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Worker Rights in the EU

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Whether you are working at home or abroad it is important to know you rights in the workplace. If you are thinking of traveling abroad to work this blog will explain the labour law advantages of living in one country compared to another.


In this blog we will reveal the law surrounding the rights of workers, the differences between some countries and the overall EU labour law. The work rights apply to all EU nationals and protect them whatever EU country they choose to live in. This enables you to have the same right in each European country including your home country, however there are exceptions in some cases.  Let’s take a look at some of the worker-related rights that affect you as an EU citizen and some exceptions that are included.


  • EU nationals have the right to work for an employer or as a self-employed person in any EU country without needing a work permit.

*Exception — Bulgarian and Romanian nationals still face temporary restrictions on working in the EU.

  • If you work in another EU country, you and your family are automatically entitled to live there.
  • As a migrant worker, you and your family are entitled to be treated as nationals of your new country. This means you are entitled to the same benefits as native workers from the day you start working there.

You are therefore entitled to receive benefits:

  • granted to nationals of the country because they are working there (employed or self-employed)
  • granted to workers and their families for living in the country
  • not directly connected to employment
  • If you lose your job while living in the other country, you are still entitled to live there and have the same benefits as nationals if you are:
    • temporarily unable to work because of an illness or accident
    • registered with the relevant employment office as involuntarily unemployed after having:


  •  been employed for less than a year (in this case, you retain the right to equal treatment with nationals  for at least 6 months)
  • Starting vocational training (if you are not involuntarily unemployed, the training must be related to previous employment).


Throughout the different European countries there are several differences concerning maternity leave, the number of paid holidays and other matters like this. We now will compare the differences between the countries.


Number of holidays per year

  • EU working law : Annual leave of at least four weeks (i.e. 20 days on a full-time basis) and no payment in lieu except where employment is terminated
  • The Netherlands : 20 days for a 5 day working week (its common practice for a full time employee to be entitled to 25 days)
  • Germany : 20 working days’ vacation per calendar year for employees who work a normal five-day week
  • Spain : Holidays may be agreed individually or collectively and may not be less than 30 calendar days
  • Belgium : Working 5 days a week, an employee will get at least 20 days holiday
  • Bulgaria : The amount of the basic paid annual leave is not less than 20 working days.
  • Denmark : All employees are entitled to 25 holidays annually
  • Finland : Every employee is entitled to a paid vacation of usually two and a half weekdays for each month of service.


As you can see different countries vary but the EU law states that in every country an employee is entitled to at least 20 days holidays per year.


Maternity Leave

  • Germany : Female employees are entitled to full paid maternity leave
  • UK : Pregnant employees are allowed , paid time off for antenatal care, maternity leave, maternity pay, protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal
  • Denmark : A pregnant employee is entitled to absence from work from 4 weeks before the expected birth
  • Finland : Maternity leave normally begins 30 weekdays before the expected date of delivery and lasts 105 weekdays


Number of work hours a week

  • France : The standard number of hours worked per month is 151.67 hours, based on a standard working week of 35 hours
  • Spain : Normal working hours in Spain must average 40 hours per week
  • Belgium : The legal working week is 38 hours
  • Bulgaria : The working week consists of five days, with normal duration of 40 hours
  • Denmark : The average working week in Denmark should not exceed 48 hours
  • Finland : The maximum normal working time is eight hours a day and 40 hours a week.


We hope these EU labour law facts have helped you and possibly your decision in which country to move for work. At Job Coconut we care about the rights of workers.

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