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Representation in Ireland

FAQs: Working in the EU

As an EU citizen, you have the right to work in any other EU Member State without the need to obtain a work permit.  You are entitled to be treated on the same basis as nationals of that country with regard to access to employment, working conditions and remuneration.

Unemployment Benefit in another Member State

It is possible to have 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, possibly 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 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 another EU/EEA country 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 fulfil the following conditions:

  1. You must have made yourself available to the employment services of the country that pays your benefits (Ireland) for at least four weeks after becoming unemployed. Exceptions can be made.
  2. You have to apply for a Form U2 at your local social security INTREO office. This document will allow you to register with the employment services abroad.
  3. Within seven days after leaving Ireland, you have to register with the employment services of the country where you want to look for a job (Germany). 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 to Ireland 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 (Ireland), you will lose all remaining entitlements.

To obtain further information on transferring your Unemployment Benefit to Germany, you may wish to contact International Records Section, McCarter's Road, Ardaravan, Buncrana, County Donegal, Ireland.  Tel: (01) 471 5898 or 0818 690 690

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, you are recommended to 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.

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, participate or advance in employment and undergo training without imposing a disproportionate burden on the employer.

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, 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 Portugal. 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/EC as amended.  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. It is not essential that you submit a certificate from a competent authority. For example, pay slips or attestations from employers must be accepted by the host Member State, though the documents must clearly identify 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 and ratio of theory to practice.

Further information on recognition of qualifications in the EU may be obtained from this website.

Posted workers

The 1996 Posted Workers Directive, as revised in 2018, 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.

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 Spain, you will remain insured under Irish legislation if you fulfil the conditions which apply to posted workers.

This means that you can work in Spain up to a maximum of 24 months on behalf of your employer who is based in Ireland. Before leaving, you should make sure you get a Form A1 from your local INTREO office.  The Form A1 certifies that you are covered by Irish legislation. 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.  You should not therefore be at a disadvantage as regards your social security entitlements.

Remote Working

I am a Portuguese citizen employed in Ireland.  Since the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been working remotely in Portugal for three weeks in every four.  My employer has recently directed that this practice cannot continue as it impacts on his social security obligations towards me.  Is this correct?

Generally, a worker is affiliated to the social security scheme of the Member State where they work (Regulation (EC) 883/2004).  During the pandemic, Member States agreed that a total change of location of work which would normally trigger a change of affiliation, would not affect the applicable legislation.  From 1st January 2023, it was agreed that the above concession would no longer apply and the rules contained in Regulation (EC) 883/2004 would operate as normal.  For you, the substantial part of your employment activities appear to be in Portugal.  This would mean that Portugal would become the competent State for social security purposes rather than Ireland as was the case when you were working exclusively there.  This has implications for your employer. If your employer permits you to spend 25% or more of your time working from Portugal, social security contributions will be due in your home Member State (Portugal), and not in the Member State where the employer is based (Ireland). If these are not paid when they are due, the employer may be liable to fines, interest and penalty surcharges. Some employers are aware of this and do not permit remote working.

Annual leave

EU law provides that workers are entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid annual leave per annum.  However, most EU countries provide for more than 20 days of paid annual leave.  Where a worker has been unable to exercise his right to annual leave as a result of the actions or requirements of the employer, he should be able to carry over and accumulate his untaken paid annual leave.  This was confirmed by the Court of Justice of the EU in the case of Conley King v the Sash Window Workshop Ltd and Richard Dollar, C-2014/16.

Annual leave following termination of the employment relationship

In the event that a worker ceases working for an employer, he is entitled to an allowance if he could not use up all or part of his right to annual paid leave.  This was confirmed by the Court of Justice of the EU in the case of Manschek v Magistratsdirektion der Stadt Wien – Personalstelle Wiener Stadtwerke, Case C-341/15.

Annual leave following maternity leave

The right to maternity leave and the right to annual leave fulfil 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.

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 workplace. 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.

When I return to work after my maternity leave, do I have any right to flexible working arrangements?

Since August 2022, Directive 2019/1158 gives all working parents of children up to at least 8 years and all carers a right to request flexible working arrangements.  These comprise reduced working hours, flexible working hours and flexibility in place of work.

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.

Entitlement to Social Assistance while looking for work in Ireland

Under EU law, there is no automatic entitlement to social assistance in another EU Member State.  You are entitled to take up residence in another EU State if you are either employed or self-employed or have sufficient resources to support yourself there (Article 7, Directive 2004/38/EC). 

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’ does not contravene the EU principle of equal treatment.

Further Legal Advice on Your Rights

Where can I obtain legal advice on my rights in the EU?

If you require legal advice on your rights in the EU, you may wish to contact the Your Europe Advice service. This is an EU advice service for the public. It consists of a team of 60 independent lawyers who cover all EU official languages and are familiar both with EU law and national laws in all EU countries. They will provide you with free and personalised advice in the language of your choice, within a week.  The response received, either by email or telephone as selected by you, will clarify the European law that applies in your case and explain how you can exercise your EU rights.