With the UK and EU borders starting to open, many of us are looking forward to the prospect of getting back into the swing of being able to travel again. Prior to Brexit, UK Citizens enjoyed the freedom to travel, live, holiday, and work anywhere in the EU without the need for a visa or work permit. There is a tremendous volume of trips made each year from the UK to the EU, with a total of 6.24 million business trips being made in 2019. With the UK’s exit from the EU, freedom of movement is no longer in effect between the two regions and UK nationals are now subject to Schengen immigration and social security rules. For many UK citizens this will drastically impact how and when we travel around the EU.
The new Schengen visa requirements for UK nationals
The EU and UK have an agreement in place that allows most UK-passport holders visa-free travel for a combined total of 90-days in a rolling 180-day period – which includes weekends and personal days. Once the 90-day threshold has been reached, individuals must leave the Schengen Area until their 90-day allotment is reset, or have a residents or work authorisation in place. Overstaying the permitted day count could result in fines of €3k+, deportation, and/or travel bans up to 3 years. Days spent in the EU for non-domiciled residents are closely monitored via passport scanning, and it’s highly unlikely a breach will go unnoticed. It is now essential for regular business travellers to track the number of days they are spending in the EU, because for some people those 90-days will add up very quickly.
EU work authorisation: what you need to know
Immigration and labour regulations differ from country-to-country, each EU member state has a different set of rules, costs and processing times to obtain work authorisations. Organisations with regular business travellers and/or cross-border commuters will need to to assess and review individual destination requirements, as well as the activities their employees will undertake in each destination to understand if that individual is about to enter each country as a business visitor or whether long-term work authorisation is required, which varies greatly from one country to the next.
Social Security: The new protocol
The protocol acts to protect an individual’s access to healthcare when outside their home country and in the EU or the UK. It follows the previous principle that social security should only be payable in one country at a time, which is usually the country in which you work. However exceptions do exist for “detached workers” and “multi-state workers” where social security payments remain in an employee’s home country.
What is a Detached Worker?
Detached worker rules apply to UK employees who are temporarily posted to work in another country, and they broadly follow that of Poster Worker rules. An employee must make an application for an A1 certificate in order for Detached Worker rules to apply which will allow that individual to retain social security within their home country and avoid fragmented contributions.
One notable change is that pre-Brexit, under Posted Worker rules A1 certificates could be extended up to a period of five years. Whereas under the Detached Worker rules an assignment duration must not exceed 24 months with no exceptions. Once this duration has been reached, an individual will automatically flip into the host country social security system.
For EEA countries (Norway Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) who, although are outside of the EU, still participate in EU social security regulations, the new protocol will not apply. These countries have individual agreements in place with the UK with the exception of Liechtenstein where no agreement exists, therefore domestic rules for both locations will need to be followed resulting in dual-social security obligations.
Stay complaint with Schengen rules
As business travel starts to resume, special attention should be paid to non-EU domiciled employees travelling to the EU. Organisations will need to start keeping track of the number of days their entire business travel population are spending in each EU member state and the activities being undertaken. Having the right technology in place to help monitor the different rules and requirements within Schengen member states will be integral to minimize risk and scale across the business. Topia Compass actively monitors your business travel footprint on a country level to provide accurate insights into where people are travelling to, and alerts both employees and their organisations of approaching thresholds to ensure immigration and social security rules are not breached.
For more of a deep dive into this topic view our recent webinar recording- Managing the Impacts of Brexit: Immigration and Tax compliance. Enjoy this webinar preview below.