EU court upholds equality for pregnant workers

June 19, 2014

A landmark ruling today from the EU’s highest court has upheld the rights of pregnant EU nationals to equal treatment when claiming benefits.   The European Court of Justice ruled that a French national who was working in the UK and had to give up work because of the late stages of pregnancy should be entitled to income support.

Ms Saint Prix worked and studied as a teaching assistant in the UK for two years before having to give up work to give birth to her child.  The DWP refused her income support on their view that she did not have a 'right to reside' in the UK, and as a result she had to return to work earlier than usual.  She was represented in her appeal by the Child Poverty Action Group.

The Court noted that “EU law guarantees special protection for women in connection with maternity”.  It ruled that a woman who has to give up work or seeking work because of the late stages of pregnancy and the aftermath of childbirth should retain the status of a worker “provided she returns to work or finds another job within a reasonable period after the birth of her child.”  As a worker under EU law, Ms Saint Prix should not have been refused income support.

Michael Spencer, Solicitor for the Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“We are delighted that the European Court has recognised the rights of pregnant women to equal treatment under EU law.  This ruling will help British women living and working on the continent, as well as women from other EU states who currently live and work in the UK.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  • CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.
  • CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty coalition, which has members from across civil society including children’s charities, faith groups, unions and other civic sector organisation, united in their campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.

For further information please contact:

Tim Nichols

CPAG Press Officer

Tel. 020 7812 5216 or 07816 909302 

tnichols@cpag.org.uk

www.cpag.org.uk