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PENSIONS

Constitutional Court rules pension system discriminates against part-time workers

European Court of Justice reached similar decision last November

Manuel V. Gómez

In line with a ruling handed down by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in November, Spain’s Constitutional Court found that the system used by the country’s Social Security system to calculate the pension rights of part-time workers was discriminatory.

“The differences in the treatment applied to the calculation of periods of when contributions are lacking that part-time workers continue to suffer with respect to full-time workers lack reasonable justification,” the Constitutional Court ruled.

The Court also said that since the majority of part-time workers are women (about 80 percent), the treatment is also tantamount to an “indirect form of gender discrimination.”

In response, the Social Security system said it “would look for alternatives to resolve the problem.”

The ECJ’s judgment stemmed from a case brought by a Spanish woman who had worked for four hours a week as a cleaner for 18 years. Her request for a contributory pension was denied by the Social Security system because, it argued, she had not fulfilled the minimum of 15 years’ worth of contributions.

Under the current system of calculating rights, the woman would have had to work for 100 years to reach the level of contributions required.

The Constitutional Court’s ruling stemmed from a question tabled by the Galician regional High Court about a woman who was also denied a contributory pension after having made contributions for 18 years, 11 of them as a part-time worker.

However, the Court said its ruling did not apply to previous similar cases in which part-time workers had their requests for a contributory pension denied.

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