Case 53/81 Levin [1982] ECR 1035

Key point
  • The concept of ‘worker’ within the meaning of Article 45 TFEU is to be defined by EU law and not national law
  • There definition of ‘worker’ does not include earning at least the national minimum wage or having a particular motive for entering the member state
Facts
  • Levin accompanied her husband to the Netherlands for work, where she found part time employment
  • The Netherlands rejected her request to stay on the ground and issue arose as to whether she was a ‘worker’ within the meaning of Article 45 TFEU (ex Article 48 EEC Treaty)
  • The Netherlands argued that she did not qualify as a worker as she did not earn the national minimum wage, and her purpose for entering the country was not for employment
Held
  • The right to free movement of workers does not depend on earning at least the national minimum wage nor the purpose of entry
  • Levin is thus a worker within the meaning of Article 45 TFEU
Judgment

The concept of ‘worker’

  • ‘… the terms “worker” and “activity as an employed person” may not be defined by reference to the national laws of the member states but have a community meaning. If that were not the case , the community rules on freedom of movement for workers would be frustrated , as the meaning of those terms could be fixed and modified unilaterally: [11]
  • ‘… these concepts define the field of application of one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the treaty and , as such , may not be interpreted restrictively’: [13]

On minimum wage

  • The right to free movement of workers is not subject to any condition relating to the kind of employment or to the amount of income derived from it: [14]
  • Although part time employment might provide less than a national minimum wage but ‘constitutes for a large number of persons an effective means of improving their living conditions’, thus the effectiveness of community law in achieving its objectives of economic development and raising the standard of living will be impeded if the free movement of workers was reserved to full time workers: [15]

On purpose of entry

  • The enjoyment of the freedom of movement does not depend on the aims pursued by a national of a member state in applying for entry upon and residence in the territory of another member state, provided that an effective and genuine activity of employment is pursued: [21]
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