STJUE C-385/11 Elbal Moreno.- Contributory retirement pension / La legislación española sobre pensiones de jubilación contributivas es discriminatoria

pesnión jubilación trabajadora a tiempo parcialCase C-385/11 Elbal Moreno: JUDGMENT OF THE COURT on 22 November 2012.-  This reference for a preliminary ruling concerns the interpretation of Clause 4 of the Framework Agreement on part‑time work, concluded on 6 June 1997, which is set out in the Annex to Council Directive 97/81/EC of 15 December 1997 concerning the Framework Agreement on part‑time work concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC (OJ 1998 L 14, p. 9), as amended by Council Directive 98/23/EC of 7 April 1998 (OJ 1998 L 131, p. 10) (‘the Framework Agreement’), of Article 157 TFEU, of Article 4 of Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (OJ 2006 L 204, p. 23) and of Article 4 of Council Directive 79/7/EEC of 19 December 1978 on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security (OJ 1979 L 6, p. 24). The reference has been made in proceedings between Ms Elbal Moreno and the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (‘INSS’) (National Institute of Social Security) and the Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social (‘TGSS’) (General Social Security Fund) in relation to entitlement to a retirement pension.

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Asunto C- C-385/11 Elbal Moreno.- STJUE de 22 de noviembre de 2012.- La petición de decisión prejudicial tiene por objeto la interpretación de la cláusula 4 del Acuerdo marco sobre el trabajo a tiempo parcial, celebrado el 6 de junio de 1997, que figura en el anexo de la Directiva 97/81/CE del Consejo, de 15 de diciembre de 1997, relativa al Acuerdo marco sobre el trabajo a tiempo parcial concluido por la UNICE, el CEEP y la CES (DO 1998, L 14, p. 9), en su versión modificada por la Directiva 98/23/CE del Consejo, de 7 de abril de 1998 (DO L 131, p. 10) (en lo sucesivo, «Acuerdo marco»), y de los artículos 157 TFUE y 4 de la Directiva 2006/54/CE del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo, de 5 de julio de 2006, relativa a la aplicación del principio de igualdad de oportunidades e igualdad de trato entre hombres y mujeres en asuntos de empleo y ocupación (DO L 204, p. 23), así como la interpretación del artículo 4 de la Directiva 79/7/CEE del Consejo, de 19 de diciembre de 1978, relativa a la aplicación progresiva del principio de igualdad de trato entre hombres y mujeres en materia de seguridad social (DO 1979, L 6, p. 24; EE 05/02, p. 174). Dicha petición se presentó en el marco de un litigio entre la Sra. Elbal Moreno, por un lado, y el Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (INSS) y la Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social (TGSS), por otro, respecto a la obtención de una pensión de jubilación.

Trending topics: Article 157 TFEU – Directive 79/7/EEC – Directive 97/81/EC – Framework Agreement on part-time work – Directive 2006/54/EC – Contributory retirement pension – Equal treatment for male and female workers – Indirect discrimination on grounds of sex) / «Artículo 157 TFUE – Directiva 79/7/CEE – Directiva 97/81/CE – Acuerdo marco sobre el trabajo a tiempo parcial – Directiva 2006/54/CE – Pensión de jubilación contributiva – Igualdad de trato entre trabajadores y trabajadoras – Discriminación indirecta por razón de sexo»

The dispute in the main proceedings and the questions referred for a preliminary ruling.- On 8 October 2009, aged 66 years, Ms Elbal Moreno – the applicant in the main proceedings – applied to the INSS for a retirement pension. Previously, she had worked exclusively as a cleaner for a Residents’ Association part-time for four hours a week (10% of the 40-hour statutory working week in Spain) for 18 years. by decision of 13 October 2009, Ms Elbal Moreno’s application for a pension was refused on the ground that she had not completed the minimum contribution period of 15 years, required for entitlement to a retirement pension, as provided under Article 161(1)(b) of the LGSS. A complaint lodged by Ms Elbal Moreno on 30 November 2009 was dismissed by decision of the INSS on 9 December 2009. Whereas, in Ms Elbal Moreno’s case, proof was required of a minimum contribution period of 4 931 days, the decision recognised that she had completed a contribution period 1 362 days, broken down as follows: 41 days: from 24 October 1960 to 3 December 1960, full-time; 336 days: by assimilation, on account of three childbirths (3 x 112); 656 days: from 1 November 1991 to 30 October 2009, which is a period of 6 564 days, calculated at 10% on the basis of the part-time work; 329 days: by assimilation, the result of the correcting factor (1.5) established in the 7th Additional Provision of the LGSS.

