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Four Weeks Paid Holiday Under EU Law Has Direct Effect

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[Thanks to Dr John McMullen of Wrigleys Solicitors LLP for preparing this case summary]

Does the right to four weeks annual paid leave under Art (7)(1) of the EU Working Time Directive have direct effect?

Yes, says the Court of Justice of the European Union in Dominguez v Centre informatique du Centre Ouest Atlantique, provided the employer is the State or an emanation of the State.

Ms Dominguez's claim against the Centre informatique du Centre Ouest Atlantique (CICOA) (a social security body) arose under the French Civil Code. Under the Code du Travail a worker is only entitled to paid annual leave if she has worked for ten days or a month during the reference period. The CJEU (Grand Chamber) ruled that Art 7(1) must be interpreted as precluding national provisions or practices which make entitlement to paid annual leave subject to such conditions.

The national law must therefore be interpreted, where possible, with a view to ensuring that Art 7 is fully effective, using all the interpretative methods available to it. In the event that this were not possible, it was necessary to consider direct effect.

The provisions of Art 7 were unconditional and sufficiently precise for direct effect against the State or an emanation of the State as employer. It was for the national court to determine the legal status of the employer in question (the CICOA), for that purpose.

Failing these routes to a remedy, the Court reminded us that a party injured as a result of domestic law not conforming with European law may nonetheless rely on the judgement in Francovich and others [1991] ECR 1-5357 in order to obtain, if appropriate, compensation for the loss sustained.