The Concept of “Worker” under the Principle of Free Movement of Workers and Its Implications for the Protection of Workers in the European Union

Agata Ludera-Ruszel


The competence of the European Union in the field of labour law is limited to the support, complementation and coordination of the activities of the Member States in the exhaustive areas of labour law. The diversity of national definition of legal concepts used in EU challenges the harmonisation of national legal orders and their gradual convergence. The lack of consistency between Member States in respect of determination of who qualifies as a “worker” in national legal orders lead to the differences between Member States, as regards the application of the minimum standards to the same category of persons performing a paid job. This can undermine the objectives pursued by directives and may jeopardise their effectiveness. A uniform concept of “worker” has not yet been developed at the EU level. The starting point for any discussion about the concept of “worker” in EU law is the definition of “worker” provided for the principle of free movement of workers enshrined in Art. 45 of TFEU. Given the non-discriminatory purpose of the concept of worker under the principle of free movement of workers, this article is going to consider whether this concept has the potential for broader protection of workers in the EU.

ASJC: 3308, JEL: K31 

Słowa kluczowe: European Union, free movement of workers, primary European Union law, secondary European Union law / pracownik, Unia Europejska, swobodny przepływ pracowników, pierwotne prawo Unii Europejskiej, wtórne prawo Unii Europejskiej

Bednarowicz B. (2019) Delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights: The New Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions in the European Union, “Industrial Law Journal,” Vol. 48, Issue 4.

Risak M., Dullinger T. (2018) The Concept of “Worker” in EU law. Status Quo and Potential for Change, Brussels.

Tomaszewska M. (2011) Prawo integracji stosunku pracy. Między jednością a różnorodnością, Gdańsk.

Legal acts

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union of 26 October 2012, OJ C 2010/83.

Regulation (EU) No 492/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on freedom of movement for workers within the Union, OJ L 2011/141.

Pierwotną wersją czasopisma jest wersja elektroniczna publikowana w internecie.

Czasopismo zostało dofinansowane ze środków Ministerstwa Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego na podstawie umowy nr 284/WCN/2019/1 z dnia 16 lipca 2019 r. z pomocy przyznanej w ramach programu „Wsparcie dla czasopism naukowych".