Following the dismissal of her complaint, Ms Elbal Moreno brought an action before the Juzgado de lo Social de Barcelona (Social Court of Barcelona) in which she submitted that the Seventh Additional Provision of the LGSS, under which her application for a pension had been refused, entailed a breach of the principle of equality. That provision requires a part-time worker to pay contributions for a longer period than a full-time worker, even with the correcting factor represented by the 1.5 multiplier, in order to obtain a pension which is already proportionately lower. Ms Elbal Moreno also submitted that that rule entails indirect discrimination, since it is an indisputable statistical fact that women workers are the principal users of this type of contract (approximately 80%). Concerning the Seventh Additional Provision, the Juzgado de lo Social de Barcelona states that the legislation is based on the principle that only the hours actually worked are to be taken into consideration for determining the contribution periods required, although that is attenuated by two correcting rules with the aim of facilitating the access of part-time workers to Social Security protection.   Thus, first, a general concept of ‘theoretical day of contribution’, equivalent to five hours a day of actual work, or 1 826 hours a year, is established. The contributions made are taken into account in respect of the hours worked, by calculating the equivalent number of theoretical days of contribution. secondly, in order to give entitlement to retirement pensions and permanent invalidity allowances, a specific correcting rule is applied, consisting in a multiplier of 1.5 applied to the number of theoretical days of contribution. The latter are thus increased, thereby facilitating access to protection. However, according to the Juzgado de lo Social de Barcelona, so long as the Seventh Additional Provision of the LGSS takes into account only the hours worked and not the contribution period (the days worked), this ultimately results in the double application – albeit corrected – of the pro rata temporis principle. It proportionally requires a longer contribution period for entitlement to a retirement pension which will also be proportionally lower in its basis of assessment owing to the part-time nature of the working day. It follows that, in relation to contributions, a longer qualifying period is required from the part-time worker in inverse proportion to the reduction in his working hours in order to obtain a pension the amount of which is already directly and proportionately lower owing to the part-time nature of the work. The Juzgado de lo Social de Barcelona further states that, in the case of Ms Elbal Moreno, the application of the Seventh Additional Provision of the LGSS means that 18 years covered by contributions at the rate of 10% of the working day are treated, on the basis of the contribution period required for entitlement to a pension, as equal to less than 3 years of contributions. Accordingly, on the basis of a part-time contract of 4 hours a week, Ms Elbal Moreno would have to work for 100 years to complete the minimum necessary qualifying period of 15 years which would give her access to a pension of EUR 112.93 a month.    In those circumstances, the Juzgado de lo Social de Barcelona decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court for a preliminary ruling:

