OF:

Directive 79/7/EEC — progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?

It aims to ensure respect for the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security.

KEY POINTS

This directive applies to:

  • statutory social security schemes which provide protection against sickness, invalidity, accidents at work and occupational diseases, unemployment and risks related to old age;
  • social assistance which supplements or replaces the basic schemes.

It does not apply to survivors' benefits and family benefits schemes.

Principle of equal treatment

This principle protects European citizens against discrimination on grounds of sex, whether direct* or indirect*, as regards:

  • the scope of the schemes and the conditions of access to them;
  • the obligation to contribute and the calculation of contributions;
  • the calculation of benefits and the conditions governing the duration and retention of entitlement to benefit.

Specific rules may be adopted to ensure the protection of pregnant women.

Retirement and pensions

EU countries may exclude from the scope of the directive:

  • the determination of pensionable age;
  • advantages granted to retired persons who have brought up children, specifically concerning periods of interruption of employment;
  • the granting of old-age or invalidity benefit entitlement connected with the derived entitlements of a spouse;
  • long-term benefits accorded to a spouse connected with the invalidity, old-age, accidents at work or the occupational disease of their spouse;
  • a right of option before the adoption of the Directive, specifically the option not to acquire rights or incur obligations under a statutory social security scheme.

EU countries periodically examine the necessity to exclude these categories in the light of social developments.

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

It had to become law in the EU countries by 1984.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

KEY TERMS

Direct discrimination: discrimination caused when one person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation.
Indirect discrimination: discrimination caused when an apparently neutral rule, criterion or practice would put persons of one sex at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons, unless that rule, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Council Directive 79/7/EEC of 19 December 1978 on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security (OJ L 6, 10.1.1979, pp. 24–25)

last update 26.06.2018

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