Brexit update on Social Security

The EU has notified the UK that all Member States have expressed their wish to opt-in to apply the detached worker provision. This means that workers moving temporarily between the UK and the EU will continue to pay social security contributions in their home state, and receive necessary healthcare treatment in the country where workers are temporarily posted.

It has now been confirmed that all of the EU countries have signed up to the detached worker provisions within the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. This means that UK employers will be able to claim an exemption from the host country social security scheme for regular posted workers. However, there is no “Article 16” equivalent in the new rules so that exemption will only apply to assignments that are expected to last for less than two years.

Whilst this is a welcome measure, a number of problems may also arise.

At the outset of an assignment, where the expectation is that this will be for more than two years, host country social security will be payable.

For assignments of less than two years, home country social security will be payable, but if the assignee extends beyond two years, host country social security will be payable from year two. There was some surprise that the old "Article 16" provision was not included in the new rules which previously allowed an extension of an A1 certificate for up to five years by mutual agreement, so it may be that this will be inserted at a future date. However, for the time being, two years is the limit.

Consideration will therefore need to be given as to whether assignments should be limited to less than two years at the outset, especially where the host country has a high social security contribution rate and/or the administration processes of enrolment into the various schemes is extremely complex. However, it will not be possible for a UK employer to apply for a two year social security certificate from HMRC whilst simultaneously applying for a visa/work permit for a longer period.

It is recommended that employers consider the social security costs of any assignment which is expected to last for more than two years and take care to ensure that secondment letters and visa applications reflect this.

Please contact us for more information on how we can assist by calling 0207 100 2127 or via email.

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