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Salary and Hours

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ESA / About Us / Careers at ESA

As a recognised public international organisation, ESA has its own internal labour legislation. Together with other international organisations, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Council of Europe, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), ESA is part of the Co-ordinated Organisations - a forum for the common adjustment of salaries and allowances.


Gross remuneration is subject to an internal tax and is exempt from national income tax in ESA Member States, subject to Annex I of the ESA Convention.

Please note that the ESA remuneration may be subject to national income tax in non-Member States if you are still considered a tax resident there. This can also apply to ESA Member State Nationals who had tax obligations in a non-Member State in the past. We therefore suggest that you contact the tax authorities or seek the guidance of a tax advisor if there is a possibility that this applies to you.

Salary grades

ESA's salary scales vary slightly across Establishments to guarantee equal purchasing power.

The grade assigned to posts within ESA is determined on the basis of the duties and responsibilities associated with each post, as well as the minimum level of formal qualifications normally required to competently carry out the duties. Posts are classified in the A, L, B or C grade.

The vast majority of posts are A grade and involve either scientific or engineering activities or professional administration relating to law, finance, contracts or administration. Most professional posts are classified in the A2/A4 grade band. Managerial posts at the Division Head level are classified as A5 and Department Heads are A6.

Posts in the L grade are all in the L2/L4 grade band and cover professional translation activities. Those in the grade band B2/B4 or B5/B6 are mainly for secretarial, administrative or technical support activities.


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, part time or to do tele-working.

ESA staff are entitled to 12 public holidays and 32.5 days of annual leave each year (Note: This number is 30 days for Young Graduate Trainees and Research Fellows). 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 supplement

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. 

Basic family allowance

This is paid to staff members whose spouse has a low overall income and when they have established a family unit at the staff member’s place of work. 

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
  • 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 2017. 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 10% of the basic salary. This percentage is 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.