If you send one of your workers to work in another European Union (EU) member state, you must ensure they receive the basic key terms and conditions of that member state.
For this rule to apply, the worker must be going:
- to another member state under a contract to provide services that has been agreed between your business and another party in that member state
- to another part of your business established in another member state (known as an intra-company transfer)
The rule also applies if you are an employment business that hires out the worker to a user undertaking in another member state. However, an employment relationship must exist between you and your worker during the posting.
Workers in these circumstances are known as 'posted workers'.
Legislation covering posted workers
The legislation that applies to the terms and conditions of posted workers is that covering:
- paid annual leave
- health, safety and hygiene at work
- the employment of children and young people
- maximum work periods and minimum rest breaks
- minimum rates of pay (excluding occupational pension schemes)
- the protection of workers who are pregnant or who have just given birth
- sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief and age discrimination
- the less favourable treatment of fixed-term employees and part-time workers
- the conditions of the hiring-out of workers, in particular the supply of workers by employment businesses
For example, if you post the worker to a member state that has a minimum wage that is higher than the wage they normally receive, they are entitled to the minimum wage of that member state.
In addition, you will have to abide by any universally applicable collective agreements which apply in the member state you post workers to.
Posting a worker to another member state may require changing their employment contract. See how to change an employee's terms of employment.
Any terms and conditions in the worker's contract that are more favourable than the minimum requirements continue to apply.
Note that the same rules apply if - as a UK-based employer - you employ a posted worker from another member state.
Tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs)
If you are posting workers to another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, generally their social security contributions will be paid in the country where they are carrying out their work. (The EEA is the 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.)
However, if you expect that the employee's work abroad will last less than 24 months, you should request for their NICs to continue. To do this, you will need to apply for a Portable Document A1 form. To apply use form:
- CA3821 - employer questionnaire you complete when applying for the first time
- CA3822 - complete for each employee going to work abroad
If you employ a posted worker from another EEA country or Switzerland, you will need to register them in the UK as an employee for tax purposes.
However, if your workers have a Portable Document A1 form from their normal country of employment, you will have to deduct social security contributions in accordance with the rules of their home country instead of NICs.
To find out the regulations on tax and social security if workers are posted to the UK, contact HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Important: The UK has left the EU and there is now a transition period until the end of 2020. This information is still current but could change. Any changes will be documented here. For more information, see Brexit support for employers.
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