Hours and allowances

Staff at ESA work a 40-hour five-day week with a flexible working hours system. Depending on the nature of the assignment, special evening and weekend arrangements may be necessary on occasion to cover launch-related or general work requirements. To assist staff with balancing their professional and personal lives, ESA also offers the possibility of working flexi-time or part time.

ESA staff are entitled to 12 public holidays and 32.5 days of annual leave each year. In addition, expatriate staff are entitled to eight days home leave every two years, under certain conditions. The Agency has the maternity, paternity, parental/family care and sick leave provisions of a modern employer and may grant special leave for various personal and family-related reasons.

In addition to the basic salary (subject to deductions for pension and social security contributions) staff may be eligible for a number of additional allowances and indemnities. Eligibility for these depends on a series of factors and personal circumstances. ESA staff are not entitled to similar national allowances. If the spouse is entitled to a national allowance then this amount is deducted from the staff member's allowance.

Child allowance

Child allowance is paid for any dependant child under the age of 18 as well as for any child aged between 18 and 26 carrying out full-time studies, vocational training or military service. 

Household allowance

This is paid to staff entitled to a child allowance. If you are married and have no dependent children, eligibility depends on your spouse's income level. 

Expatriation allowance

Staff members who were not nationals of their Establishment's host country and who had not been residing continuously in that country for at least a year when they entered into service at ESA, may be eligible for an expatriation allowance. Previous service in the host country with own national administration or another international organisation does not count as continuous residence for these purposes.

When determining the continuous nature of the residence, and as a consequence the entitlement to expatriation allowance, the Agency mainly considers the physical place of work of the person concerned at the time of appointment. In addition, a number of objective factual elements reflecting a relatively stable relationship with the country concerned over a certain period of time may be taken into account such as:

  • duration and frequency of stay
  • place of residence of spouse, children, other members of the family
  • location of children's schools
  • availability of permanent housing
  • previous employment
  • sources of income

Interruptions in residing in a given country for personal or professional reasons (such as vacations or official missions) do not automatically result in a discontinuity of the residence in that country.

The Agency's decision is independent of any formal qualification made by national authorities. Registration in a population, social security or fiscal register is therefore not decisive as far as the qualification made by the Agency is concerned, although it may be an indication of continuous residence.

Below are two examples of how the criteria given above are applied.

Example 1:
A new staff member was appointed at ESTEC in September 2011. He is of Swedish nationality and spent two years studying in the Netherlands for a Master's degree prior to appointment.

Depending on the other circumstances of the case, this staff member will normally be entitled to an expatriation allowance in the absence of previous employment with a physical place of work in the Netherlands and given the temporary nature of the studies.

Example 2:
A new staff member was appointed at ESRIN in September 2011. She is of Spanish nationality and worked as a contractor at ESRIN for one year prior to appointment.

This staff member will normally not be entitled to an expatriation allowance because her physical place of work, prior to being appointed, was at ESRIN.

Allowance is 14% of the basic salary or 18% for staff entitled to a household allowance.

This percentage progressively decreases after 10 years of service. 

For staff taking up duty as of 1 April 2012, a new expatriation scheme is in force, with the allowance set at 10% of the basic salary, progressively reduced by two percentage points after 5 years until it reaches 0% as from year 10. Entitlement to this allowance resumes when the staff member moves to another country where he/she is eligible to expatriation allowance.

Education allowance

Staff members entitled to an expatriation allowance are also entitled to an education allowance for each dependent child. Entitlement begins in primary school and ends once a child completes full-time studies. 

Installation allowance

This is paid to staff upon joining the Agency or when reassigned to another ESA duty station provided they have no residence at their disposal within 100 km of the duty station, and that the posting is for more than one year.

The Agency also covers removal and travel expenses between the country of origin and the duty station, both on commencing and ceasing employment, according to certain terms.

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