MIUR e Ufficio Scolastico Regionale per la Campania
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Judgement date :13/01/2022
This case concerns national legislation precluding Catholic religious education teachers in public schools from the scope of the rules penalising abuse arising from the use of successive fixed-term contracts. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that such an exclusion is precluded by clause 5 of the framework agreement on fixed-term work which is annexed to Council Directive 1999/70/EC concerning the framework agreement on fixed-term work concluded by the ETUC, UNICE and CEEP.
In this case the applicants, Catholic religious education teachers who have been employed in public education establishments for many years under successive fixed-term contracts, were not able to convert their fixed-term contracts into employment relationships of indefinite duration as they were not eligible for tenure under the mechanism laid down in national law.
According to the CJEU, while the temporary employment of a worker in order to satisfy the employer’s temporary and specific staffing requirements may, in principle, constitute an ‘objective reason’ within the meaning of Clause 5(1)(a) of the framework agreement, it cannot be accepted that fixed-term employment contracts may be renewed for the purpose of the performance, in a fixed and permanent manner, of tasks which normally come under the activity of the education sector. [Para. 105].
The CJEU further held that the requirement to hold a suitability certificate, which Catholic religious education teachers must have in order to teach that subject, cannot constitute an ‘objective reason’ within the meaning of Clause 5(1)(a) of the framework agreement, as that certificate is issued once, irrespective of the length of the contract given to the Catholic religious education teacher concerned. [Para. 112].
The CJEU concludes therefore that Clause 5 of the framework agreement must be interpreted, first, as precluding national legislation excluding Catholic religious education teachers in public education establishments from the scope of the rules intended to penalise abuse arising from the use of successive fixed-term contracts and, second, as meaning that the requirement to hold a suitability certificate issued by an ecclesiastical authority for the purposes of allowing those teachers to provide Catholic religious education does not constitute an ‘objective reason’ within the meaning of Clause 5(1)(a) of the framework agreement, because that certificate is issued once and not before each school year leading to the conclusion of a fixed-term employment contract. [Para. 125].