Temporary and contract agents

  • Email
  • Help

The conditions of employment of staff at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are based on the rules, principles and working conditions of the European civil service. The Agency has no permanent officials, but is staffed mainly by temporary and contract agents recruited through open selection procedures.

The Agency follows the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Union and the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community.

Working at EMA

EMA provides a multinational work environment in an intellectually stimulating atmosphere. The Agency's main working language is English.

The Agency is committed to maintaining an environment that enhances the skills and experience of its staff through the creation of learning opportunities and provision of training and development.

Types of contract

EMA staff typically have one of two main contract types: Temporary Agent or Contract Agent contracts. 

Temporary Agents

Temporary Agent contracts are offered for five years with the possibility of renewal for an indefinite period. Temporary Agent posts are classified according to the nature and importance of the duties:

  • Administrator function group (AD) comprises twelve grades from AD 5 to AD 16 corresponding to technical, administrative, advisory, linguistic and scientific duties;
  • Assistant function group (AST) comprises eleven grades from AST 1 to AST 11 corresponding to executive, technical and clerical duties.
  • Secretaries and clerks’ function group (AST/SC) comprises six grades from SC1 to SC6 corresponding to clerical and secretarial duties.

Temporary Agents serve a probationary period of nine months.

Contract Agents

The duration of contracts for Contract Agents varies according to the needs of the Agency, up to a maximum of 5 years’ renewable contract.

Contract Agent positions are classified in four function groups corresponding to the duties and responsibilities involved:

  • Function group I: comprises three grades corresponding to manual and administrative support service tasks;
  • Function group II: comprises four grades corresponding to clerical and secretarial tasks, office management and other equivalent tasks;
  • Function group III: comprises five grades corresponding to executive tasks, drafting, accountancy and other equivalent technical tasks;
  • Function group IV: comprises six grades corresponding to administrative, advisory, linguistic and equivalent technical tasks.

Contract Agents with a contract lasting one year or more serve a probationary periods of six months (function group I) or nine months (function groups II, III and IV).

Benefits package

The European Medicines Agency offers staff a competitive benefits package, in line with the Staff Regulations. The package includes:

  • medical cover;
  • allowances;
  • contribution towards private school fees for children;
  • a final salary based pension scheme.

The pay of staff members consists of a basic salary, weighted to compensate for the cost of living in London, plus additional allowances and deductions. The final salary is calculated by adding the relevant allowances and by deducting social security contributions and other taxes.

Annual leave entitlement starts at 24 days. This is in addition to the Agency holidays.

Basic salary

There is a basic salary scale for each grade, divided into a number of steps. Staff members progress automatically to the next step every two years until they reach the top of the scale for that grade. For examples of basic salaries and allowances, see:

Correction coefficient

The basic salary is subject to a country correction coefficient to compensate for the cost of living compared to Brussels. The current London correction coefficient is 141.8% and it is reviewed on annual basis. The current correction coefficient for the Agency 's future location, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is 108,0%.

Please consult the Eurostat and Commission websites for more information about the correction coefficient.

Expatriation or foreign residence allowance

Staff members who leave their Member State to take up employment at the Agency may be entitled to an additional allowance.

Family allowances

  • Household allowance: Staff who are married or have children are eligible for this allowance, currently 181.82€ plus 2% of the basic salary.
  • Dependent child allowance: Staff with dependent children receive a monthly dependent child allowance which is paid until the child reaches 18 years.  If the child pursues further education the allowance may continue up to a maximum of 26 years of age.
  • Pre-school allowance: Staff with children of a pre-school age may receive a small allowance. This typically stops when the child reaches five years.
  • Nursery contribution: Staff with small children may receive a contribution towards nursery costs. The amount is dependent on the household income.
  • Education allowance and Agency additional contribution: Education costs for dependent children in primary, secondary or university education may be reimbursed in part. The Agency can also provide an additional contribution towards costs for staff whose children enter fee-paying education in the United Kingdom.


Staff pay a Community tax at source. Deductions are also made for medical insurance, pensions and unemployment insurance.

Salaries are exempt from national tax.

Starting as a Temporary Agent

In some cases, Temporary Agents receive additional entitlements for a limited duration. These can include:

  • Installation allowance: Typically up to one month of basic salary.  Staff in receipt of household allowance may be entitled to up to two months of basic salary subject to certain conditions.
  • Daily subsistence allowance: Fixed amounts of 41.76€ or 33.67€ per day depending on whether the staff member is entitled to the household allowance or not. Staff not in receipt of the household allowance the daily subsistence allowance is granted up to 120 days. For staff members receiving the household allowance, the daily subsistence allowance is granted for 180 days. In some instances the daily subsistence allowance may be granted for the period of probation plus one month.
  • Removal and travel expenses: Staff members who have been recruited with a contract of at least twelve months are entitled to reimbursement of removal expenses up to the amount of a quotation approved in advance. The initial journey to take up duties is also reimbursed from the place of recruitment to the place of employment.

Social security

  • Medical insurance: Employees are covered under a medical insurance scheme called the Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme. This also covers death or invalidity.
    The total staff contribution is 1.8% (1.7% sickness  and 0.1% accident) of the basic salary. Family members and children can also be covered under certain circumstances.
    The scheme provides worldwide cover and allows the patient to seek reimbursement on medical costs. The normal reimbursement is 85% but ceilings apply.
  • Pension scheme: There is a final salary pension scheme, with an employee contribution of 10.1% of the basic salary and an additional contribution by the Agency.
    The normal retirement age is 66 but staff may work to 70 years of age. Staff accrue 1.8% of their final salary for each year of service with 70% being the maximum final basic salary achievable for pension purposes.

More information

How helpful is this page?

Average rating:

 Based on 127 ratings

Add your rating:

See all ratings
45 ratings
9 ratings
9 ratings
28 ratings
36 ratings

Tell us more

Related content

Related EU legislation

Related documents

Examples of job profiles