The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that workers hired through a temporary employment agency have the right to compensation for a work-related accident that causes permanent disability equal to that provided to employees hired directly by the company, Forbes Spain reports.

The Feb. 22 ruling follows a preliminary ruling referred by the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country (an autonomous community located on the border of Spain and France) regarding a case that sought to clarify the amount of compensation to be granted to a temporary worker who suffered a work accident while on assignment. The worker in the case was assigned by a temporary employment firm to infrastructure company Serveo Servicios (formerly Ferrovial Servicios); the accident caused him permanent disability and led to the termination of his employment relationship.  

Spanish legislation provides for workers assigned by temporary employment companies to receive €10,500 in compensation for total permanent disability due to a work-related accident, according to the collective agreement of temporary employment companies; meanwhile, the compensation for the same situation included in the collective agreement of the transport sector amounts to €60,101. The worker assigned to Serveo was paid the temporary employee rate of compensation but maintained that he was entitled to higher compensation because the case falls within the concept of “essential conditions of work and employment” included in the EU’s directive on temporary employment. 

In its ruling, the Luxembourg-based court clarifies that the principle of equal treatment established in the directive ascertains that workers assigned during a job at a company must enjoy conditions “at least equal” to those that would correspond to permanent employees. 

The Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country pointed out that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Spanish regulations is that temporary agency workers only have the right to the compensation provided for by the Temporary Employment Agency Convention. However, the CJEU points out that although member states may provide for exceptions under certain precise conditions to the principle of equal treatment, in this case it is not observed that any of these exceptions apply.