Access to employment and career progression for women in the European labour market
The growing complexity in working arrangements has made it difficult to target employment legislation effectively. Utilisation of the existing provisions of Community law requires a reorientation of the traditional conceptualisation of gender relations. This is possible through the application of broad principles, as provided for by the Treaty and the general scheme of Community law, to specific circumstances. The Court of Justice occupies a unique institutional position in this respect as the only authority capable of undertaking such a task coherently and consistently. This thesis considers the Court’s reasoning in a group of cases concerning the right to equal treatment of women workers classified as ‘atypical’ on account of their working arrangements. The purpose of the thesis is to uncover the extent to which the Court’s adjudications on cases referred under the Article 234 procedure can be characterised as having a common output amounting to an identifiable jurisprudence on gender relations. In order to accomplish this task, a systematic analysis of a range of cases conforming to certain specified criteria is undertaken through which the Court’s application of certain key principles is examined. The findings reveal inconsistencies in terms of the Court’s theoretical dogma and its conceptualisation of the basic tenets of equality which are not discernible from an assessment of its judgements alone. It is concluded that a reassessment of the relative positions and roles of women and men within contemporary society is required in order to enable a more effective application of the law in this respect, starting with the standardisation of ‘atypical’ working arrangements.