Why is this important to a UK employer?
If you’re a UK employer, and you have workers traveling to the EU to work, you need to check to make sure that you don’t have a pay a local social security payment to the country where your workers travel to. It’s an issue then for anyone with EU customers or clients.
Did UK workers in the EU have a pay a local social security contribution before Brexit?
In most cases, no, if UK employers complied with the rules. This is because EU rules generally allowed UK workers and employers to continue to pay their social security contributions (NI payments) in the UK whilst they were temporarily working in the EU, subject to some rules and a process. Other than this, the general rule was that the social security payment always had to be paid where the worker was actually working (i.e. in the EU for the days that a worker spent there).
Briefly, what was the process?
UK employers needed to obtain a form from HMRC, called an A1 (or E101). This confirmed that the employer was paying UK NI payments for the worker. This evidence then needed to be sent before travel to the EU member state where the worker was traveling to, (the process was called advance notification, and still exists). Provided that this was done, then the UK worker in the EU just carried on paying UK NICs. But there were limits – generally the scheme only lasted 24 months, and a worker sent to replace a worker in the same place in the EU doing the same job had to pay local NI from the first day of work.
Has the UK/EU trade agreement changed anything?
Overall, no. So, the general rule is that workers will pay social security contributions in the place where the activities take place, (in other words, wherever they are working in the EU), subject to two changes – if they are multi-state workers, or detached workers.
Is a “detached worker” a new category of mobile worker then, with rights to travel into the EU without a visa?
No. A detached worker is simply a new term definition for workers who travel to the EU to work, but can continue paying their social security contributions in the UK. Being a detached worker does not give the person the right to travel and work in the EU, either with or without a visa or work permit.
What then is a detached worker?
There are various definitions in the trade agreement but the most important one is the one for employed workers. To qualify, the worker needs to be an employee, for an employer that normally carries on its activities in the same state where the worker is employed (in this case a UK employer with a UK worker). They then need to be sent to work temporarily to another state (in this case, an EU member state) for a period of up to 24 months, provided that they are not replacing another worker.
If I am a detached worker then, can I continue to pay my social security contribution in the UK for the time that I work in the EU?
Yes you can – subject to having an A1 form that proves that you are paying your contribution in the UK. You are likely to have to send this to each EU country that you work in – a process called advance notification; without this, you may need to pay a local social security contribution in the place you are sent to work.
Does this rule apply throughout the EU?
Each member state of the EU can choose whether to sign up to this part of the agreement. So far, only Austria, Hungary, Portugal and Sweden have confirmed that they will sign up to these rules, but the time limit to make this decision has not yet run out, so more states may join the scheme in the future. Any state not signing up could come to a separate agreement with the UK, or just require UK workers to pay their social security contributions in the place they are sent to work.
What should I do if I am sending a UK worker to the EU now?
Check with the country that you are sending the work to first, and then make sure that you have an A1 form. Then send the A1 form to the state where you are sending the worker.
Where can I find the contact points in each member state of the EU?
There is a list of national contact points available on the EU website – https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/national-contact-points/index_en.htm?topic=work&contacts=id-611492
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Author: IEM Consultancy