Sex discrimination: ECJ rules on sick-pay entitlement in relation to pregnancy-related illness

Author: Legal 500 [UK], Published on: 1 November 2005

In North Western Health Board v McKenna the European Court of Justice...considered whether it amounted to sex discrimination (i) for an employer to treat an employee absent due to pregnancy-related illness in an identical manner as employees absent for other ill-health reasons for the purposes of sick pay entitlement; and (ii) for an employer to offset absence due to a pregnancy-related illness against an employee’s total occupational sick pay entitlement...ECJ...ruled that it was not sex discrimination for a sick-leave scheme to treat all ill-health the same way for the purposes of reducing pay entitlement once absence exceeds a stipulated level...It...was lawful for a sick-leave scheme to provide that absences on grounds of illness are to be offset against a maximum total number of days of paid sick leave to which a worker is entitled over a specified period, whether or not the illness is pregnancy-related.

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