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Frequently Asked Questions about Working in the EU

Unemployment Benefit in another Member State

It is possible to have your unemployment benefit paid to you in a Member State other than that where you were previously employed.  You have to fulfil certain conditions and the benefit is payable only for three months extendable to a maximum of six months.

I worked in the IT industry in Ireland and was made redundant in March. I have been unable to find further employment in the IT sector in my local area. I have a sister living in Germany. She has suggested that I go and look for work in Germany. I have heard that it may be possible to transfer my unemployment benefit to Germany but am unsure if this is true. Can you advise me whether I would be entitled to claim my unemployment from Ireland while living in Germany?

If you have been receiving Unemployment Benefit in Ireland for at least 4 weeks and wish to go to a country covered by EC Regulations to look for work e.g. Germany, you can receive payment of this benefit there for a period of three months which may be extended to six months.

To transfer your unemployment benefit from Ireland to Germany, you must fulfill the following conditions:

  1. You must have made yourself available to the employment services of the country that pays your benefits for at least four weeks after becoming unemployed. Exceptions can be made.

  2. You have to apply for a U2 form at your local social security office. This document will allow you to register with the employment services abroad.

  3. Within seven days after leaving, you have to register with the employment services of the country where you want to look for a job. You then have to comply with the obligations and the control procedures organised by the employment services there.

  4. If you are not able to find a job, you have to return before the expiry of the period specified on your U2 form. If you return later, without the explicit permission of the employment services of the country that pays your benefits, you will lose all remaining entitlements.

To obtain further information on transferring your Unemployment Benefit to Germany, I recommend that you contact International Records Section, Social Welfare Services Office, Floor 1, O'Connell Bridge House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2. Tel: (01) 8748444.


Obtaining Employment in another Member State

When you go to another Member State of the EU to seek work, you are entitled to be treated equally with nationals of that country in relation to access to work and working conditions such as pay and holidays. 

I am an Irish national currently seeking employment in Denmark. I am encountering a problem in that I cannot obtain a job without providing my national insurance number and I cannot obtain a national insurance number without being able to provide evidence of employment in Denmark. What can I do?

This is a recurring problem in the EU and one which constitutes an obstacle to the free movement of workers. In order to attempt to resolve the issue in your case, I would recommend that you contact the Danish SOLVIT representative. SOLVIT is a network established to quickly and informally resolve problems caused by misapplication of EU law by public authorities. The website address for the national SOLVIT centres, where you will find further information concerning the service and contact details for the Danish representative, is

For further general information on your rights as a worker in the EU, you may wish to consult the following website:


Facilities for persons with disabilities

Are all employers required to adopt measures to facilitate persons with disabilities?

This question was answered in a case before the Court of Justice of the EU.  In Commission v Italy C-312/11, the Court relied on Directive 2000/78/EC (Equal Treatment in Employment) to find that Member States must create an obligation for employers to adopt effective and practical measures (adapting premises, equipment, patterns of working time, the distribution of tasks), taking into account each individual situation, which will enable any person with a disability to have access to, to participate in or advance in employment and to undergo training without imposing a disproportionate burden on the employer.

Does obesity constitute a disability within the meaning of the Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC?

This question was answered by the Court of Justice in the case of FOA acting on behalf of Karsten Kaltoft v Kommunernes Landsforening acting on behalf of the Municipality of Billund, Case C-354/13. In this case a childminder was dismissed from his role. He believed that his obesity was among the reasons for his dismissal. The Court ruled that if under given circumstances, the obesity of the worker entails a limitation which results from physical, mental or psychological impairments which may hinder the full participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers and the limitation is a long term one, this obesity can fall within the concept of a disability within the meaning of the Directive.