‘1)      Does a contributory retirement pension such as the one provided for under the Spanish Social Security system on the basis of the contributions made by and on behalf of the worker during the entirety of his working life fall within the concept of ‘employment conditions’ to which the prohibition of discrimination in Clause 4 of the Framework Agreement annexed to Directive 97/81 refers? 2)      If Question 1 were to be answered in the affirmative and a contributory retirement pension such as that governed by the Spanish Social Security system were to be regarded as falling within the concept of ‘employment conditions’ referred to in Clause 4 of the Framework Agreement annexed to Directive 97/81, is the prohibition of discrimination laid down in that clause to be interpreted as preventing or precluding national legislation which – as a consequence of the double application of the ‘pro rata temporis principle’ – requires a proportionally greater contribution period from a part-time worker than from a full-time worker for the former to qualify, if appropriate, for a contributory retirement pension in an amount reduced in proportion to the part-time nature of his work?  3)      As a supplementary question to the previous ones, may rules such as the Spanish rules (contained in the 7th Additional Provision of the LGSS) governing the method of contribution, access and quantification with regard to the contributory retirement pension for part-time workers be considered to be among the ‘aspects and conditions of remuneration’ to which the prohibition of discrimination in Article 4 of Directive 2006/54, and Article 157 TFEU (…), refer?  4)      As an alternative question to the previous ones, in the event that the Spanish contributory retirement pension were not regarded either as a ‘condition of employment’ or as ‘pay’: is the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sex, either directly or indirectly, laid down in Article 4 of Directive 79/7 to be interpreted as preventing or precluding national legislation which – as a consequence of the double application of the ‘pro rata temporis principle’ – requires a proportionally greater contribution period from part-time workers (the vast majority of whom are women) than from full-time workers for the former to qualify, if appropriate, for a contributory retirement pension in an amount reduced in proportion to the part-time nature of their work?’

Ruling: Article 4 of Council Directive 79/7/EEC of 19 December 1978 on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security must be interpreted as precluding, in circumstances such as those of the case before the referring court, legislation of a Member State which requires a proportionally greater contribution period from part-time workers, the vast majority of whom are women, than from full-time workers for the former to qualify, if appropriate, for a contributory retirement pension in an amount reduced in proportion to the part-time nature of their work.

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Comentario.-  El TJUE ha dictado sentencia en el asunto C-385/11, Elbal Moreno c. INSS y TGSS. En España, para obtener una pensión de jubilación contributiva, es necesario haber cumplido 65 años de edad y haber cubierto un período mínimo de cotización de 15 años. Para determinar los períodos de cotización exigidos, la normativa española se basa en el principio del cómputo exclusivo de las horas efectivamente trabajadas, calculando su equivalencia en días teóricos de cotización. Este método queda atenuado mediante dos reglas correctoras que buscan facilitar el acceso a la protección de la seguridad social a los trabajadores a tiempo parcial.

La Sra. Elbal Moreno trabajó exclusivamente como limpiadora de una comunidad de propietarios durante 18 años a jornada parcial de 4 horas a la semana. A la edad de 66 años, presentó una solicitud ante el INSS para obtener una prestación de jubilación. Dicha prestación le fue denegada por no reunir el período mínimo de cotización de 15 años exigido para poder causar derecho a la pensión de jubilación. En este contexto, el Juzgado de lo Social de Barcelona, que conoce del asunto, pregunta al TJUE si la Directiva 79/7/CEE, sobre la igualdad de trato entre hombres y mujeres en materia de seguridad social se opone a la legislación española.

El Juzgado remitente señala que, puesto que la legislación española computa exclusivamente las horas trabajadas y no el período de cotización, es decir, los días trabajados, comporta, a la postre, la doble aplicación del principio pro rata temporis. Así, se exige una mayor carencia de cotización al trabajador a tiempo parcial, en inversa proporción a la reducción de su jornada, para acceder una pensión que en su importe ya se ve directa y proporcionalmente reducida en razón de la parcialidad de jornada. En el caso de la Sra. Elbal Moreno, la aplicación de la legislación española implica que las cotizaciones pagadas durante 18 años al 10 % de la jornada equivalen a un pago de cotizaciones durante un período de menos de 3 años, por lo cual tendría que trabajar 100 años para acreditar la carencia mínima necesaria de 15 años que le permitiera el acceso a una pensión de jubilación de 112,93 euros al mes.

En su sentencia, el Tribunal de Justicia declara que la Directiva sobre la igualdad de trato entre hombres y mujeres en materia de seguridad social se opone a la normativa española, que exige a los trabajadores a tiempo parcial –en su inmensa mayoría mujeres–, en comparación con los trabajadores a tiempo completo, un período de cotización proporcionalmente mayor para acceder a una pensión de jubilación contributiva cuya cuantía ya ha sido reducida proporcionalmente a la parcialidad de su jornada.

Fuente: Comunicado de Prensa 152/12, de 22 de noviembre

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