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On the method of paying unemployment insurance benefits

Case No. 19/2012

 THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

IN THE NAME OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF ITEM 39 OF THE REGULATIONS ON UNEMPLOYMENT SOCIAL INSURANCE PAYMENTS, AS APPROVED BY RESOLUTION NO. 1656 OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA OF 24 DECEMBER 2004, WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 14 February 2014

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Toma Birmontienė, Pranas Kuconis, Gediminas Mesonis, Vytas Milius, Ramutė Ruškytė, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis, and Dainius Žalimas

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1 and 531 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, on 5 February 2014, at the Court’s sitting, considered, under written procedure, constitutional justice case No. 19/2012 subsequent to the petition (No. 1B-30/2012) of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Item 39 of the Regulations on Unemployment Social Insurance Payments, as approved by the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1656) “On the Approval of the Regulations on Unemployment Social Insurance Payments” of 24 December 2004, insofar as, after establishing that “an unemployment insurance payment shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania”, it did not provide for any other methods of paying unemployment social insurance payments, granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by law, to their recipients, is not in conflict with Article 52 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

  1. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioner, was considering, under appellate procedure, an administrative case in which the dispute, in substance, arose due to the fact that the granted unemployment insurance payment had not been paid in a manner requested by one of the applicants in that case, i.e., “by postal order to the indicated postal address”.

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, having noted that the dispute in the administrative case at issue had arisen not due to the right to receive an unemployment insurance payment but due to the manner of paying an unemployment insurance payment to its recipient, i.e. the method of payment established in Item 39 of the Regulations on Unemployment Social Insurance Payments (hereinafter also referred to as the Regulations), as approved by the Government Resolution (No. 1656) “On the Approval of the Regulations on Unemployment Social Insurance Payments” of 24 December 2004, suspended the consideration of the said administrative case and applied to the Constitutional Court.

  1. The petition of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioner, is substantiated by the following arguments.

A legal regulation virtually analogous to the legal regulation impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue was laid down in Item 61 (wording of 27 September 2006) of the Regulations on Sickness and Maternity Social Insurance Benefits, as approved by the Government Resolution (No. 86) “On the Approval of the Regulations on Sickness and Maternity Social Insurance Benefits” of 25 January 2001, which, insofar as, after establishing that “sickness <...> benefits shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the benefit recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania”, had not provided for any other methods of paying sickness benefits, granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by law, to their recipients, was ruled by the Constitutional Court in its ruling of 31 October 2012 to be in conflict with Article 52 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

According to the official constitutional doctrine, social assistance provided by the state, including social assistance in the event of unemployment, must be real and effective, and the relevant legal acts may not establish any such conditions for or limitations to the provision of such assistance that, due to perfunctory reasons, would deny the right of a person to receive the said assistance and would be obviously unjust. Item 39 of the Regulations consolidated such a procedure for paying an unemployment social insurance payment (hereinafter also referred to as an unemployment insurance payment) that provided for the only method of payment—the transfer of the granted payment to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, and it allowed for no exceptions. Thus, the recipients of the payment in question were obliged to fulfil additional conditions in order to receive the said payment; the relevant regulation disproportionately burdened the receipt of the payment (the person was obliged to take on additional obligations, i.e., to incur additional expenses as a result of holding a personal account exceptionally in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania) or made it altogether impossible where a recipient of the granted payment did not hold a personal account in any credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania. In addition, the petitioner believes that Item 39 of the Regulations consolidated such a legal regulation that, according to the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and Article 52 of the Constitution, may be established exclusively by means of a law. Since a person having the status of an unemployed person entitled to receive an unemployment insurance payment should not suffer any negative consequences or additional difficulties as a result of the perfunctory application of Item 39 of the Regulations, the petitioner also doubts whether Item 39 of the Regulations, in view of its content, was in line with the indicated provisions of the Constitution.

