Workers' Rights

A Citizen of 28 member states has citizenship rights and also holds rights as a worker as well, which ensures an equal treatment, prohibits any discrimination, on the basis of nationality, wages or any other employment conditions which are disadvantageous to a union worker. The Union worker has the same working rights as that of national of the country.


  • Steve is a British national working in France. He holds the same working rights as a French national worker
  • Steve also holds Union Citizenship rights along with Worker’s right

Part Time

A person working part time but carrying out a genuine economic activity is entitled to free movement and other working rights granted to a full-time worker.

Unpaid Worker/Charitable work/ Rehabilitation work

Even where there are no formal wages paid, an individual may still be classified as a worker provided the work involved is an effective genuine economic activity or work.

Loss of Job

Where an EU worker, working in another member state loses his job or is no longer in the job or is self-employed he may still retain the rights of a worker or self-employed person

  • Provided the individual is temporarily unemployed due to illness or accident
  • Involuntarily unemployed after working for over a year
  • Expiry of a fixed term contract
  • Registered as a job seeker
  • Undertakes vocational training related to their previous employment
  • Can take vocational training which is not related to previous employment but only if the worker is involuntarily unemployed (did not leave the job by choice)

Job Seekers

EU nationals are entitled to enter or remain in another member state to find work but they cannot stay for indefinitely searching a job. The limit of stay is a maximum of 3 months unless he/she can prove that

  • He/she is making genuine efforts to find work and has a real chance of getting a job or gaining employment
  • The job seeker must have sufficient resources including comprehensive Sickness/Medical Insurance to live on so as not to become a burden on the host state
  • The job seeker and his/her family is not allowed to obtain any social security benefits

EU Worker’s Rights

  • Right to freedom of movement for the worker and his/her family for more than 3 months
  • Right to freedom of movement for self-employed worker
  • Freedom to establish or manage a business or practice a profession on a permanent basis
  • Rights of permanent residence for worker and family members after 5 years
  • Freedom from Discrimination direct or indirect
  • Same social and tax advantage as a national worker
  • Right of equal treatment
  • Mutual recognition of qualification
  • However, access to jobs in the public service is excluded and a member state may restrict or deny access to employment in the public service on the grounds of nationality

Important Procedural Rights

  • Right to be notified of a decision made by a public body
  • Right to know the grounds/reasons on which the decision is based
  • Right to appeal
  • Right to remain in the host member state while the appeal is pending
  • Right to apply to lift the exclusion orders made on the basis of public policy, after three years where there has been a material change in circumstances

Surinder Singh Rule

Where a Union citizen moves to another member state, working for at least three months and is directly joined by his family or dependent(s) (non-EU national, from outside of the 28 member states) in that member state, on returning to the member state of which he is a national in order to pursue an activity there as an employed or self-employed person, he/she can bring his/dependent(s) and family member(s) with him/her without obtaining any entry clearance for the family members.


Frank a British national moved to work as an employee or self-employed person in Spain. He has been joined by his Nigerian family members directly in Spain. Upon return to the UK, Frank can bring in his family members along with him to the UK although they have not received entry clearance from the UK Home Office.


These rights are subject to limitation and conditions on the grounds of public policy, public security and public health. A member state can deny the “Union Citizenship” rights on these grounds. Member states have a right to expel or deport a worker and a Union Citizen where his personal conduct represents a “present” threat to the requirements of public policy or public security. Any criminal behaviour will also affect the rights of the worker.

However, previous criminal convictions will not in themselves provides reasons for exclusion of rights under public security and public policy.


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legalally does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.

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