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Sex discrimination: Legality of two-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal protection still unclear

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    R v Secretary of State for Employment ex parte Seymour-Smith and Perez [1999] IRLR 253 ECJ (2 other reports)

    • ECJ sends mixed signal

      Date:
      1 March 1999

      In R v Secretary of State for Employment ex parte Seymour-Smith and Perez (9 February 1998) EOR84A, the European Court of Justice sets out principles for determining whether a Member State has indirectly discriminated contrary to EU law.

    • Qualifying period remains uncertain

      Date:
      1 March 1999

      The European Court of Justice's long-awaited ruling in R v Secretary of State ex parte Seymour-Smith leaves it for the House of Lords to decide whether the increase in the qualifying period in 1985 for bringing a complaint of unfair dismissal from one to two years indirectly discriminated against women contrary to European Community law.

A judicial award of compensation for breach of the right not to be unfairly dismissed constitutes "pay" within the meaning of Article 119 of the Treaty of Rome, rules the European Court of Justice in R v Secretary of State for Employment, ex parte Seymour-Smith and Perez 9.2.99 Case C-167/97. However, the question of whether the two-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal protection amounts to indirect discrimination against women contrary to the equal pay principle contained in Article 119 is left largely for determination by UK domestic courts according to generally well-established principles.