II

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s sitting, written explanations were received from Rita Visockienė, the Head of the Law Division of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania, Gintarė Vizbaraitė, the Deputy Head of the same division, and Olga Turčenkovienė, a chief specialist at the Labour Market Division of the Labour Department of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, who were acting as the representatives of the Government, the person concerned, in which it is maintained that the impugned legal regulation is not in conflict with the Constitution. The position of the representatives of the party concerned is substantiated by the following arguments.The Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Unemployment Social Insurance (hereinafter also referred to as the Law) regulates legal unemployment social insurance relations and, thus, also the right to an unemployment insurance payment as well as the conditions for granting, calculating, and paying unemployment insurance payments; the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law, is established in the Regulations. Under the Constitutional Court’s doctrine, sub-statutory legal acts (thus, also government resolutions) may establish certain procedures for implementing the laws governing the relations of social security and social assistance: a sub-statutory legal regulation governing the relations of social security and social assistance may include the establishment of relevant procedures.All persons of working age, as a rule, hold personal accounts; therefore, even in the event of the loss of work, it is possible for them to indicate their personal account to which unemployment insurance payments could be transferred. In addition, the establishment of the aforesaid procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, under which the said payments are to be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, is aimed at ensuring the maximum protection of the ownership of the persons concerned (in particular, taking account of the presumption that unemployment insurance payments constitute the sole source of subsistence for unemployed persons during a particular period of their unemployment) as well as reducing the risk of the possibility of an unlawful enrichment of the third persons if the said payments were paid, for instance, in cash.Contrary to what has been maintained by the petitioner, paying unemployment insurance payments is not identical to paying sickness benefits. In its ruling of 31 October 2012, the Constitutional Court, when deciding regarding the compliance of a legal regulation laid down in the Regulations on Sickness and Maternity Social Insurance Benefits with the Constitution, invoked the provisions of the constitutional doctrine concerning the legal regulation applicable in the cases where, due to health disorders, a person, on either a temporary or permanent basis, has not acquired or has lost the possibilities of earning a living from work, or where such possibilities of the said person have significantly diminished. Differently from, inter alia, the recipients of sickness benefits, who receive payments upon the insured event (having temporarily lost their capacity to work), the recipients of unemployment insurance payments receive unemployment insurance payments in the event of unemployment, i.e. in the cases provided for by law, they are compensated for the income (or part of it) lost due to unemployment. Thus, in this case, the aspect of sickness is not any such relevant aspect due to which the freedom of movement or freedom of a certain person (the payment recipient) to perform certain actions could be limited.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

  1. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioner, requests an investigation into whether Item 39 of the Regulations, insofar as, after establishing that “an unemployment insurance payment shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania”, it did not provide for any other methods of paying unemployment social insurance payments, granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by law, to their recipients, is not in conflict with Article 52 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.
  2. On 24 December 2004, the Government adopted Resolution (No. 1656) “On the Approval of the Regulations on Unemployment Social Insurance Payments”, by means of which it approved the Regulations on Unemployment Social Insurance Payments.

2.1. Inter alia: the Regulations regulated the procedure for granting and calculating unemployment insurance payments (Item 1); the Regulations established that unemployment social insurance, on a compulsory basis, covered persons specified in the Law on Unemployment Social Insurance (Item 3) and that unemployment insurance payments were granted to the unemployed who met the requirements established by the Law (Item 6); the Regulations laid down the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments (Items 38 and 39).

2.2. Thus, the Regulations governed, inter alia, the procedure for granting, on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law, as well as paying unemployment insurance payments.

2.3. Item 39 of the Regulations, which is impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue, prescribed: “An unemployment insurance payment shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania.”

2.4. Thus, Item 39 of the Regulations consolidated the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments insofar as it was related to the method of paying unemployment insurance payments; that procedure provided for the only method of paying unemployment insurance payments to persons to whom these payments have been granted (calculated) on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law—the transfer of an unemployment insurance payment to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania.

Consequently, under Item 39 of the Regulations, a person (a recipient of an unemployment insurance payment) could receive (was eligible for) an unemployment insurance payment, granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law, if that person held a personal account in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania and had indicated that account to the relevant state establishment, which was to transfer the granted unemployment insurance payment to that indicated account.

2.5. Neither Item 39 of the Regulations nor other items of the Regulations valid at the time of the consideration of the aforesaid administrative case by the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioner, provided for any other method (methods) of paying an unemployment insurance payment to (receiving it by) a person to whom such a payment was granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law.

