Cross-border work in the EU: social security and the new framework agreement

The EU Administrative Commission has approved a new framework agreement on social security coordination, which will come into force on 1 July 2023. The agreement responds to the changing labour market, in particular digitalisation and the related increase in cross-border work. Under certain conditions, employees can benefit from it, but self-employed workers cannot.

In accordance with the rules of the Regulation on the coordination of social security systems no. 883/2004 and the implementing Regulation no. 987/2009, the physical performance of work in the territory of EU Member States is a decisive factor for determining the affiliation to a social security scheme. If the work is physically performed in the employee’s country of residence for at least 25% of the total working time, the employee is insured in that country. Therefore, in situations where an employer allows the employee to work remotely from a Member State other than the Member State where the employer has its registered office and where the employee normally performs work and is therefore insured, the employee’s social security system affiliation may change.

The new framework agreement brings greater flexibility. It is based on Article 16 of European Regulation no. 883/2004, which allows the Member States concerned to grant exemptions from the rules determining the relevant Member State. It will make it possible, without having to change the social security system affiliation, to carry out more than 25% and less than 50% of the working time in a country other than the country where the employer is established and where the employee is also insured, in the context of a cross-border telework. The so-called “telework” is precisely defined by the agreement. It is work based on a digital connection to the employer’s environment to which the employee remains connected for the purpose of carrying out his/her work duties. Manual activities are therefore excluded. The framework agreement applies to persons who normally work in the country where their employer is established but also perform telework for the employer in the country of their residence and do not engage in other economic activities. A further condition is that they have only one employer or multiple employers established in a single EU Member State.

Employees who work in Member States which accede to the framework agreement will benefit from this agreement. The full list of these countries is not yet available, but the Czech Republic will be one of them, together with Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Netherlands, Slovakia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland and Norway. The employee and his/her employer will be able to decide whether to follow the framework agreement or the standard EU social security coordination regulations provided the conditions for cross-border work are met.

Traditionally, affiliation to a social security scheme will have to be confirmed by the A1 form, which will be issued by an institution in the employer’s country of residence for a maximum period of 3 years, with the possibility of renewal, at the request of the employee/employer. Therefore, the application for the issuance of this form will have to be filed in this country. For a transitional period of one year, it will also be possible to apply retrospectively for a period starting on 1 July 2023 (provided that the Member States concerned have acceded to the framework agreement by that date). From 1 July 2024, it will only be possible to apply retrospectively for a maximum period of three months.

It is also worth noting that the current framework agreements that the Czech Republic has concluded with Austria and Germany as of 1 March 2023 will no longer be used as of 1 July 2023 because Austria and Germany will accede to the EU framework agreement as of that date.

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