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The ECJ rules on social security provisions for migrant workers

January 2009 - Employment. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

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24-06-2008 - The case concerned a single mother of two living in Germany and working in Holland. The German authorities had refused to grant child benefits, arguing that she was covered by Dutch legislation. Under Dutch legislation, she would not have been entitled to child benefits because her children were already 18 years old. A number of questions arose concerning the interpretation of the rules on the application of social security schemes to migrant workers and their families.

Judgment by the European Court of Justice

The case concerned a single mother of two living in Germany and working in Holland. The German authorities had refused to grant child benefits, arguing that she was covered by Dutch legislation. Under Dutch legislation, she would not have been entitled to child benefits because her children were already 18 years old. A number of questions arose concerning the interpretation of the rules on the application of social security schemes to migrant workers and their families.

The Court established that although, in principle, the applicable legislation is the social security legislation of the country of employment, the objective is to contribute to improving the standard of living and conditions of employment of workers. On those grounds, the Court held that the social security provisions for migrant workers do not preclude a migrant worker from receiving child benefits under the national legislation of the country of residence if the worker is not required under such legislation to be employed in that country.

The Court said that it is for the referring German court to determine whether the single mother satisfies the condition of residence.

The case reinforces 

  • the principle that the applicable social security legislation is that of the country of employment, but also

  • the possibility of departing from this principle if the social security legislation of the country of employment fails to provide an improvement of the worker's standard of living and conditions of employment and the legislation of the country of residence does.

jlm@norrbomvinding.com

Jens Lund Mosbek

This information does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such

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