Social rights

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Get paid holiday, maternity leave, and other benefits when working in the EU

Rest and relaxation

We all need a little time off now and then. Whether I want to spend my holiday hiking through the Black Forest, soaking up the sun in Lisbon, or simply curling up with a good book at home, being an employee in the EU entitles me to a minimum of 4 weeks of paid leave. All I need to do is choose how to use it! 


Life can have a bad habit of surprising us. Broken arm? Sudden illness? Out of a job? Whatever the misfortune, being an EU citizen entitles me to social security protection such as sick pay or unemployment benefits. The EU has put safety nets in place to help me through difficult periods, even if I live in another EU country.


I spend a lot of time at work, so the EU requires my employer to respect my rights in return. They must pay me fairly, provide safe, decent working conditions, and make me work no more than 48 hours in a 7-day period. It’s my right to work in a pleasant environment, and in a way that doesn’t cause me to burn out.


Being a parent is a full-time job, but I care about my career too. I want to find the right balance between my work and my private life. Under EU law, women and men are entitled to take 4 months of parental leave, and all pregnant women are entitled to at least 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. And that’s not all: the European Commission has tabled a proposal to further improve the work/life balance so that Europe continues to be a happy, healthy place to work.


Think it’s unfair if a colleague sprints up the career ladder purely as a result of their gender? So does the EU. Equal opportunities for women and men are something that the EU expects of all businesses. Both women and men also have the right to equal pay for equal work.


From computers to building sites, we encounter many risks in our working lives that could potentially pose a threat on a daily basis. To keep us safe at work, the EU has put in place safety requirements. These may be something as simple as wearing a hardhat or ensuring that electrical equipment is tested; or they might involve training courses and knowledge-sharing. Either way, this means I can do my job without my safety being put in jeopardy.

How it works

Engineer, retail assistant, professor, nurse or plumber: however I make my living, if I work in the EU then I’m entitled to be treated fairly. My rights – such as having four weeks of holiday or receiving social security benefits if I lose my job as an employee – are all set out in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Pillar of Social Rights. The protection that the EU provides helps me to manage whatever surprises come along in my working life.

    Did you know?

    245.8 million


    The number of people in work or looking for work aged between 15 and 74 in the EU.



    The number of pieces of EU legislation that protect workers’ rights.



    The average amount of GDP spent on social protection, like parental leave or sick pay, in the EU in 2016.



    The maximum number of hours a worker in the EU can work on average in any 7-day period.

    4 weeks


    The minimum period of paid leave guaranteed to each worker per year.

    Director's Video

    /euandme/file/shape-euandme-short-film-directed-jaco-van-dormael_enThe Shape: an #EUandME short film directed by Jaco Van Dormael

    The Shape, directed by Jaco Van Dormael

    A storm is on the horizon. When a jet-black cloud engulfs a small village, the residents discover that it could put an end to more than just blue skies.


    /euandme/file/shape-euandme-short-film-directed-jaco-van-dormael_enThe Shape: an #EUandME short film directed by Jaco Van Dormael

    /euandme/file/shape-official-euandme-trailer_enThe Shape: the official #EUandMe trailer

    /euandme/file/behind-scenes-shape-euandme-short-film_enBehind the scenes of The Shape: an #EUandME short film

    Digital stories

    The story of Cedric

    #EUandME Thanks to an EU initiative, Cedric was able to travel abroad to volunteer and teach children how to play football and achieve self-fulfilment.

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