  1. It should be noted that, through Item 1 of the Government Resolution (No. 1551) “On Amending the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1656) ‘On the Approval of the Regulations on Unemployment Social Insurance Payments’ of 24 December 2004” of 19 December 2012, the Government resolved to amend the Regulations and set them in their new wording. The latter resolution came into force on 1 January 2013.

3.1. In the Regulations as set forth in their new wording, the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, insofar as it is related to the method of paying these payments, is consolidated in Item 33 (wording of 19 December 2012): “An unemployment insurance payment shall be transferred to the personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, or, where an unemployed person does not hold any account in a credit establishment, an unemployment insurance payment shall be paid to its recipient in the manner prescribed by the Fund Board in a payment establishment (division thereof) chosen by the Fund Board under the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Public Procurement (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1996, No. 84-2000; 2006, No. 4-102).”

3.2. Thus, in addition to the existing method of paying unemployment insurance payments—the transfer of an unemployment insurance payment to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania—as established by the previous legal regulation, Item 33 of the Regulations (wording of 19 December 2012) has consolidated a new, additional, method of paying unemployment insurance payments: unemployment insurance payments may be paid according to the procedure established by the State Social Insurance Fund Board under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour in a payment establishment (division thereof) chosen in the manner prescribed in the Law on Public Procurement.

Consequently, the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments as consolidated in the Regulations (wording of 19 December 2012) was no longer the only established method of paying an unemployment insurance payment to a person to whom it has been granted (calculated) on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law; thus, from the aspect from which the compliance of Item 39 of the Regulations with the Constitution is being investigating in the constitutional justice case at issue, the legal regulation governing the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments has changed in substance since the adoption of the Regulations in their new wording.

  1. The Regulations governed and are still governing, inter alia, the procedure for granting, on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law, as well as paying unemployment insurance payments.
  2. On 16 December 2003, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania adopted the Law on Unemployment Social Insurance, which came into force on 1 January 2005 (with a certain exception).

5.1. This law establishes, inter alia, the categories of persons covered by unemployment insurance, as well as the right to an unemployment insurance payment and the conditions for granting, calculating, and paying that payment (Article 1). The said law also specified and specifies persons covered by unemployment insurance (Article 4), the conditions for being entitled to an unemployment insurance payment (Article 5), the conditions for granting an unemployment insurance payment (Article 6), the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments—the periodicity of payment, the period of payment, and the periods not included in the period during which an unemployment insurance payment is paid (Article 7), an amount of an unemployment insurance payment (Article 8), the cases where an unemployment insurance payment is not granted (Article 9) or its payment is suspended (Article 10) or terminated (Article 11).

5.2. Consideration should be given to the following provisions of the Law, which disclose the specificity of unemployment insurance, inter alia, the provisions defining persons entitled to an unemployment insurance payment:

– unemployment insurance is a type of social insurance, which, inter alia, in the cases provided for by law, compensates persons covered by this type of insurance for the loss of their income or part of it due to unemployment (Article 2);

– only the insured persons who are specified in the Law and are registered as the unemployed with the territorial labour exchange and meet the conditions established in the Law are entitled to an unemployment insurance payment (Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 5 (wording of 18 June 2009));

– an unemployment insurance payment is not granted, and the payment of the granted unemployment insurance payment is terminated, inter alia, where, prior to granting that payment or during the period when such a granted payment is paid, the unemployed person refuses a suitable job offer (Item 1 (wording of 18 June 2009) of Article 9, Item 1 of Article 11), as well as where the unemployed person refuses, without any good reason, to participate in the measures of an active labour market that are provided for in his or her individual employment activity plan (Item 2 (wording of 18 June 2009) of Article 9) or in the measures of an active labour market policy that are provided for in his or her individual employment plan (Item 2 (wording of 18 June 2009) of Article 11).

5.3. Thus, unemployment insurance compensates persons covered by this type of insurance for the loss of their income or part of it due to unemployment provided these persons meet the conditions established by the Law, inter alia, the condition that they must be registered as the unemployed with the territorial labour exchange; the unemployed who meet the conditions established in the Law for being entitled to an unemployment insurance payment are granted and paid an unemployment insurance payment only in the cases where they meet the conditions established for receiving the said payment—inter alia, the condition that an unemployed person must participate in the measures of an active labour market, i.e., with a view to creating preconditions for employing unemployed persons (or preconditions enabling them to obtain employment themselves), the law lays down the requirement that such persons should be active.

