Male French civil servants who argued that, like women, they should be able to take early retirement if they have three or more children, have lost a legal challenge in the European Court of Human Rights.
Fifteen former fonctionnaires (government officials) lost a joint claim that the state had breached their rights by denying them the early retirement privileges enjoyed by female workers with more than two children. They also lost a case against the state for higher pensions to reflect their fatherhood. “The court finds no apparent breach of rights and liberties guaranteed by the Convention on Human Rights,” the judges in Strasbourg ruled yesterday.
The early retirement right was reformed in 2012, but civil servants who completed 15 years’ service before that year and stopped. The early retirement right was reformed in 2012, but civil servants who completed 15 years’ service before that year and stopped work for at least two months to care for the children can still retire with the handsome pension whenever they want.
The aggrieved men, who included lecturers and administrators, claimed that they were refused benefits that were available to mothers, despite a 2003 equality law that they said should have made them eligible. The parental early retirement stemmed from France’s 90-year-old policy of promoting a higher birth rate by rewarding people significantly for producing large families. France’s state benefits for large families remain among the most generous in the world, despite attempted reforms.
As well as receiving good family allowances, parents are also granted steep reductions in income tax. Passes give families such things as 30 per cent reductions on rail and underground transport for having three children and 40 per cent for four. Workers in both the private and public sector receive state pensions that are 10 per cent higher if they have had three or more children. About a quarter of the workforce is employed by the state and public enterprises.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE TIMES
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