EU Magistrate Demurs on Benefits for Injured Polish Worker

(CN) – A magistrate for Europe’s top court sided with the United Kingdom on Wednesday after it denied benefits to an immigrant who undertook registered work for just two months before sustaining an injury.

Under UK law, only workers are entitled to the income-related allowance for which Rafal Prefeta applied in 2011 after his injury, but Polish nationals in the UK lose their worker status if they have not worked for 12 uninterrupted months as a registered worker.

When Prefeta was injured, off the job, in March 2011, he had only worked pursuant to a worker-registration certificate for two months and six days.

Though Prefeta had been working consistently since 2009, about a year after immigrating, none of his pre-2011 work had been registered.

Prefeta also was collecting a jobseeker’s allowance from the time of his injury when the UK denied him the extra allowance for registered workers.

Already the UK’s Social Entitlement Chamber has ruled against Prefeta, but the Administrative Appeals Chamber invited the European Court of Justice to assess the legality of the UK’s worker requirements for Polish nationals.

The Luxembourg-based court will now begin deliberations on the matter with the recommendation submitted Wednesday by Advocate General Melchior Wathelet.

UK authorities were entitled “to exclude Polish nationals from the benefit of Article 7(3) of Directive 2004/38 [the EU free-movement directive] … where workers, although subject to the national requirement that their employment be registered, had not yet worked for an uninterrupted period of 12 months following the fulfillment of that requirement,” the opinion states. “In those circumstances, Polish nationals may not rely on Article 7(3) of Directive 2004/38.”

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