Posting Workers in the EU: What companies should know

Since Corona restrictions have been lifted or mostly loosened in almost all EU/EEA countries, work-related travel is increasing again. Companies that post employees abroad must therefore once again gradually deal with the mandatory topics of A1 certificates and EU posting workers.

The tightening of registration requirements within the EU and the EEA has increased in recent years. One of the reasons for this are the reforms of the Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC) in 2014 and 2018, which has already been implemented into national law. These directives contain provisions that workers posted to another member state can invoke the rights and obligations that apply in the destination country – although they are still subject to the law of the home country.

As a result, posted workers from EU countries are subject to the same remuneration rules as in the host member state, as laid down in legislation or generally binding collective agreements. In order to be able to check this, the competent authorities are increasingly focusing on the reporting obligations that already exist. However, there is the problem that the reporting procedures vary greatly from state to state. Often there are exceptions for certain activities or special regulations apply to the transport industry.

In general, travel for the purpose of providing services must be reported, whereas business travel for business meetings without passing on costs to the customer is exempt from a reporting requirement and all associated requirements. To check whether your business trip is subject to mandatory reporting, you can simply use our travel configurator. By specifying the destination country, citizenship and activity, you can find out in one click whether or not there is an obligation to report.

Depending on the country of activity, there may be an obligation to appoint a representative who has to fulfil special duties during the posting period. In addition, special documentation requirements must be complied with. Regardless of the country in which the employee is working or must be registered in, the bureaucratic procedure is different in each country, always complex and full of exceptions and special requirements. Although many national authorities provide information sheets in English, reporting processes are sometimes only available in the national language. Furthermore, changes in individual countries occur continuously and must be meticulously observed.

Lead times for reporting vary greatly. Although it can be generally stated that the notification must be submitted before the start of the foreign assignment and cannot be submitted retrospectively, Switzerland, for example, stipulates a deadline of 8 days before the start of the foreign assignment.

Non-compliance with the reporting requirements entails high liability risks. Those who fail to comply with reporting requirements violate applicable national law and risk high penalties, which may even result in suspension from employment. Switzerland, for example, imposes penalties of up to 36,000 euros per employee and, in the worst case, denies the affected expatriate access to company premises. France even goes so far as to impose fines of up to half a million euros on companies for breaches of duty. Far worse than fines is the exclusion from market participation in the host country, which can threaten a company in the event of repeated breaches of duty. Such losses can also result in the loss of reputation with clients in the host country.

Due to the current relevance of this subject as well as the political development within the EU and the associated tightening of existing regulations, there is an increasing threat of controls abroad as well as international projects by supervisory authorities set up especially for this purpose. These inspections can also affect operations that have already been completed.

Irrespective of the obligation to report, there is also the requirement for an A1 certificate. If a current A1 certificate is missing when an employee is posted, the employer may be subject to fines. Therefore, before the employee is sent to work, for example, from Poland to a foreign country – whether as part of a business trip or a posting – it is necessary to determine which social security law applies. This is regulated by the rules on the coordination of social security systems. The general principle in EU Regulation 883/2004 is that the person concerned is subject to only one social security system at the relevant time – it should be the system of the country where the work is performed.

In summary, the following challenges should be highlighted on the topic of reporting requirements.

  • Varying regulations and reporting procedures in the individual countries
  • High level of bureaucracy
  • Language barriers in the individual portals/reporting procedures due to non-existence of English information
  • Special requirements and the associated time expenditure
  • Obligation to provide company-specific data
  • Required lead times

For HR departments, the EU posting requirements mean that business trips such as postings must be prepared precisely and in time. They are forced to deal with the employment contract regulations of the country of employment, local minimum wages (and any necessary adjustment), as well as a detailed review of an employees planned work abroad. In some circumstances, HR professionals should also interact ahead of time with a contact person in the state of employment, for example, to appoint them as a representative.

IAC Unternehmensberatung has been supporting companies for many years in filling out the correct applications and meeting deadlines, and provides strategic and operational support for reporting obligations within Europe, if required. Our innovative reporting tool EASY ACCESS simplifies the time-consuming and confusing process of registration and application. Our competent team will support you from the processing of the registration to the sending of the completed registration confirmation and, on request, the A1 certificate. Everything from one source! Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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