EU unemployment allowance and leave

EU unemployment allowance and leave

If you do not resign yourself but are forced to leave the European Commission or another EU institution at the end of your contract, you might be entitled to an EU unemployment leave and a rather generous unemployment allowance. 

Entitlement conditions

You will qualify for this benefit if you:

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

In short, you get the EU unemployment leave and unemployment allowance if your contract cannot be prolonged for legal reasons (for example, you’re a contract agent at the European Commission), or the respective EU institution does not prolong your contract for some other reason.

EU unemployment leave length depends on the years worked for an EU institutions
EU unemployment benefit: years of service vs. length of unemployment leave


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 extended 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. 

Unemployment allowance 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. The correction coefficient is not applied to the calculation of the unemployment allowance.

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.


Click on the link to download the appropriate European Commission form to claim the EU unemployment benefit.

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.

If you are looking for work in an EU institution, check out the article below about salaries in the various EU agencies with direct links to each institution’s vacancies portal.

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

What questions or suggestions do you have for this article? Please share in a comment below and let’s make this resource better for you and other readers!

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31 responses to “EU unemployment allowance and leave”

  1. Hi, Many thanks for this. Very useful – one question – do you receive child and family allowances while being on unemployment leave? Asking as I have 3 small children

  2. My CA contract ended recently because of a six year staff rule. The problem is I was advised the week before my contract ended that I will have to undergo a major operation (March) and some months recovery. I haven’t registered for any unemployment payment from the Commission because I cannot actively look for a new job. I understand a medical allowance can be paid in some circumstances but as I no longer have access to the EP intranet I cannot do anything. My HR manager is aware of the situation but nothing has been put in place and I’ve had no income for over 5 weeks. Can you advise me who to contact pls?

    • Please join a union asap (bbtk or similar) to get your papers faster proceeded. If not, you risk to wait a bit longer. Check all agencies for jobs, Epso, Facebook groups etc. You have to be active. Stay strong and don’t lose the hope.

    • Hi! I believe you should have registered for the unemployment. Medical reasons should not prevent you to qualify for the unemployment allowance. If there are any obligations the unemployment agency asks you to fulfill, these usually can be waived due to medical reasons.

      There used to be a very strict rule that you had to claim the EU unemployment allowance 8 days after ending employment. Unfortunatelly, there is now the possibility that you might not get any EU umemployment allowance at all.
      I hope that you can still salvage something! Please keep on contacting your previous institution’s HR or get in touch directly with the PMO.

  3. Hi, Thank you very much for the information. I have just concluded my contract and intend to avail of chomage, I have sent off the first set of documentation and I have registered with actiris. My question is more procedural as my HR office dont know so I hope this is within scope. It seems that with actiris you register online and you can generate the A15 form every month. They dont sign the CE-AATC from anymore. For the interaction with CAPAC is it necessary to create an account and then to take an appointment, or is it enough to call in at the end of the month and get the form stamped. Im a little unsure at to how this works. Thanks

  4. 1) will the benefits be paid delayed? 2) not be paid at all? 3) stopped completely ? 4) what day are they supposed to be signed by the national um institutions and submitted in Sysper? (Last day of January for January?
    Many thanks in advance!

  5. How long is the so-called “EU unemployment leave period”, eg. after a 5 years CA contract?
    From previous messages, I understand one can always get the EU unemployment allowance, even after a short term employment contract in a private company, as long as the allowance falls stills WITHIN the EU unemployment leave period. Correct?

  6. Dear Ben,

    Thanks for this and your other many useful articles, it really makes a difference to have all these materials in a one-stop place.
    I was just wondering, though, if the ceilings are updated to 2022 – I would say they are not. In case you have the time to update them.

    Thanks again for all your posts!

  7. Thank you so much for the information! So, if I understand correctly there are no family related reasons where one can claim unemployment benefits. My husband is a national civil servant and is being transferred to a new post in another EU city (no choice). If I want to follow him to keep my family together and have to resign before the end of my contract, I cannot claim any benefits?
    Thank you again!!