5.4. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, the following provisions of the Law should also be mentioned:

– unemployment insurance payments are granted and paid by the Lithuanian Labour Exchange through the territorial labour exchanges in accordance with the procedure set forth in the Regulations on Unemployment Insurance Payments (Item 1 of Article 20);

– it is proposed that the Government approve the Regulations on Unemployment Insurance Payments and that these regulations, inter alia, establish the procedure for granting and paying unemployment insurance payments, taking into account the reasons for dismissal from work (Item 4 of Article 24).

5.5. It should be noted that the Law did not (and does not) establish any concrete methods of paying (receiving) unemployment insurance payments.

5.6. Thus, under Item 4 of Article 24 of the Law, the Government is authorised, inter alia, to establish the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments and, thus, also certain concrete methods of paying (receiving) unemployment insurance payments.

5.7. In this context it should also be noted that, although the aforementioned provisions of Item 1 of Article 20 and Item 4 of Article 24 of the Law were subsequently amended by the Republic of Lithuania’s Law Amending and Supplementing Articles 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21, 23, and 24 of the Law on Unemployment Social Insurance as well as Recognising Article 19 Thereof as No Longer Valid, which was adopted by the Seimas on 18 June 2009, the legal regulation in question, insofar as it authorises the Government to establish the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, has remained unchanged.

  1. As mentioned before, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioner, requests an investigation into the compliance of Item 39 of the Regulations, insofar as, after establishing that “an unemployment insurance payment shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania”, it did not provide for any other methods of paying unemployment social insurance payments, granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by law, to their recipients, with Article 52 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.
  2. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, in assessing the compliance of the impugned legal regulation of the method of paying unemployment insurance payments with the Constitution, account should be taken of the provisions of the official constitutional doctrine disclosing the content of Article 52 of the Constitution and the content of the constitutional principle of proportionality.

7.1. The Constitutional Court, while construing the provisions of Article 52 of the Constitution that guarantee the right of citizens to social maintenance, has held, inter alia, the following:

– Article 52 of the Constitution stipulates that the state guarantees its citizens the right to receive old-age and disability pensions as well as social assistance in the event of unemployment, sickness, widowhood, loss of the breadwinner, and in other cases provided for by law; these provisions express the social character of the state and recognise that social maintenance, i.e., contribution by society to the support of those of its members who, due to the reasons provided for by law, are unable to support themselves through work or other means, or whose maintenance is insufficient, has the status of a constitutional value (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 12 March 1997);

– the legislature, when it regulates the relations of social security and social assistance by paying heed to the Constitution, has broad discretion (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 26 September 2007, its decision of 20 April 2010, its rulings of 29 June 2012, 15 February 2013, 16 May 2013, and 11 December 2013);

– the provisions of Article 52 of the Constitution that guarantee the right of citizens to social maintenance at the same time oblige the state to establish adequate measures for the implementation and protection of the said right (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 12 March 1997, 3 December 1997, 25 November 2002, and 3 December 2003);

– if, due to certain reasons, persons lose their job and cannot take care of their welfare, the duty arises for the state to establish the legal regulation under which social assistance would be ensured for such persons in the event of unemployment; the legislature may choose and consolidate in laws a certain model of the provision of the said support, inter alia, various forms thereof; however, it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation that would create preconditions for the emergence of the situation where persons who have, due to certain reasons, lost their job, would not receive adequate social assistance; in addition, the duty arises for the legislature to regulate the legal relations of social assistance in such a way that preconditions would be created for all members of society to take care of their own welfare by themselves rather than to rely solely on state social security (the Constitutional Court’s 24 ruling of December 2008);

– sub-statutory legal acts (thus, also government resolutions) may establish only the procedure for the implementation of the laws regulating the relations of social security and social assistance; a sub-statutory legal regulation of the said relations may comprise the establishment of relevant procedures, as well as such a legal regulation where, based on laws, the need to provide more details about and particularise in sub-statutory legal acts a certain legal regulation established by law is objectively caused by the necessity in the law-making process to draw upon special knowledge or special (professional) competence of a certain area; however, any sub-statutory legal regulation of the relations specified in Article 52 of the Constitution may not establish any conditions for the appearance of the right of an individual to social assistance, nor may it limit the extent of that right (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 7 February 2005, 2 September 2009, 14 December 2010, and 31 October 2012).

