January 28, 2014

Workers in civil partnerships entitled to same benefits as married couples

In a case that could have a profound impact on employment contracts and welfare regimes, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that workers in civil partnerships are entitled to the same benefits as married couples.

In a judgement on 12 December 2013, the ECJ found that denying equal rights to benefits for those in civil partnerships amounted to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

This ruling comes in response to a case lodged in 2012 by Frederic Hay, a French bank worker with Credit Agricole. Mr Hay brought the case after being denied extra days of leave and a salary bonus given to newly-wed employees, despite entering a civil solidarity pact (PAC) with his partner in 2007.

PACs were introduced in 1999, giving legal recognition to same-sex couples, but did not offer the same benefits as to married couples.

Same-sex marriage only became possible in France earlier this year, when the French parliament adopted legislation on the issue in the face of protests from some church groups.

In a statement, the Court said that the failure of the collective agreement to offer identical benefits to same-sex couples who were not able to marry "gives rise to direct discrimination based on sexual orientation."

"The situation of persons who marry and that of persons of the same sex who cannot enter into marriage and therefore conclude a PAC is comparable for the purpose of the grant of the benefits in question," it added.

With more and more couples entering into civil partnerships and legislation changes impacting their employment rights, obtaining expert advice from legal professionals with experience in employment issues has never been more important.

At Royds, our employment law specialists can advise individuals on a range of discrimination issues which may affect individuals in civil partnerships.

For more information, please visit or contact Richard Woodman , Gemma Ospedale or Caroline Doran.

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