Press and Information Division


29 November 2001

Judgment of the Court in Case C-366/99

Joseph Griesmar v French Republic


The exclusion of such men from entitlement to the service credits granted to retired civil servants who are mothers is, the Court holds, contrary to the principle of equal pay if those fathers can prove that they brought up their children.

Mr Griesmar, a French magistrat and father of three children, received a retirement pension calculated on the basis of the years of service that he had actually completed, in accordance with the legislation in force at the time. The service credit which female civil servants who are mothers receive in respect of each child was not included in the calculation of Mr Griesmar's pension, and he took the view that he was the victim of sex discrimination contrary to Community law.

The matter was brought before the French Conseil d'État by Mr Griesmar, who challenged what he considered to be discrimination as between men and women. The Conseil d'État asked the Court of Justice whether, essentially, a retirement pension for a civil servant was to be regarded as constituting pay and, if so, whether the credits granted to female civil servants in respect of each child were compatible with the principle of equal pay as between men and women.

Following its own case-law in matters of social policy, the Court reaffirmed that retirement pensions for civil servants, who constitute a particular category of workers, did indeed constitute pay since they were directly linked to the post previously occupied. That being so, the principle of equality as between men and women had to apply.

The question posed thus made it necessary to determine whether the credit granted in respect of each child was linked to the career-related disadvantages incurred during maternity leave - which could not concern men - or whether it was intended to offset disadvantages that result from bringing up a child, in which case male civil servants would, as Mr Griesmar argued, be entitled to claim it.

The Court noted that the grant of this credit was in no way dependent on maternity leave; quite on the contrary, it was based on the longer period devoted to bringing up a child.

Further, the situations of male civil servants and female civil servants could be comparable in regard to the bringing-up of children and could have the same consequences for their respectivecareers. The French Pensions Code, however, did not establish a method for the calculation of retirement that was identical for both a female civil servant and a male civil servant, even if the latter were able to prove that he had brought up his children. There was thus a difference in treatment based on sex that adversely affected French civil servants who were fathers and who had in fact assumed the task of bringing up their children.

Contrary to the argument put forward by the French Government, the Court took the view that the credit granted to civil servants who were mothers could not be authorised as being a measure designed to help women in their career since, being granted at the date of their retirement, it did not provide a remedy for the problems which they might encounter in the course of their professional career. The Court concluded that career-related difficulties encountered by mothers could not be resolved by means of the service credit at issue in the present case.

The Court also decided not to limit in time the effects of its judgment, thereby turning down the request of the French Government, which had alluded to potential financial consequences.

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