7-year rule for non-permanent staff – What does it imply?

*Update 28.06.2023, note that if you do get the 7th ‘unicorn’ year (well done!), you may have to redo the 9-month probation period. Yes, after 6 years of employment you will have to repeat this step: 9 of your last 12 months in a 7-year career will be spent on probation. Consider how this impacts requests for annual leave or the ability to push back when your workload exceeds what is humanly possible.*

Original article: Generation 2004 has clarified the new provisions following the social dialogue with HR and trade unions! The 7-year rule applies to non-permanent staff for specific tasks or for specialised tasks (if the skills are not already available within the institution):

  • temporary agents (TAs)
  • contract agents (CAs)
  • agency staff (‘intérimaires’) (up to 3 years of services are not taken into account for the 7-year rule)

According to these rules the contract duration should be calculated in this way:

  • 1 month comprises 20 working days
  • 1 year comprises 220 working days
  • for self-employed workers,  service providers and intérimaires: the number of days invoiced to the Commission are taken into account 
  • in the case of part-time work, one day worked part-time shall count as a full day; leave and sick leave shall, if the contract is not terminated, be included when calculating the services rendered.

The Commission’s anti-cumulation rule of a maximum of 7 years is measured over a 12-year period (‘rolling’ period of 12 years).  


The non-permanent staff’s working scheme:

  • 6 years as CA for the European Commission
  • 1 year as TA for the same institution (European Commission)
  • 5 years for another EU institution (e.g. European Parliament (EP) or in the private sector (PS)

6y CA + 1y TA + 5y EP/PS = 12y[1]

In accordance with these rule and based on the example, the person could resume working for the Commission as a contract agent after the 12-year period.

NEW provisions: It has been decided to limit the personal scope of application of the 7-year maximum duration (7-year rule) by excluding time served as seconded national experts (SNEs) from the calculation thereof.


The total duration of engagement of a CA under Article 3b including all tasks performed in all function groups in the European Commission remains 6 years (1540 days).[2] This rule is ‘cast in stone’ in the staff regulations.

[1]According to point III of the annex to decision C(2004) 1597/6,  in order to know whether a contract is eligible or not, it is the end date of the desired contract and the benefits are taken into account carried out in the previous 12 years (including the contract requested). The end date of the requested contract is therefore the reference date for calculating the 12-year period. Any benefit older than 12 years on the reference day is neutralised. If a benefit is partly older than 12 years and partly later, only the part older than 12 years is neutralized. This is repeated in Decision C(2011) 7071.

[2] Staff Regulations (Title IV, Chapter 5, Article 88, b).

6 thoughts on “7-year rule for non-permanent staff – What does it imply?

  1. Hi,

    There’s something I don’t understand… what does the following sentence mean?

    “for self-employed workers, service providers and agency staff (intérimaires): the number of days invoiced to the Commission are taken into account”

    So, for a freelance or someone who’s working in the Commission as intramuros (hired by the service provider), what are the implications of this? If someone has been working here as ‘intramuros’ for 5 years, would he/she be allowed to apply for CA only for one year? What if that period is above 6 years, then that person won’t be able to apply as CA?

    Kind Regads,

  2. I think maybe the time invoiced to the Commission is only taken into account AFTER you have been temporary agent, contract agent o intérimaire?
    So, after working 6 years as CA, if someone becomes freelance o hired by a external provider for the Commission, that time won’t be discounted for you (so you can’t apply again as CA as long as you’re working under those conditions).

    Is that right?

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi, Thanks for your question.
      Sorry we have not answered yet but we have missed it before the holidays closure and will only be able to answer when we are back in January.
      Meanwhile we wish you a happy new year!

        1. Hi,

          First, my apologies for the late reply.

          Working as a freelance hired by an external provider for the Commission is not consider as a Commission’s contract. In this case will apply the point III of the appendix to decision C (2004) 1597. It should be useful to make a calculation. If I can help you, feel free to contact me by phone or my email.

  3. Dear G2004,
    Thank you for the information provided in that post. I have a question related to the example provided above: Is the reasoning there valid for the CA3b as well?
    If the answer is YES, are there any other conditions that should be met?
    If the answer is NO (a person who has worked as a CA3b for 6 years canNOT resume working for the EC as a CA3b after 12 years), I suggest you make the example more precise by substituting all “CA with “CA3a””.
    Kind regards,

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