7.2. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that one of the elements of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is the constitutional principle of proportionality, which means that the measures provided for in legal acts must be in line with the legitimate objectives that are important to society, as well as that these measures must be necessary in order to reach the said objectives and must not restrain the rights and freedoms of the person clearly more than necessary in order to reach the said objectives (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 31 October 2012, 15 February 2013, and 1 July 2013).

7.3. Under the Constitution, inter alia, Article 52 thereof, the legislature, when regulating the relations of social assistance in the event of unemployment, which is one of the types of social assistance, must establish the legal regulation that would ensure that persons who, due to certain reasons, have lost their job, would receive adequate social assistance; the same legal regulation must, inter alia, also establish certain sufficient measures for the implementation of the right to social assistance in the event of unemployment. The legal regulation governing social assistance in the event of unemployment must, among other things, create preconditions for all members of society who have, due to certain reasons, lost their job to take care of their own welfare by themselves rather than to rely solely on the social security guaranteed by the state.

Under the Constitution, inter alia, Article 52 thereof, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, after establishing, by means of a law, the legal regulation governing social assistance in the event of unemployment, inter alia, the grounds and conditions for granting social assistance in the event of unemployment, the legislature may commission another subject (inter alia, the Government) to establish, by means of a sub-statutory legal act and based on the relevant law, the procedure for granting social assistance in the event of unemployment as well as for paying the corresponding payments granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by the relevant law in the event of unemployment. When the procedure for paying a respective payment in the event of unemployment is being established by means of a sub-statutory legal act (including a resolution of the Government), heed must be paid to the requirements stemming from the Constitution, inter alia, Article 52 thereof, as well as from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law; among other things, the said legal regulation may create no preconditions for the emergence of any such situations where the implementation of the right to receive social assistance in the event of unemployment would be disproportionately burdened.

  1. It has been mentioned that, in the constitutional justice case at issue, subsequent to the petition of the petitioner, the Constitutional Court is investigating the compliance of Item 39 of the Regulations, insofar as, after establishing that “an unemployment insurance payment shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania”, it did not provide for any other methods of paying unemployment social insurance payments, granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by law, to their recipients, with Article 52 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.
  2. It has also been mentioned that Item 39 of the Regulations prescribed: “An unemployment insurance payment shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania.”
  3. The petitioner doubts, to the specified extent, the compliance of the legal regulation consolidated in Item 39 of the Regulations with the Constitution, inter alia, because of the fact that, upon providing for the only method of paying unemployment insurance payments—the transfer of the granted payment to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, the legal regulation in question, according to the petitioner, set additional conditions for the actual receipt of the payment and, thus, it disproportionately burdened the receipt of the payment (the person was obliged to take on additional obligations, i.e., to incur additional expenses related to holding a personal account exclusively in a credit establishment within the territory of Lithuania) or made such payment altogether impossible where the recipient of the granted payment did not hold a personal account in any credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania. In addition, the petitioner believes that Item 39 of the Regulations consolidated such a legal regulation that, according to the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and Article 52 of the Constitution, may be established exclusively by means of a law. Since a person having the status of an unemployed person entitled to receive an unemployment insurance payment should not suffer any negative consequences or additional difficulties as a result of the perfunctory application of Item 39 of the Regulations, the petitioner also doubts whether Item 39 of the Regulations, in view of its content, was in line with the indicated provisions of the Constitution.
  4. In deciding regarding the compliance of Item 39 of the Regulations, to the specified extent, with Article 52 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, first of all, it is important to assess whether the Government was authorised to establish in the Regulations the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, inter alia, the method of paying this payment.

In this context, it should be noted that, as mentioned before, under the Constitution, inter alia, Article 52 thereof, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, after establishing, by means of a law, the legal regulation governing social assistance in the event of unemployment, inter alia, the grounds and conditions for granting social assistance in the event of unemployment, the legislature may commission another subject (inter alia, the Government) to establish, by means of a sub-statutory legal act and based on the relevant law, the procedure for granting social assistance in the event of unemployment as well as for paying the corresponding payments granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by the relevant law in the event of unemployment.

