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Oumar Dabo Abdoulaye and Others v Régie nationale des usines Renault SA , Case C-218/98, 16 September 1999

Facts: The plaintiffs were male workers at Renault. They claim that Article 18 of the agreement on social benefits for Renault employees was incompatible with the prohibition of discrimination guaranteed by Article 119 of the EC Treaty, which was implemented by Article L. 140-2 of the French Code du Travail (Employment Code). Article 18 of the Agreement provides that `when taking maternity leave, a female employee shall be granted a sum of FRF 7 500'

Holding: the principle of equal pay laid down in Article 119 of the EC Treaty (Articles 117 to 120 of the EC Treaty have been replaced by Articles 136 EC to 143 EC) does not preclude the making of a lump-sum payment exclusively to female workers who take maternity leave where that payment is designed to offset the occupational disadvantages which arise for those workers as a result of their being away from work.

Reasoning: Such disadvantages may consist in the fact that a woman on maternity leave may not be proposed for promotion; that, on her return, her period of service will be reduced by the length of her absence; that a woman on maternity leave may not claim performance-related salary increases; that she may not be able to take part in certain training; lastly, that, since new technology is constantly changing the nature of jobs, her adaptation on returning from maternity leave becomes complicated.


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