Well, it’s a straightforward question with a predictable answer. However, it’s got as far as the Court of Justice of the European Communities (formerly the European Court of Justice). The decision of the European Court includes in its summary the delightfully philosophical question “what is the meaning of birth?”!
Mrs Chatzi was employed at a tax office in Thessaloniki, Greece, and in May 2007 gave birth to twins. Under national legislation she was entitled to nine months’ parental leave. In January 2009 she applied for a further nine months for the other twin and this was refused in May 2009. The case was referred to the European Court on the grounds of discrimination by virtue of birth and whether the Charter of Fundamental Rights applied to each of the twins or the mother.
Sensibly, the CJEC took the view that the rights in this context apply to the mother (in her context as a worker) and not the children. The stated purpose of the Parental Leave Directorate is to “facilitate the reconciliation of parental and professional responsibilities for working parents” (rather than their children).
But that was not the end of the story. What is the position if children are born in quick succession but not twins? I won’t trouble you with the detail of the judgment but the decision of the European Court is that it wont get involved in such issues and it is up to the national court to make its mind up based on the particular facts of the case!