  1. It has been mentioned that, under Item 4 of Article 24 of the Law, the Government is authorised, inter alia, to establish the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments and, thus, also certain concrete methods of paying (receiving) unemployment insurance payments.

As mentioned before, the Regulations governed and govern, inter alia, the procedure for granting, on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law, as well as paying unemployment insurance payments.

It has also been mentioned that the legal regulation governing the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, as consolidated in Item 39 of the Regulations, established the method of paying (receiving) unemployment insurance payments.

  1. Thus, the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, inter alia, the method of paying unemployment insurance payments, was consolidated in the Regulations with a view to implementing the authorisation, as formulated by the legislature in Item 4 of Article 24 of the Law, for the Government to establish, inter alia, the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments and, thus, also the methods of paying (receiving) unemployment insurance payments granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law.

Consequently, the Government was authorised to establish, in the Regulations, the procedure for the implementation of the legal regulation, as laid down in the Law, in relation to paying unemployment insurance payments granted on the grounds and under the conditions established in that law, i.e., it was authorised to establish the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, inter alia, the method of paying unemployment insurance payments; from this aspect, the Government did not deviate from the requirements stemming from the Constitution, inter alia, Article 52 thereof, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, with respect to the legal regulation of social assistance.

  1. In assessing whether the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, as established in the impugned Item 39 of the Regulations, could be consolidated by the Government as the sole method of paying unemployment insurance payments, it should be noted that, as mentioned before:

– under the Constitution, inter alia, Article 52 thereof, the legislature, when regulating the relations of social assistance in the event of unemployment, which is one of the types of social assistance, must establish the legal regulation that would ensure that persons who, due to certain reasons, have lost their job, would receive adequate social assistance; the same legal regulation must, inter alia, also establish sufficient measures for the implementation of the right to social assistance in the event of unemployment; the legal regulation governing social assistance in the event of unemployment must, among other things, create preconditions for all the members of society who have, due to certain reasons, lost their job to take care of their own welfare by themselves rather than to rely solely on the social security guaranteed by the state;

– when a certain procedure for paying a respective payment in the event of unemployment is being established by means of a sub-statutory legal act (including a resolution of the Government), heed must be paid to the requirements stemming from the Constitution, inter alia, Article 52 thereof, as well as those stemming from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law; among other things, the said legal regulation may create no preconditions for the emergence of any such situations where the implementation of the right to receive social assistance in the event of unemployment would be disproportionately burdened.

  1. In this context, it should be noted that, while maintaining that the legal regulation, as laid down in Item 39 of the Regulations, which consolidated the sole method of paying an unemployment insurance payment to a person to whom it has been granted (calculated) on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law, i.e., the transfer of the said payment to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, was not in line with the Constitution, the petitioner, among other things, invokes the Constitutional Court’s legal position (ratio decidendi), as set forth in its ruling of 31 October 2012: in that ruling, the corresponding legal regulation governing the payment of sickness benefits was ruled in conflict with the Constitution, insofar as that legal regulation, after establishing that “sickness <...> benefits shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania”, had not provided for any other methods of paying sickness benefits, granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by the law, to their recipients.

It should be mentioned that unemployment insurance compensates persons covered by this type of insurance for the loss of their income or part of it in the event of unemployment, provided that these persons meet the conditions established by the Law, inter alia, the condition that they must be registered as the unemployed with the territorial labour exchange; the unemployed who meet the conditions established in the Law for being entitled to an unemployment insurance payment are granted and paid an unemployment insurance payment only in the cases where they meet the conditions established for receiving the said payment—inter alia, the condition that an unemployed person participates in the measures of an active labour market, i.e., with a view to creating preconditions for employing unemployed persons (or preconditions enabling them to obtain employment themselves), the law lays down the requirement that such persons should be active.

It also needs to be mentioned that, in its ruling of 31 October 2012, where the Constitutional Court was deciding regarding the compliance of the aforementioned legal regulation governing the payment of sickness benefits with the Constitution, the Constitutional Court invoked the provisions of the official constitutional doctrine disclosing certain aspects of the right to social assistance in the event of health disorders (sickness, an accident, an occupational disease, a congenital health disorder, etc.) as well as the aspects of the right to a disability pension; under these provisions, the legislature is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation that would create preconditions for the emergence of situations where persons who, due to health disorders (sickness, an accident, an occupational disease, a congenital health disorder, etc.), on either a temporary or permanent basis, have not acquired or have lost the possibilities of supporting themselves through work or from business income, or where such possibilities for the said persons have significantly diminished, would not receive an appropriate social assistance and/or a disability pension.

