Language Assistants' employment status and pension

by ISCTE-IUL

This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 29th January 2014 and has been read 3169 times.

We recently received a question about Language Assistants' employment status, and thought it would be useful to publish the British Council's response...

Question: I have a "technical inquiry" but one which is more bureaucratic in nature. Does anyone know the official status that Language Assistants are considered under while employed for the Year Abroad in EU countries? Are there agreements between EU countries that pension contributions will be regularly made? Although no one thinks about this at the time (who does when you're 20 years old!), it's very important to know what the official agreements are.

Answer: This is a good question and one which it’s difficult to give a general answer to as the situation is different in each country. In some EU countries the Language Assistants are paid a wage like any other national of that country and in other countries, the money they are paid is treated as an allowance or grant.

I’m of the understanding that it depends whether Language Assistants pay social security contributions from their pay or not as to whether they are eligible for a pension in that country. In France for example, Language Assistants pay social security contributions from their pay which allows them access to the French healthcare system like any other French resident. Language Assistants to France are therefore entitled to a (small) state pension when they reach retirement age.

In Spain for example, the pay that Language Assistants receive is treated more like an allowance or grant and they don’t pay social security contributions, meaning they’re not entitled to a state pension. All Language Assistants to Spain are told to take out health insurance prior to their arrival.

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