The Court of Mons in Belgium has been asked by a Ryanair’s cabin crew member to rule on the question whether the “home base” for crew members when situated in the UE should be considered as the “habitual place of work” in the sense of European legislation. To be able to make this ruling the Court of Mons has introduced a prejudicial question to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the 26/04/2016 to help to clarify this issue. To that aim the ECJ has asked member states to give their opinion.
Deadline for that opinion was on June 28th 2016. EurECCA, through their affiliated unions, urged member states to confirm to the ECJ the definition of the “habitual place of work” can be assimilated to the definition of the “effective home base”.
If the answer is positive and the ECJ confirms that the ‘home base’ should be considered as such, it will mean that Belgian courts would be competent to decide the case and Belgian labour and social legislations will apply to these Ryanair crew members. At the same time, the ruling of the ECJ is directly applicable and therefore, courts in all EU would have to follow the reasoning.
Why is this an important decision for European cabin crew? Previously a French court ruled in approximately the same way stating that an operating base is a set of premises or infrastructure from which a company has a stable, regular and continuing air transport business with employees who have their effective centre of activity at that base. The last part of that sentence is important.
However, recently a court in Bergamo, Italy, ruled completely the opposite. In Bergamo the judge ruled that the registration of the aircraft determines the ‘home base’ of crew members.
EurECCA position is to reinforce and to apply the links between the “home base” and
- Social security matters (Regulation 465/2012/EC)
- Labour law applicable (Regulation 593/2008 on the law applicable to contracts: place from which aircrew habitually works must be assimilated to the home base)
- Jurisdiction matters (Regulation 1215/2012)
The ruling of the Court of Mons is therefor of utmost importance to settle the “home base” issue, but can also solve many other problems including the flags of convenience because for any crew member working from or in Europe the judgement of the ECJ will apply.