You can leave on a short assignment to another EU country (maximum 2 years) while staying covered by your home country’s social security system; you will be then considered a posted worker.
You can be either an employee posted by your employer, or a self-employed person.
Rules on postings are designed to make it easier for you to work abroad for a limited period:
- You won’t need a work permit – unless you are an employee posted from Croatia to Austria or Germany, where restrictions apply to work in certain sectors.
- You won’t need to have your professional qualifications recognised; however, you may need to make a written declarationfor some professions
- You will keep on paying contributions to your home country’s authorities
- You will be covered by your home country’s social security
- In your host country you will however be subject to local rules – which means you could be asked to pay for services that are provided for free at home: find out about different social security systems in the EU
- Once you retire, you won’t have to deal with social security institutions from different countries – your host country’s institutions will not be involved.
While EU rules ensure that you can stay covered by your home social security, there are no EU-wide laws laying down which country can tax your income during a posting. This may be set out in national laws or tax agreements between countries – but these agreements do not cover all eventualities and vary considerably.
Remaining in your home social security system
If you wish to remain in your home social security system, you’ll need an A1 form (formerly the E 101 form). This form proves that you and your dependents are still covered by your home system while abroad – for up to 2 years.
▪ If you are an employee, make sure your employer gives you the A1 form;
▪ If you are self-employed, you can find out which body can issue this document by contacting your home–country liaison office for posted workers. To get the form, you have to prove that the activities you intend to pursue abroad are “similar” to those you pursued in your home country. How? See the EU guide on posting rules.
You should be able to present the A1 form to the authorities at any time during your stay abroad. If you’re unable to, you might have to pay social security contributions there. If you are checked and have a valid A1 form, your host country must recognise it.
The host country must recognise your valid A1 form.
Alan is a self-employed Czech construction worker who has gone to work in Ireland. Inspectors visited a construction site he was working on and declared that Alan’s A1 form (formerly the E 101) was not valid, potentially making him liable to pay social security contributions in Ireland.
Under EU law, it was not up to the Irish authorities to judge whether Alan was a validly posted worker or not. Only his home country (the country where he usually works) can declare an A1 form invalid. Once this was sorted out, the Irish authorities acknowledged that Alan did not have to pay contributions in Ireland.
You might also have to fill in an advance declaration stating your intention to work in the host country. If you are an employee, your employer should take care of this.
Staying longer than 2 years
When it’s clear from the start that you’ll be working abroad longer than 2 years, you can request an exemption to remain covered by your home social security system for the duration of your posting.
Such exemptions, which vary from case to case, require the agreement of the relevant authorities in every country concerned and are valid for a defined period only.
Without exemptions, you can only remain covered by your home system for 2 years. After that, you can continue working abroad, but will have to switch to the local social security system and pay contributions there.
If you don’t want to switch systems, you have to stop working for at least 2 months.
Exception — if you couldn’t complete the work specified in your A1 form due to unforeseen circumstances (illness, weather, delays in delivery, etc.), you or your employer may request an extension of your initial posting period until your planned work is completed, without having to observe the 2-month gap.
However, the length of time you can work in the host country while remaining covered by your home social security system is still limited to 2 years in total.
To get an extension, you must request it from the authority that issued your A1 form before the end of the initial posting period.
To work temporarily in another EU country, you don’t need to apply to have your qualifications recognized. You may, however, need to make a written declaration (paper or electronic) in the country you’re going to before you start practicing a regulated profession.
Your employer’s obligations
If you are an employee, your employer is obliged to comply with the host country’s basic rules on employee protection for the duration of your posting; these include:
▪ minimum wage (your salary may not be less than the local minimum wage)
▪ maximum work periods and minimum rest periods
▪ working hours (you may not work more than a defined amount of hours)
▪ minimum paid annual leave (you are entitled to holidays)
▪ health and safety at work
▪ employment conditions for pregnant women and young people
▪ rules prohibiting child labour.