The decision of the European Committee of Social Rights on the merits of the complaint Central Union for Child Welfare (CUCW) v. Finland (No. 139/2016) became public on 4 February 2020.
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) adopted the decision on the merits on 11 September 2019.
In its decision, the ECSR concluded:
- by ten votes to four, that there is a violation of Article E taken in conjunction with Article 17§1(a) of the Charter;
The Committee noted that under the Act of 1 August 2016, children are discriminated against in the enjoyment of their right of access to early childhood education and care, limited to 20 hours per week when one of the parents is unemployed or caring for another child, on maternity, paternity or parental leave. The Committee considered that the difference in treatment suffered by those children, as compared to children whose parents are working, constituted a discrimination on the basis of the socio-economic status of the parents, which had no objective and reasonable justification.
- by twelve votes to two, that there is a violation of Article 27§1(c) of the Charter;
The Committee found unjustified discrimination between unemployed parents or parents on leave and working parents, in terms of access to childcare services, which penalises those who are in most need of support to be able to enter or re-enter employment.
- by thirteen votes to one, that there is a violation of Article E taken in conjunction with Article 16 of the Charter;
Under the Act of 1 August 2016, vulnerable or disadvantaged families face obstacles, as their right of access to childcare services is restricted according to their socio-economic status.
The Committee took note of the Government's intention to amend the 2016 Early Childhood Care and Education Act and to restore the previous subjective right of children to full-time early childhood care and education. The Committee considered that, if the new law enters into force and is properly implemented, the situation will no longer be in violation of Article E read in conjunction with Article 17§1(a), Article 27§1(c) and Article E read in conjunction with Article 16 of the Charter.