EU Court: Unemployed Person can Claim Unemployment Benefits in Another EU Country After Sick Leave

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An unemployed person who previously received benefits due to illness in an EU country is entitled to unemployment benefits after moving to another EU country.


The UWV wrongly refused to pay man unemployment benefits after a period of work interruption in Germany, where he lived and worked and received ‘Krankengeld’ before moving to the Netherlands.

The case revolves around K., a Turkish man who came to the Netherlands in 1979 and was employed by various Dutch employers until 2005. Then he left for Germany to live and work there. In August 2015, the man reported ill to his then German employer due to eye problems and went on sick leave. After a few weeks, he received a German sickness benefit, ‘Krankengeld’.

In March 2016, the German employer terminated K.’s employment contract, and he became unemployed. A few weeks earlier, after eye surgery, he had moved back to the Netherlands and, according to himself, was planning to start working again as a frontier worker.

After his dismissal, K. knocked on the door of the UWV for unemployment benefits, but the government agency rejected the application and referred it to the German benefits agencies. He appealed this. The case was then submitted to the highest European court.

The court relies on European rules on coordinating social security systems. It points out that “they must guarantee that the right of free movement of persons in the EU can actually be exercised”. Therefore, the reason someone chooses a residence does not matter, and K. can therefore make himself “available to the employment services” in the Netherlands, according to the court.

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