EU Court Settles Spat Over Wages for Part-Time Leave

(CN) – Europe’s highest court rapped a construction company Thursday for relying on a part-time worker’s gross wages, rather than his normal hourly rate, to calculate how much he was owed on annual leave.

In the German construction industry, collective-bargaining rules state that workers are entitled to 30 days of annual leave, regardless of whether they performed actual work hours during periods of what is described in the ruling as “short-time working.”

Because of short-time working in 2015, concrete worker Torsten Hein did not perform actual work for 26 weeks while he was employed at Albert Holzkamm GmbH. When Hein took the 30 days of leave that he accrued that year, Holzkamm reduced his compensation significantly by paying him on the basis of his gross hourly, rather than normal hourly, wage. 

Hein challenged that calculation at the labor court in Verden, Germany, which in turn referred the matter to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Handing a mixed bag to the litigants on Thursday, that court’s Fourth Chamber determined that, “workers must receive their normal remuneration” through their annual-leave time, but that employers need not necessarily provide the maximum four weeks of leave to short-time workers.

“Thus, in the present case, since, in 2015, Mr Hein did not perform actual work for 26 weeks, it is apparent that, in principle, only two weeks of leave are governed by Article 7(1), but the exact duration of that period of leave is a matter for the referring court to determine,” the ruling states.

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