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International working, the EEA and social security (A1) arrangements during the Covid pandemic: Rules now relaxed until 31 December 2021

Robert Salter reviews the EEU (and Swiss) social security authorities’ decision to extend the Covid-19 social security concession until 31 December 2021.

The European Economic Area (EEA) (and Swiss) Social Security authorities have now extended the previously-published Covid-19 social security concession until 31 December 2021. The concession provides a basis for ignoring the EU social security rules, where workers are having disrupted/altered working patterns because of Covid-19.

While member states are not obliged to follow this guidance in every scenario – and some countries have entered into alternative agreements with their neighbouring states – the concession does provide some guidance and comfort to both employers and employees (and the self-employed).

As a basic principle, the concession ensures that the social security legislation applicable before the start of the pandemic can continue to apply until 31 December 2021. Nonetheless, it is generally still recommended for employers (or the self-employed), to obtain an A1 certificate from the home country authorities.

One area which is not absolutely clear is whether the concession also applies to new employees  i.e. those hired to take up a position in a different jurisdiction, who have not been able to relocate (as yet) to their future home state, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. In practice however, one would hope that the authorities would be practical and accept that social security should be due in such cases, in the state where the employees would (but for Covid-19 travel restrictions) have relocated to.

Other points to note are:

  1. The concession means that previously-issued A1 certificates should remain valid, even though the underlying working pattern has (for temporary reasons), changed; but
  2. Nonetheless, employers should still consider the wider working pattern of their international employees and consider, for example, whether the ‘Covid-19 working pattern’ will actually become their long-term, indefinite working pattern. If this is likely to be case, it may not be correct to use the concession and the location of the social security liability could have changed.

Would you like to know more?

If you would like to discuss the above or how it may affect you and your business, please get in touch with your usual Blick Rothenberg contact or Robert Salter, using the details on this page.

You can also visit our Global Mobility page for more information.

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