The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that EU nationals retain their status as workers for six months, even if they have only worked for two weeks in the host country.
Case C‑483/17 Tarola v Minister for Social Protection concerned a Romanian national living in Ireland. Mr Tarola claimed jobseeker’s allowance on the basis of his worker status under EU law, which was refused.
The Irish courts made a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice asking for guidance on whether two weeks worth of work on a casual rather than fixed term contract was enough to entitle Mr Tarola to worker status during the six months of involuntary unemployment which followed.
The Court of Justice held that EU citizens are entitled to be treated as workers in these circumstances:
Article 7(1)(a) and (3)(c) of Directive 2004/38 must be interpreted as meaning that a national of a Member State who, having exercised his right to free movement, acquired, in another Member State, the status of worker within the meaning of Article 7(1)(a) of that directive, on account of the activity he pursued there for a period of two weeks, otherwise than under a fixed-term employment contract, before becoming involuntarily unemployed, retains the status of worker for a further period of no less than six months under those provisions, provided that he has registered as a jobseeker with the relevant employment office.Paragraph 58
The judgment is consistent with the CJEU’s earlier decisions on retention of worker status. It reflects the clear intention in EU legislation for worker status to continue for at least six months while the citizen tries to find a job. But the CJEU’s reluctance to define a minimum period of work which is required before an EU citizen becomes a worker risks alienating member states.