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.
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
- 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.
Type of contract
As a rule, you must treat your fixed‑term workers in the same manner as your permanent staff. When vacancies for permanent posts become available, you should inform them. Fixed‑term workers also count when calculating the threshold above which you need to set up staff representative bodies at your company.
Don't forget that EU countries are obliged to introduce 1 or more of the following measures in their national laws in order to prevent misuse of successive fixed‑term contracts (instead of open-ended contracts):
- objective reasons for the renewal of fixed‑term contracts
- maximum total duration of successive fixed‑term contracts
- maximum number of renewals of fixed‑term contracts.
When organising the work of your staff, take into account their needs for flexible working patterns. One way to do this is to use part‑time contracts. Part‑time staff may not be treated less favourably than your full-time employees.
As far as possible, give consideration to requests by your staff to transfer to part‑time positions or back to full‑time posts when they would like to work again on full‑time basis.
If you would like to transfer one of your staff members from a full‑time to a part‑time position and they refuse, this does not give you a valid reason to dismiss them.
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.
Dig deeper, country by country: