In most European societies today, typically both partners in a couple work. One or both partners may take a career break or work part-time for a while, for example to take care of small children, but both members of the couple will typically contribute long-term to the family finances and to their own pension, social security, and savings. This not only allows both partners in a couple to develop a professional identity, sense of self-worth and supportive social networks; it is also often important for the family’s financial security and well-being. Being employed also gives workers access to health insurance and unemployment support.
EUFASA data show that foreign service partners and spouses are, on average, highly educated, and that the vast majority (87% in 2019) want to work. However, regular international relocations, limited access to work permits abroad, and language barriers among other issues make it extremely difficult for partners and spouses to maintain their own employment when accompanying a foreign service officer abroad. Gaps in their employment history make it harder to find a job when returning home, and their sojourns abroad often disqualify them from receiving unemployment assistance, as well. Access to local job markets, employability, and the chance to find a job are therefore essential issues for foreign service partners and spouses. It is also in the interest of Ministries of Foreign Affairs to assist partners and spouses in assuring the right to work, maintenance of employment-related skills, and access to job opportunities in order to be able to recruit and post employees abroad as needed to meet foreign policy goals.
EUFASA advocates for better access to employment opportunities for partners and spouses.