Each person that loses a job is entitled to claim unemployment benefit. When in a cross-border situation, the country of last employment is generally responsible for processing the unemployment benefit claim.
In which country should a person apply?
A person must register as a jobseeker with the employment services and claim unemployment benefit in the country where the person last worked, unless the person resides in a different country. In general, to receive unemployment benefit, a person needs to stay in the country which pays the benefit. However, under certain conditions the person can go to look for work in another EU country and continue to receive the unemployment benefit from the country of last employment (see Export Principle).
Which country pays the unemployment benefit?
A fully unemployed frontier worker – a person working in one Member State but resident in another Member State to which the person returns daily or at least once a week – has to claim unemployment benefit in the Member State of residence, whereas a fully unemployed cross-border worker can either claim benefit in the country of last employment or can return to the country of residence and receive unemployment benefit there. For partially unemployed persons the Member State of employment is responsible for granting unemployment benefit, regardless of the country of residence of the person (no such provisions in the Maltese scheme).
How is eligibility to benefit determined? – Principle of Aggregation
Each country establishes its own eligibility criteria including the qualifying periods of insurance required for the payment of the benefit. When the duration of the work activity is insufficient, the periods of insurance completed under the legislation of any other Member State are taken into account by the institution of the country in which the claim for unemployment benefit is submitted. The latter country aggregates the insurance periods completed in other Member State/s, provided that, the person was working between the date of arrival in that country and the date of first registration as a jobseeker. Document U1 is the portable document which certifies the periods of insurance completed in an EU Member State. The U1 document is issued by the institution of the country in which the person worked. It is advisable that a person requests a U1 document from the country of last insurance before moving to Malta.
How is the benefit calculated?
Not all Member States calculate the unemployment benefit in the same way; some schemes provide for a fixed rate of benefit (such as Malta) while other schemes are income-based. When benefits are income-based, only salaries or professional income received in the state of last employment are taken into account. Also, in some countries the amount of unemployment benefit increases according to the number of members of the family, even if these reside in another Member State.
A person in receipt of unemployment benefit from one country, may opt to go search for work in another Member State. In that case, the unemployment benefit received in the former country may be exported accordingly. The jobseeker must inform the competent institution for the payment of the unemployment benefit and the latter shall make the necessary arrangements to continue paying the benefits due to the jobseeker, even if he/she is no longer subject to the control procedures of that country. However, when opting to export the benefit to from one Member State to another, a jobseeker shall be subject to the employment and control procedures of the latter country. The benefit may be exported for a period of 3 months. However, if the competent authority (of the country paying the benefit) is satisfied that the jobseeker has good prospects of finding employment in the other country, the 3-month period may be extended to 6 months.
In terms of the Maltese scheme, the following benefits are considered as Unemployment Benefits:
When a person’s work activity has been confined to the Maltese social security scheme only, or when the periods of insurance completed in Malta are such that the eligibility criteria are satisfied, the national procedures will apply. However, if a person’s work activity involves one or more EU Member States, the EU rules on social security coordination are applied as outlined in the following scenarios.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. I was insured and living in Malta before becoming unemployed, but I am not eligible for unemployment benefit. What can I do?
When a person insured under the Maltese social security scheme claims unemployment benefit according to the national procedures, but does not satisfy the contribution conditions, the insurance record for the purposes of unemployment benefit, completed in another EU Member State is required. This record is presented in the form of a portable document (document U1) which can be requested directly by the person from the country of previous insurance. Alternatively, document U002 can also be exchanged between social security institutions. In such event, therefore, the person should get in touch with the Department of Social Security to initiate the procedure. Once the U1 or U002 document is received, the unemployment benefits claim is revised accordingly.
2. I was insured in Malta but now moved to another EU Member State. How can I obtain a record of my insurance periods in Malta?
When a person moves to another EU Member State and is required to provide information about the previous insurance completed in Malta, an online application for document U1 is available. Once all the relevant documentation is submitted, the document is issued electronically directly to the person.
Alternatively, document U002 can also be exchanged between social security institutions. The competent institution in the Member State of residence should request the information directly from the Maltese social security institution. In order to hasten the process, the person should provide the competent institution with the documents relevant to the Maltese scheme such as:
- the social security number
- the FS3 documents (issued by the Maltese employer) covering the periods of employment in Malta, or
- the social security contributions receipts in case of self-employed persons
Once completed, the insurance periods are sent directly to the competent institution in the Member State of residence.
3. I am insured in Malta but reside in another Member State. How can I claim unemployment benefit?
A person who resides in another Member State but is insured in Malta cannot claim unemployment benefit directly from Malta.
Alternatively, the person can register as a jobseeker in the Member State of residence and claim unemployment benefit there. Once the Member State of residence determines that the person effectively maintained habitual residence in that Member State during the period of employment in Malta, the benefit is granted in accordance with the country’s national provisions. Subsequently, the Member State of residence requests a reimbursement of funds from Malta.
In this case, it is also advisable that the person applies for a U1 document as evidence of the insurance periods completed in the Maltese scheme. This document should be presented to the institution of the Member State of residence.
4. I am insured in another EU Member State but reside in Malta. How can I claim unemployment benefit?
A person who resides in Malta but is insured in another Member State cannot claim unemployment benefit directly from that Member State.
Alternatively, the person can register as a jobseeker with the Public Employment Services and a claim for unemployment benefit will be automatically registered. If it is determined that the person effectively maintained habitual residence in Malta, the benefit are granted in accordance with the national procedures. Subsequently, the Malta requests a reimbursement of funds from Member State of employment.
5. I am in receipt of unemployment benefit from Malta and would like to look for a job in another Member State. Will my benefits stop?
The EU rules provide for the export of unemployment benefit from one Member State to another. A person in receipt of Unemployment Benefit from Malta, can opt to continue the jobsearching activities in another EU Member State. The person will have to abide by the control procedures laid down by the Public Employment Services in the other Member State.
A person wishing to export the unemployment benefit to another Member State should contact the Department of Social Secuirty at least 2 weeks before departure to confirm the eligibility for export and to make the necessary arrangements. A portable document U2 will be provided indicating a 7-day time period starting from the previously agreed date of departure, within which the person must register with the Public Employment Services in the other Member State. The latter will eventually inform Malta of the date of registration and will keep providing monthly follow-ups. The benefits will continue until expiry or until the person finds employment. More information is available here.
6. I am in receipt of unemployment benefit from another EU Member State and would like to look for a job in Malta. What should I do?
A person who moves to Malta to continue the jobsearching activities must register with the local Public Employment Services within the 7-day period indicated in the document U2 provided by the Member State paying the benefit.
After the registration is completed, you should present your U2 document as well as the confirmation of registration issued by Jobsplus to the Department of Social Security. More information is available here.