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. 

Entitlement conditions

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

JSIS

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.

Forms

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 (PMO-CHOMAGE@ec.europa.eu) 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 comment below or drop me a message and let’s make this resource better for other readers!

3 thoughts on “EU unemployment allowance and leave

  1. 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

    1. 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

      1. Thank you so much for your insightful feedback!
        Much appreciated.
        Best regards,
        Synead

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