    • It seems that it’s impossible to get the unemployment allowance if you leave by your own initiative no matter the circusmstances. For me this seems to be very bizzare, but I haven’t yet read anything about finding a way around the regulations.

      Yours is a valid case where I believe the unemployment allowance should be paid to allow you to resettle and find a new job. I’m imagining a worst-case scenario where you have to leave an EU institutions job because your child or spouse becomes very sick and you have to care full-time for the family member. In this case you also would not only lose a well-paid job with health insurance, but would be completely unprotected financially. I’m finding it hard to wrap my head around this.

  8. Hi Ben,
    in case you reside in the Netherlands but you already receive a pension from another EU country or private pension fund, are you still entitled in unemployment allowance?

    • Thomas, apologies, but I don’t know the answer. Please ask your former institution’s HR or the PMO.

  9. Hello Ben,

    I wonder about a situation when you have a fixed contract and you decide that you dont want your contract to be renewed (but of course you work until the end of your contract and you tell your boss more than 3 months in advance that you will not be interested in the renewal). Will you be entitled to an EU unemployment leave and the allowance?

    Best regards,

    • Ella, hi! According to my understanding of the rules, in this case you would not be entitled to the unemployment allowance as you would be offered a contract extension, but you’d decline it.

      I personally think that this is a weird provision in the EU staff rules that leaves institutions staff with little social security if they have to leave work for personal reasons (personal sickness, need to care for family member, willingness to retrain yourself, horrible boss, etc.). I would like to know if this has ever been reviewed by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

  10. Thank you for your article! Do you know how tax declaration works in case of EU unemployed? If the person stays in Belgium, but not Belgian, is the unemployment benefit taxed?

    • Hi! The EU unemployment allowance, just as the EU salary and any other allowances, may not be taxed at the national level.

      PMO requires you to register with an unemployment agency in any of the EU member states and satisfy the national requirements (usually something along the lines of looking for a job, undergoing some training, regularly reporting to the institution), and so that you could get the monthly form that you are still unemployed. However, the national authorities have no taxing rights over the EU unemployment allowance; this is solely managed by the PMO.

      Out of my own experience, if you have a choice between several countries (geographical proximity, relatives, property, etc.), try to register in the one with fewer requirements on the unemployed. This makes your unemployment period much more enjoyable and leaves more time for recreation and real job search once you feel recovered from the previous job.

  11. Hi, this is really useful, thanks!
    I am working for the EU Commission at JRC Ispra (Italy), but once my contract ends I would like to receive my allowance in Belgium. I understood that in order to get the allowance I need to work for three months in Belgium after the end of my contract at the EU Commission.
    Could you confirm this?

    • Francesco, hi! It is a principle of the EU unemployment allowance that it is paid if you haven’t found work. If you would work any period in Belgium, you would not be entitled to the EU unemployment allowance. It is stated in the rules governing such situations that if you find work, the EU unemployment allowance is stopped. However, if you loose the work you found during the EU unemployment period, payment of the EU allowance is resumed (as are all the other benefits like JSIS coverage).

      Where you choose to reside during your EU unemployment leave has the impact of what national unemployment rules you have to satisfy/follow during the unemployment period. It does not directly affect your entitlement to the EU unemployment allowance.

      It used to be the case that the EU unemployment leave was paid 2 months after ending EU employment. For this reason you should have a financial cushion that allows you to survive this period without an income.

  12. Good afternoon, thank you. 1) Could you pls advise if those amounts are net, meaning after all taxes? Therefore when you mention I get minimum 1447€ , is that net, or are those gross figures to which taxes are applied so I get less?2) Does 60% of my previous salary include my whole salary including the 16% expatriation allowance?3)If I;l worked part time on the last 4 month, would the allowance be 60% of it? Or an average of the last year? Thank you so much

    • Hi!
      1. The amounts are “net”.
      2. I’m certain that the unemployment allowance includes household allowance and dependent child allowance, however, I’m not certain about the expatriation allowance. I suggest to either ask you institution’s HR or write to PMO.
      3. I don’t know about part-time work. It would be great if after you clarify this you would share with me so that I can update the article!

