Court rules in favour of employees in staff transfers

Public authorities in the EU have no free hand to change the terms and conditions of employees they inherit when taking over a private sector organisation, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.

It said when the public services adjust salaries by time served, a new employee’s working record for their former private employer should be taken into account.

A failure to do this would “be contrary to the spirit” of EU directive 77/187/EEC on the safeguarding of employees’ rights in the event of transfers of undertakings, ruled ECJ judges.

The case was brought by a Luxembourg civil servant whose private training agency had been taken over by the ministry of education, training and sport.

The government re-employed her, but dumped her at the bottom of its pay scale, wiping out 37% of her salary.

It was wrong “to treat an employee taken over from the transfer without taking length of service into account,” said the ECJ.

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