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AG Opinion: Collective Redundancies May not Justify Dismissal of Pregnant Worker

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Under European law, is a collective redundancy an 'exceptional case' permitting the dismissal of a pregnant worker?

Not always - is the opinion of Advocate-General Sharpton, in Guisado v Bankia SA - there must be no plausible possibility of reassingment. The case involved a pregnant Spanish worker dismissed in a collective redundancy exercise.

The opinion considers the interaction of the EU's Maternity and Collective Redundancies directives. Collective redundancies, involving dismissal for 'one or more reasons not related to the individual workers concerned' will not automatically be 'exceptional cases' under the Maternity Directive permitting the dismissal of pregnant workers, 'there must be no plausible possibility of reassigning the pregnant worker to another suitable post'. The opinion gave an example of all but one secretarial posts being made redundant, with the remaining post filled, an employer might reasonably be expected to reassign a pregnant worker to as an administrative assistant, but not as a driver or welder.

The opinion is not binding on full court, which will determine the issues in the case at a later date, with potential ramifications for the application of Regulation 10 MAPLE 1999. A number of questions were considered, some related to aspects of Spanish law.


Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary