AUSTRIA - EU Court Rules Good Friday Law Discriminatory

Arno Froese

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Austrian law discriminated on grounds of religion and belief for not giving plaintiff Markus Achatzi 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.

What the ruling says:

• 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.”

In Austria, Good Friday is considered a public holiday for members of the “Evangelical Churches of the Augsburg and Helvetic Confessions, the Old Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church.”

Achatzi worked Good Friday in 2015, but did not receive a paid holiday or double pay for working because he did not belong to any of those churches. He sued his company for discriminating against him on religious grounds.

His case eventually reached the Austrian Supreme Court, which in turn asked the ECJ to rule whether the national law making Good Friday a public holiday for members of select churches was discriminatory in nature., 22 January 2019

Arno's commentary

The court has spoken, and Austria will have to amend its laws to be applicable to all people. Besides the about 30-days compulsory paid vacation and several weeks of sick pay, workers still get 9 days in the year for government-recognized public holidays. Yet, the country is amazingly successful on the balance sheet.

In Austria and many other European countries, religion is on the decline and does not play an important part in society. Yet 73.8% of Austrians identify as Catholic, 4.9% Protestant, 4.2% Muslim, 12% listed as “none,” and 2% unspecified. Austria and other European nations clearly show that a well-compensated, well-rested work force is the greatest contributor to the wellness of the country.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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