Social Security After Brexit: Internationally Mobile Employees

Following the end of the ‘transition period’ on 31 December 2020, the social security implications for internationally mobile employees between the UK and the EU will become more complicated.

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Following the end of the ‘transition period’ on 31 December 2020, the social security implications for internationally mobile employees between the UK and the EU will become more complicated. The Withdrawal Agreement provides that existing arrangements for employees internationally mobile at 31 December are capable of continuing unchanged ‘for as long as they continue without interruption’. However, the position is different for employees who become internationally mobile from 1 January 2021. The UK has agreed a reciprocal agreement with Ireland which broadly provides for the same outcomes as under the current EU regulations. But for employees internationally mobile between the UK and other EU member states, EEA members and Switzerland, the position is not yet finalised and will depend on the outcome of any final deal reached between the UK and the EU.

Up to, and including, 31 December 2020, the social security coverage of internationally mobile employees working between the UK and EU is covered by the EU social security regulations (Regulation (EC) No. 883/2004 and 987/2009), ensuring that individuals are only liable to pay contributions in a single member state, and which provide clear (if complex) rules for determining in which state that is, under a multitude of different circumstances.

The most common examples under the current regulations include:

  • the default position is that individuals are subject to social security in the country in which they work; however
  • individuals being seconded to another EU member state for up to five years generally remain within their home country social security (and are therefore exempt from paying into the host country system); and
  • individuals who regularly work in multiple member states are generally within the system of the country in which they live, so long as they work at least 25% of their time in that state.

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