Shorter annual leave for officials posted in a third country violates their fundamental right to paid annual leave

During the 2014 reform of the staff regulations, all the unions of the European Union institutions, including Generation 2004, established a platform in order to help the EU staff challenge the reformed measures before the General Court of the European Union (as far as annual leave, pensions, career, annual travel payment or travelling time are concerned).

 One of the challenged measures was the reformed Article 6 of Annex X to the Staff Regulations, which provides for a reduced number of annual leave days (24 instead of 42 per year) of staff members posted in a third country (Judgment Francisco Carreras Sequeros and Others v European Commission (CaseT-518/16)). On 4 December2018, the General Court issued a judgment, in which it declared the provision illegal.

The Court underlined that the right to annual leave of every worker is a particularly important principle of EU social law; its purpose is to improve the living and working conditions of staff,allowing them to rest, have a period of relaxation and recreation so as to protect their safety and health. The Court found that the significant reduction of the leave days of staff members posted to third countries infringed that fundamental right, and that this infringement cannot be justified by any purely economic objectives, and is not justified by any objectives of general interest. The Court explained that even though the interest of the service may in certain circumstances allow the modification of the statute in a way unfavourable for the staff, such a modification cannot affect the substance of the fundamental right. In other words, it needs to be ensured that staff posted to a third country, who are often in a particularly difficult situation, have sufficient protection of their health and safety.

In the light of these considerations,the Court declared that the provision is contrary to Article 31 (2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and annulled the contested decisions of 6applicants. As a result, in the future, all the officials posted to a third country may challenge the length of their annual leave if it is based on the contested Article 6 of Annex X.

For this reason, a template of a complaint (prepared by the lawyers who have been successful before the Court) will be available to you in case you want to contest the duration of your annual leave in 2019. This complaint must be submitted within three months from the update of your computerized personal file (which takes place on 1st January 2019).

 Your representatives will remain at your disposal to help you defend your rights.

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