Under labour law in Austria, only members of four churches are entitled to get the Christian holy day as a public holiday. But this could soon change.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on January 22 that this is discriminatory on grounds of religion and belief. This is according to the court’s ruling in a case filed by plaintiff Markus Achatzi, who was not given holiday pay for working on Good Friday, a holy day for several Christian denominations marking the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Security agent Achatzi sued his company, Cresco Investigation of Vienna, in 2017 for additional pay for working on Good Friday, considered a public holiday for members of select churches. Austria’s Supreme Court asked the ECJ to rule whether the national law was discriminatory in nature.
According to the court’s ruling, granting “paid public holiday on Good Friday only to employees who are members of certain churches constitutes discrimination on grounds of religion and is prohibited under EU law”.
“Until Austria has amended its legislation, in order to restore equal treatment, a private employer who is subject to that legislation is obliged also to grant his other employees a public holiday on Good Friday.”
The Court concluded that the legislation at issue cannot be considered necessary for the protection of freedom of religion.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, it is now up to the Austrian judiciary to settle the case in accordance with the ECJ’s ruling since Europe’s top court “does not decide the dispute itself”.