The plenary of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, convened on Friday to debate the constitutionality of a 2012 law scrapping a special bonus paid out to civil servants for the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays.
The legal representatives of the state, who want to uphold the law, said that rolling back the cuts could cost up to 4 billion euros in retroactive payments.
The final verdict on the issue will be issued in the next few months and will also determine the size of the retroactive payments to public sector employees if the court rules in their favors.
In late December 2018, a section of the Council of State found that the cuts violated the constitution.
Civil servants also cite as a precedent the landmark ruling by a plenary session of the Council of State in 2015 that said bringing an end to pensioners’ bonuses was unconstitutional.
The proceedings of Friday’s meeting were closely monitored by the government’s economic team, which will be called to deal with the fiscal impact of the ruling.
Judicial sources expect that the 2018 verdict will be upheld but it is not clear whether retroactive payments will be calculated from 2012 or from the day the Council of State rules that the cuts were unconstitutional.
Another issue that must be resolved if the 2012 law is scrapped is whether the retroactive payments will be made only to the civil servants that challenged the cuts or to all civil servants.