Free movement of employees

Free movement of employees provides the citizens of the EU Member States with the opportunity to choose a job in any EU Member State. The citizens of one EU Member State do not need a work permit to work in another EU Member State. In all EU Member States, the citizens of other EU Member States are free to choose between all jobs, similarly to their own citizens, and their families have also the right to move to the country where the job is located.

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This also applies to the provision of all social and tax advantages. Indirect ("covert") discrimination is also prohibited; in other words, measures which typically afford less favourable treatment to foreign nationals than national workers, without referring directly to nationality, are not permitted either. 

EU citizens are also permitted to enter another Member State and reside there for the purpose of seeking employment. However, this right only exists for a period of up to six months, and beyond that only as long as those concerned can provide evidence that they are continuing to seek employment and that they have a genuine chance of being hired (Section 2 (2) no. 1a of the Freedom of Movement Act/EU).

In certain circumstances, freedom of movement for workers continues to apply for six months or longer after the end of an employment relationship (for example in the case of temporary incapacity for work following an accident, or involuntary unemployment); this entitles the EU citizen and his or her family members to remain in the country during this period.

EU Directive 2014/54/EU, which was adopted in 2014, introduced measures to significantly strengthen in practice the rights conferred in the context of freedom of movement for workers. In particular, the Directive requires the Member States to establish national advisory bodies for migrant workers and their family members. These bodies offer them independent advice about access to employment, employment and working conditions, access to social and tax advantages, and access to vocational training and housing, as well as conducting surveys and independent analysis regarding the application of freedom of movement for workers. It also publishes information in various official EU languages, free of charge, about rights conferred in the context of freedom of movement for workers, although this is still under development at present.

Transitional arrangements relating to freedom of movement for workers (and posting) for new Member States. Since May 2011, unrestricted freedom of movement for workers has applied to the EU Member States of Estonia, which joined the EU in 2004.