EU unemployment allowance and leave

After you finish working for an EU institution and don’t start another job right away, you are usually entitled to an EU unemployment leave and a rather generous allowance. 

You will qualify for this benefit if you:

  • Worked for the EU for more than 6 months
  • Did not resigned yourself before the end of the contract period
  • Were not dismissed for disciplinary reasons

In short, you get the EU unemployment leave and allowance if the institution does not prolong your contract for some reason.

EU unemployment leave length


The duration of the unemployment leave after leaving EU institutions depends on the time worked. In short, you gain four months of unemployment leave for every 12 months of work. Work three years, get a year of benefits, work six years, get two years. 

However, the maximum duration of the EU unemployment leave and benefits payout may not exceed three years (36 months). Hence, you are affected by this limitation only if you have worked for the EU for more than nine years.

If there is an interruption in your unemployment leave, e.g., short term employment or you start a new job but get fired soon after, the allowance payment is at first suspended, but then can be resumed if you are still within the period of entitlement. 

Example: You worked for the European Commission for six years as a contract agent. Your contract is not prolonged and you become unemployed. This entitles you to two years of paid unemployment leave from the European Union. Further, you return to your home country as an unemployed person, but then find a local job six months into your leave. However, after two months you realize that it’s not a good fit and you quit. In this case, your leave and allowance will restart. Bear in mind, that the unemployment leave period does not get extented by the period you worked!

Also, check the detailed rules. While the unemployment allowance benefit will resume, there might be a gap of two months before you get your EU payments restarted again. 

Amount and other benefits

The allowance is paid for a maximum of three years and decreases every twelve months. This is how the EU unemployment allowance is calculated:

  • (a) 60 % of the basic salary for the first 12 months
  • (b) 45 % of the basic salary for the 13th to the 24th month
  • (c) 30 % of the basic salary for the 25th to the 36th month

Of course, this wouldn’t be the EU if the rules weren’t more complicated. Read on!

During the first six months of your unemployment period there is no upper limit to your unemployment benefit, i.e., you get all 60% of your previous salary. However, from month seven the unemployment allowance is limited at 2894,36 EUR. Fortunately, the unemployment allowance may never be lower than 1447,18 EUR. These thresholds are periodically adjusted so check the most recent figures with your institution’s HR before you leave.

The percentages above are calculated from the so-called ‘Brussels salary’, i.e., 100% of your nominal salary without the correction coefficient being applied. This means that if you work in a country with a correction coefficient lower than 100%, you’ll receive an unemployment benefit for an amount quite close to your previous salary.


The EU really takes care of its former employees. Did you know that you get to keep the EU health insurance for both you and the family for the whole unemployment period?! And, just as while working, it’s active worldwide. 

If you decide to live or travel in another country and incur medical costs, these will be reimbursed at the same rate as while you were employed – 80-85%. Just make sure you sign up for the external JSIS account. 

Other conditions

After you leave an EU institution to become unemployed, you are expected to register with the national unemployment service in any EU country. Usually people choose their own country, but they don’t have to. 

One is free to choose a country where obligations for the unemployed are more lax, for example, fewer visits to the unemployment agency, less participation in “active employment measures”, fewer requirements to show that you are looking for work.


You can download the appropriate European Commission form to claim the EU unemployment benefit here.

VERY IMPORTANT: You have to send it to the relevant PMO email address ( in EIGHT days after your contract with the EU ends. Otherwise you will loose the right to claim this benefit.

What to do while unemployed?

Being on unemployment leave from the European Commission, EU agencies, the European Parliament or the Council is an opportunity you shouldn’t waste, especially if you are entitled to a longer leave period. 

Many people just take a few months off before finding a new EU or national job, but you don’t have to. These some of the more productive things people have chosen to do while on their unemployment leave from the EU:

  • Travel the world with family, do that long-planned gap year anywhere
  • Get new educational degree
  • Get vocational training
  • Give a shot at entrepreneurship while having a good safety net
  • Seriously develop a new hobby

Do you have any questions or suggestions for this article? Please drop me a message and let’s make this resource even more useful!

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