Recognition of Qualifications

One problem which frequently arises when seeking work in another Member State is recognition of your qualifications.  If you work in a regulated profession, i.e. one where specific qualifications and experience are required, you may have to seek formal recognition of your qualifications before being entitled to work in that profession.  For some professions, e.g. doctors, dentists, midwives, there is provision for automatic recognition under Directive 2005/36/EC.  For other professions where there is no automatic recognition, e.g. teaching. In these professions, you must submit your qualifications and experience to the competent authority for them to assess whether your qualifications are equivalent to those required in the State where you are seeking work.

I am an Irish national and have recently qualified as a teacher in Scotland. I assumed that I would be able to immediately commence teaching in Ireland but have been advised that this is not the case. Instead, I have to obtain formal recognition of my qualifications here in Ireland. What evidence of my qualifications is the Department of Education entitled to ask me to produce?

Recognition of qualifications in the EU is provided for under Directive 2005/36.  Under this Directive, the competent authority of the Member State in which you wish to exercise a professional activity may require:

  • proof that you have professional experience of at least two years for the profession concerned: this proof may be requested if neither the profession nor the training are regulated in your Member State of origin but the profession is regulated in the host Member State (see questions 9 and 12), all the documents should be taken into consideration. Thus, you do not have to submit a certificate from a competent authority. For example, pay slips or attestations from employers must be accepted by the host Member State, though it remains essential that the document clearly identifies your professional activity;

  • information on your training but only to the extent necessary to determine the possible existence of substantial differences with the national training required; as a general rule, you only need to provide the following information: information on the total duration of your studies, subjects studied and to what extent, ratio of theory to practice.

Further information on recognition of qualifications in the EU may be obtained from the following website:


Cross-border workers

I am employed in Monaghan but have recently moved with my family to Northern Ireland where we now reside. Can you give me a brief overview of my social security rights as a cross border worker?

You are a cross-border worker if you work in a different EU country from the one where you reside and you return to your country of residence daily, or at least once a week. As a cross-border worker, you are insured in the country where you work. This country will be responsible for your social security benefits.

Special rules apply to healthcare and unemployment. As regards healthcare, you have a right of option: you may obtain these benefits either where you reside or where you work.  As regards unemployment benefits, if you are wholly unemployed, you are only entitled to benefits in the country where you reside. This entitlement to unemployment benefits only in the country where you reside was confirmed by the Court of Justice in a recent case Jeltes and Others Case C-443/11 handed down in April 2013.

Special Rules for Airline Staff

I work as a pilot with an airline based in Ireland.  I live in the UK.  I start and finish my shifts in the UK.  Where should I make my social security contributions and where will I receive my benefits as I am concerned that I may be included in proposed redundancies by the airline?

Under rules introduced on 28th June 2012 aircrew are due to pay social security contributions and are eligible to receive benefits in the country where they start and end their shifts, in other words their "home base", instead of the country where their airline is based.

These rules are beneficial for aircrew as previously there were no specific EU rules for determining which country's social security legislation applied to them, which meant that often they had to deal with the social security system of a country in which they were not in fact based. Under these rules, the airline is obliged to pay social security contributions in the "home base" country. Existing aircrew must make a request to be covered by the new rules - otherwise, the previous rules will continue to apply to existing work arrangements for a maximum of 10 years.

A "home base" is defined as the place where the employee normally starts or ends his or her periods of duty and where, under normal conditions, the operator is not responsible for the accommodation of the aircrew member. For example, a pilot working for an airline with a registered office in Ireland, but who is residing in the UK and whose home base is in the UK, will, according to the new rules, be subject to British social security legislation and no longer to Irish legislation. This means that the pilot's contributions will be paid in the UK.


Posted workers

The 1996 Posted Workers Directive attempts to ensure fair competition and guarantee the protection of posted workers.  The Directive sets out a core set of employment conditions including application of the minimum wage in the host State, holidays, maximum working hours and minimum rest periods as well as health and safety at work.  Often these core employment conditions are incorrectly applied or not enforced in the host State.  The Commission has recently proposed a new Directive on the enforcement of provisions applicable to the posting of workers.  This proposed Directive aims to improve the way the 1996 Directive is applied in practice and improve information for posted workers, avoid exploitation of posted workers and improve the rights of posted workers. 

