As an EU citizen, you have the right to be treated in the same way as citizens of this host country in all Member States. Find out about the rights that you and your family members have under the freedom of movement for workers.
1. What is freedom of movement for workers?
The freedom of movement for workers is one of the fundamental freedoms of the EU.
It enables citizens from the 27 EU countries as well as from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland to take up work without a work permit in one of these countries.
The freedom of movement for workers also applies to family members of citizens of the countries mentioned, even if the family members come from third countries.
In the context of the freedom of movement for workers, you are entitled:
- to look for a job in another country,
- to work there without a work permit being required,
- to live there for this purpose,
- to stay there even after termination of the employment relationship,
- to be treated in the same way as citizens of the host country in terms of access to employment, training and further education, trade unions, housing and all other social and tax advantages and working conditions.
2. Equal treatment
EU citizens working in another EU country (host country) and their family members have the right to be treated like nationals of that host country.
Specifically, this means for job seekers:
They have the same support from the Public Employment Service as citizens of the host country. However, restrictions apply to the cost-of-living benefits.
Please note: If you apply for a job, the employer must not discriminate you with regard to other applicants because you are resident in another Member State.
Please note: In principle, employers can require applicants from other Member States to have German language skills. However, the language requirements must be appropriate and necessary for the job concerned. In particular, German language skills must not serve as a pretext to discriminate against EU citizens in the application process or to exclude them from the application process. In certain cases and for certain positions it can be justified to require very good language skills. However, it is inadmissible to require applicants to be a “native speaker”.
As an employee, from your 1st working day, like German citizens you are entitled to:
- Access to training, part-time vocational schools and further training,
- Access to housing, including social housing, or assistance with the purchase of residential property,
- Social and tax benefits including supplementary cost-of-living benefits if your income is too low.
At work, you must also be treated in the same way as your colleagues who are German citizens. This applies, in particular for:
- Remuneration, termination, as well as other employment and working conditions,
- Health and safety at work,
- The right to be a member of a Trade union, to elect its board of directors or to be elected to an administrative post in a trade union.
If you go to live or work in another EU country, you should not suffer any disadvantages. This also applies to your social security. Therefore, there are European rules that protect your social security rights. The rules apply in the 27 countries of the EU as well as in Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The rules are based on 4 principles:
- They are always subject to the social security system of a single country. This means that you only pay social security contributions in that country.
- You have the same rights and obligations as citizens of this country.
- The periods of insurance, employment and residence that you have completed in other countries are taken into account for your social security claims.
- If you are entitled to cash benefits in a country, you can get them even if you do not live in that country.
You can enforce these rights in court.