  13. Thank you for that useful information.
    What about the scenario if you work already several years and then changing a post and probationary for that post is not successful?
    How long unemployed allowance will be payed in such situation?

    • Thanks for finding the site useful! According to my reading of staff rules, the total uninterrupted working time for one institution would count, so also the previous position’s time. However, if the new position is at another EU institution then I believe you would be just entitled to some very short unemployment period in accordance to rules that regulate probationary periods.

  14. Thank you Ben. A really clear article on a subject that has been difficult to research.

    Back on Brexit. Do you know if this article applies to UK staff whose contracts will be terminated with notice on 31/12/2020? Are the entitlement conditions still met in this scenario?

    • Hi, Sarah! I see no reason why UK nationals should be left without social guarantees, even if the UK doesn’t settle its outstanding contributions to the EU budget. All EU employees make their social contributions (pension, unemployment, etc.) so UK nationals should also be covered.

  15. Hi,

    Thanks for that useful information. Do you know whether Irish passport holders from Northern Ireland are still entitled EU unemployment allowance if they return there after completing a contract in an EU institution? Since Brexit, Northern Ireland is no longer in an EU Member State but someone from there with an Irish passport is still an EU citizen.

    Many thanks again.

    • Your rights to an unemployment allowance are not affected by where you settle while receiving it. Former EU employees are known to take a gap year, travel the world, and still receive the allowance. As long as you fulfil the obligations set by the PMO (the monthly form from the national authorities) and the unemployment institution you have registered with, you will receive the allowance.

      Important to know – the unemployment allowance doesn’t get indexed by the ‘correction coefficient’ so you’ll receive the full planned amount even if you settle in a jurisdiction with a low coefficient.

  16. Good morning,
    Thank you for this helpful article.
    I would appreciate some advice on the following:
    1. JSIS: can I continue to benefit from the JSIS health insurance even when the country you are living in has an universal health coverage…?
    2. Is it possible to apply for another position at the EC even if you did not pass the probationary period of your previous position.
    3. What happens to your medical records once you leave the EC?

    Thanks in advance,

    • Synead, hi! Thanks for you questions. I’ll try to answer as best as I can.
      1. Nominally JSIS offers top-up coverage. Answer to this question differs based on whether:
      a) you work for an institution in a country who’s national you are. Plenty of colleagues in such a situation are lucky and get reimbursed anyway in most cases. However, there are instances when JSIS refuses coverage. It, of course, matters what is the stated reason for denied reimbursement claims. Often in order to get reimbursed you have to demonstrate that the service was either unavailable in the public sector healthcare or that there were “gross deficiencies of the system”. This might be some research, official website that shows the queues for services. Some colleagues have managed to get reimbursed if they get a note from their family doctor who as an expert certifies that it was impossible or impractical to refer you to state-funded services. If you get denied reimbursement frequently, if a particular healthcare service is not an emergency, you can ask for a previous authorization to receive the services. Once you get that, there should be no issues with the reimbursement.
      b) if you work in a different country than the one you are originally from. In the latter case, it also matters if you have taken the steps to enroll in the healthcare system of the country you are working in. It’s generally better not to enroll in the local healthcare system of the country your institution is located in. In most cases when JSIS denies reimbursement, you just have to write a standard letter to your own national healthcare institution asking to either reimburse a particular expense (attach the proof of payment) or provide a refusal to pay. Once you receive the refusal to pay, just forward it to JSIS/PMO and ask to reevaluate the reimbursement claim.
      2. Yes, it definitively is. And you definitively should. The institutions are quite bad at getting in touch with previous employers unless you’re applying for a very high-level position.
      3. This would be something you would have to ask JSIS or/and PMO. My guess is that after the entry into force of the GDPR data retention periods should be shorter. However, I left one institution in 2017 and rejoined another in 2019. All of my reimbursement claims form 2014 when I started working for the EU were still available. If interest, try to ask the European Data Protection Supevisor. Contacts here

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  1. Hi, Many thanks for this. Very useful – one question – do you receive child and family allowances while being…