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Updated 05/07/2017

Equal treatment

Workers from other EU countries: equal treatment and no work permit

As an employer, you have a right to hire staff from any EU country. You must give jobseekers from other EU countries the same treatment as applicants from your own country. You cannot impose discriminatory criteria - for example on the basis of nationality - during the recruitment phase. You also have to provide other EU nationals with the same working conditions (salary, paid annual leave, etc.) as you offer your own nationals. Jobseekers from an EU country do not need a work permit to work in another EU country.

Citizens from Croatia might still need a work permit in some EU countries and some EU citizens need a work permit to become an employee in Croatia.

You can ask job applicants from other EU countries to demonstrate the language skills needed for the job, but the level of language knowledge required must be reasonable for the post.

It is also prohibited by law to discriminate because of:

  • gender (e.g. parental leave, promotion, pay)
  • racial or ethnic origin
  • religion or belief
  • disability
  • age
  • sexual orientation.

You can get help on recruiting across the EU from EURES - European jobs portal.

If your business is located in a border region, EURES can also advise how to deal administratively with any of your staff that commute from a neighbouring country.

Recognition of qualifications

When you recruit staff for a regulated profession in your country and you receive applications from jobseekers who obtained their qualifications in another EU country, they need to get their experience and/or professional qualifications recognised by a competent authority in your country. Note that there are specific EU rules in certain sectors (lawyers, air traffic controllers, pilots, etc.) about the recognition of professional qualifications gained in a different EU country.

Rules for the recognition of qualifications also apply to:

citizens with dual nationality, where one is an EU nationality
people from non‑EU countries married to an EU citizen.

If you are recruiting for a profession involving different activities, and a job applicant from a different EU country has qualified in his country for only one of the activities involved - and that activity is recognised as a stand‑alone profession in his EU country - the job applicant can only apply for a partial recognition of his qualifications in your country - for those job‑related activities for which the jobseeker is qualified.

Parental leave

Employees (male and female) are entitled to parental leave on the birth or adoption of a child - regardless of their type of contract (part-time, full-time, etc.).

You cannot dismiss staff because they requested parental leave, or treat them less favourably than other staff.

Both parents are entitled to at least 4 months leave each. As a general rule, employees cannot transfer their leave entitlement to the other parent. However, some countries may allow them to transfer part of their entitlement, but no more than 3 months.

Under EU rules, staff can take parental leave at any time until the child is 8 years old. However, this age limit may be lower in some countries, under national law.

After taking parental leave, an employee is entitled to return to the same job. If that's not possible, you must offer them a similar job in line with their employment contract.

If returning employees request temporary changes to their working hours/patterns, you are obliged to give this request due consideration and make a sound business case for any refusal.

See also:

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