I have been requested by my Irish employer to take up a temporary position in Spain for a period of ten months. My employer has advised that I will remain insured under the legislation of Ireland for social security purposes for the duration of the posting. Is this correct or will I be at a disadvantage as regards my social security entitlements as a result of the posting?

If you are sent by your employer to work in another country, you will remain insured under the legislation of your country of origin if you fulfil the conditions which apply to posted workers.

This means that you can work there up to a maximum of 24 months on behalf of your employer who is based in the sending country. Before leaving, you should make sure you get an ‘A1’ document from your local social security office.  The A1  certifies that you are covered by the legislation of the country from which you are posted. Your employer declares your situation to the competent social security institution.

This solution aims at avoiding frequent changes in your social security situation in the case of short periods of work abroad.


Annual leave following maternity leave

I am pregnant and due to take my maternity leave from mid February until late August. This means that my maternity leave overlaps with the compulsory annual holiday period of two weeks at the beginning of August in my work place. I am happy to return to work in late August but am aware that I will require time off in late October and would like to postpone my holidays until then. I have mentioned this to my Human Resource Manager but he has stated that this is not possible i.e. that it is my loss that my maternity overlaps with the annual holidays of the company and that I cannot take annual leave at any other time.

Can you advise whether I have any rights in this matter?

Yes, you are entitled to take your annual leave during a period other than your maternity leave even if the latter coincides with the general period of annual leave fixed in your workplace. This right has been confirmed in a case before the European Court of Justice Gomez v Contintal Industrias del Caucho SA C-342/01.

The right to maternity leave and the right to annual leave fulfill different roles in the workplace as provided for by EU law. The aim of annual leave is to ensure that workers take a proper break and is provided for under the Working Time Directive. Maternity leave, by contrast, is intended to protect a woman's physical condition throughout the relevant period and to protect the special relationship between a woman and her child following childbirth.

The right to take maternity leave may not result in unfavourable treatment to women regarding their working conditions. Consequently, you should be able to take annual leave during a period other than your maternity leave even if your maternity leave coincides with the annual leave period fixed in your workplace.


Working Time - Journeys to and from home and the first and last customer of the day

Following the decision of the Court of Justice of the EU in the case of Federación de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones obreras (CC.OO.) v Tyco Integrated Security SL, C-266/14, journeys made by workers without a fixed or habitual place of work between their homes and the first and last customer of the day constitute working time. 

I am employed as an energy assessor.  I work from home and do not have an office base.  My job consists of carrying out energy assessments on private homes.  Does my working day start when I arrive at one of these homes and finish when I leave another home which has been assessed.

Based on the Tyco Integrated Security case above, your working day commences the moment you leave your home and finishes when you arrive home at the end of the day having driven directly home from your last assessment job.  You should notify your employer of this fact citing the above case which was recently decided upon by the Court of Justice of the EU and is law throughout all twenty eight Member States of the EU.


Entitlement to Social Assistance while looking for Work in Ireland

I am an Italian national and am currently residing in Ireland while looking for work.  I applied for social assistance but was refused by the Irish authorities.  Surely this refusal contravenes my right to equal treatment?

The refusal to grant social assistance to you while you are seeking work in Ireland is not contrary to EU law.  This was confirmed by the Court of Justice of the EU in the case of Jobcenter Berlin Neukölln v Nazifa, Sonita, Valentina and Valentino Alimanovic, Case C-67/14.  In that case, the Court held that that denying Union citizens whose right of residence in the territory of a host Member State arises solely out of the search for employment entitlement to certain ‘special non-contributory cash benefits’, which also constitute ‘social assistance’ does not contravene the EU principle of equal treatment.


Last update: 08/10/2015  |Top