Can I legally work within any European Country?

What countries can I legally work in outside my home state?

In 1973 the United Kingdom became a member of the European Union (EU). 

Under section 39(1) of the EC treaty the ‘freedom of movement for workers shall be secured within the community’. This allows members of one EU country to freely move and work within another EU country

What countries are members of the European Union?

Alongside the UK the following countries are also members of the European Union,

  • Austria

  • Bulgaria

  • Cyprus

  • Belgium

  • Czech Republic

  • Denmark

  • Estonia

  • Finland

  • France

  • Germany

  • Greece

  • Hungary

  • Ireland

  • Italy

  • Latvia

  • Lithuania

  • Luxemburg

  • Malta

  • Netherlands

  • Poland

  • Portugal

  • Romania

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • Spain

  • Sweden

What is meant by free movement of persons/ Workers?

The free movement of persons or workers within the European Union entails the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality between workers of different European countries. This includes any discrimination linked with employment, remuneration (such as wages/salary) and any other conditions linked with the employment of people from different countries.

What does the term ‘freedom’ actually allow a person to do?

The freedom of people within the EU includes the rights for people to take up and pursue activities such as self-employed work and to set up and establish any undertakings such as a company.

What are the rights of Workers within the EU?

Workers travelling to other EU countries to seek employment have the right to:

  • Accept any offers of employment actually made to them

  • To move freely within the territory of any Member state for this purpose

  • To stay in a member state for the purpose of employment in accordance with any laws or regulations controlling the employment of nationals

  • To remain in the territory of a member state after having been employed by the state government

  • In order for a person to benefit from these provisions they must be classified as a ‘worker’.

When is a person classified as a ‘worker’ in order to benefit from these provisions?

There is no legal definition of a worker in any of the European treaties. The definition however, has been established by Judges through case law.

In the case of 75/63 Hoekstra, The judge said that a worker for the benefit of these provisions is defined as:

‘Any employed person, irrespective of whether he is wage earned or salaried, blue collar or white collar, an executive or unskilled labourer’

Is the law the same or is it different in relation to part time workers?

The law in relation to part time workers moving freely through different EU countries is largely decided by the value of work a person needs to do before they can be a classified worker.

Whether a full time worker or a part time worker, a person is entitled to the status ‘worker’ providing that the work they do is genuine and effective and not so insignificant that they can be disregarded all together.

The term worker is wider that just referring to those in employment within one of the member states. In certain circumstances it also refers to those seeking work and those having lost one job involuntarily but is still capable of another job.

The law surrounding a person seeking employment in another EU country

Any EU national may remain in another EU member state for a period of up to three months without having to conform to the status of ‘worker’. After this period the member state the person is seeking employment in has the discretion to determine the job seekers future within that country. Unless there is a realistic chance of the job seeker actually securing employment the member state can order them to leave.

The courts have stated that it is reasonable for a member state to deport a EU national back to their home country if they have not secured employment within six months of being in the host country.

What rights do the family and dependants of a worker have within the country of employment?

Certain rights gained by the worker have been extended to cover members of his family. It is inevitable that if a person moves to another country to work he is going to want his family to also make the move with him.

Family members have the right to live with the worker in the host country and also have the right to equal treatment in relation to education and social advantages.

Children of either the worker or their spouse, or both will have the special status. The term Children will include all the children to either party. They will also remain part of the workers family if a divorce has taken place.

The right to Equality

The Regulations 1612/68 provides for equality of access to employment for all community nationals. This will include equality of treatment during employment, the right for a worker to be joined by his family and the right for his children to be educated on the same terms as any other child of the member state in question.

What happens on retirement?

EU law allows a person to remain with his family, in the host member state, after retirement providing he has been employed there.

The worker must have been employed in the host member state for at least a year immediately prior to being eligible for retirement.

If the worker becomes incapable of working after being employed by the state for at least 2 years he is allowed to remain in that EU country for as long as he wishes.

Working in another European Country

What countries a person can freely work in, what constitutes a worker? , What are the rights of Workers? The law and equality, How does the law differ in circumstances involving a person seeking employment? The law and part time workers in another EU state, How does working in another country affect the family? What are the rights of a workers family? What happens on retirement?