Thus, in its specific character, the implementation of the right to an unemployment insurance payment granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by the Law (in consideration of the subject who is implementing this right and the possibilities of that subject for taking active actions in order to implement this right) differs in substance from the implementation of the right to a sickness benefit granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by the relevant law; therefore, the investigation into the compliance of the legal regulation as consolidated in Item 39 of the Regulations and impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue may not be grounded on the Constitutional Court’s legal position (ratio decidendi) set forth in its ruling of 31 October 2012.

  1. As mentioned before, the Government was authorised to establish, in the Regulations, the procedure for the implementation of the legal regulation, laid down in the Law, in relation to paying unemployment insurance payments granted on the grounds and under the conditions established in that law, i.e., it was authorised to establish the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments, inter alia, the method of paying unemployment insurance payments.

It should be noted that, when implementing the powers in question, which were conferred on it by the legislature, the Government, having taken into account the specific character of the implementation of the right to unemployment insurance payments (in consideration of a subject implementing this right and the possibilities of that subject for taking active actions in order to implement this right), was allowed not only to establish concrete methods of paying unemployment insurance payments, but was also allowed to choose whether unemployment insurance payments could be paid by means of one or several methods.

  1. Consequently, having established, in Item 39 of the Regulations, the sole method of paying unemployment insurance payments, the application of which enabled the recipients of unemployment insurance payments to implement their right to receive unemployment insurance payments granted on the grounds and under the conditions established in the Law, the Government implemented the powers, conferred on it by the legislature, to establish the procedure for paying unemployment insurance payments.

It should be emphasised that the legal regulation at issue, taking into account the specific character of the implementation of the right to unemployment insurance payments (in consideration of a subject implementing this right and the possibilities of that subject for taking active actions in order to implement this right), ensured that persons who, due to certain reasons, lost their job, would receive an unemployment insurance payment granted on the grounds and under the conditions established in the Law, and it created no preconditions for the emergence of any situations where the implementation of the right to receive social assistance in the event of unemployment would be disproportionately burdened.

Thus, the legal regulation at issue did not deviate from the requirements stemming from the Constitution, inter alia, Article 52 thereof, and those stemming from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law with respect to the legal regulation of social assistance in the event of unemployment.

In this context, attention should also be paid to the fact that, when regulating, upon being commissioned by the legislature, the relations connected to the payment of social assistance in the event of unemployment, provided it pays heed to the Constitution, inter alia, Article 52 thereof, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, as well as takes account, inter alia, of the financial and material capabilities of the state, the Government may also establish, by means of a legal regulation, other methods of paying (receiving) unemployment insurance payments in addition to the aforementioned sole method of paying (receiving) these payments, i.e., it may equally establish other, additional, methods of paying (receiving) unemployment insurance payments.

  1. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Item 39 of the Regulations, insofar as, after establishing that “an unemployment insurance payment shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania”, it did not provide for any other methods of paying unemployment social insurance payments, granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by law, to their recipients, was not in conflict with Article 52 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 531, 54, 55, and 56 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

ruling:

To recognise that Item 39 of the Regulations on Unemployment Social Insurance Payments, as approved by the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 1656) “On the Approval of the Regulations on Unemployment Social Insurance Payments” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2004, No. 186-6930) of 24 December 2004, insofar as, after establishing that “an unemployment insurance payment shall be transferred to the indicated personal account held by the payment recipient in a credit establishment within the territory of the Republic of Lithuania”, it did not provide for any other methods of paying unemployment social insurance payments, granted on the grounds and under the conditions established by law, to their recipients, was not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and not subject to appeal.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:                               Toma Birmontienė

                                                                                                   Pranas Kuconis

                                                                                                   Gediminas Mesonis

                                                                                                   Vytas Milius

                                                                                                   Ramutė Ruškytė

                                                                                                   Egidijus Šileikis

                                                                                                   Algirdas Taminskas

                                                                                                   Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis

                                                                                                   Dainius Žalimas